Farewell, Sean. Remembering Sean Connery (1930-2020)

The sad news came through this afternoon that Sean Connery had died in his sleep last night at his home in the Bahamas. He was 90 years old and had been in ill health for some time. To say I am heartbroken is an understatement. I have grown up with his films and magnificent performances and have been a fan for many years now. He was someone who was always there and could always be relied upon to turn in a good and entertaining performance, even in films which weren’t really that good.

Bond 1

Sean Connery. Image source IMDb.

My first introduction to Sean came when I watched The Hunt For Red October, Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade and the Alfred Hitchcock film, Marnie. In all three of these films I was struck most by how he commanded the screen in every scene, even when he wasn’t saying anything or really doing much. I was impressed and wanted to see more. I was next introduced to the Bond series and thereafter was a fan for life.

I love how he never masked his Scottish accent and that it became such a beloved part of his screen presence, and that no matter who he played – Irish policeman, Russian submarine Captain – that accent somehow still sounded right.

I am a huge fan of the James Bond books and film series. His performance as James Bond is brilliant. He gives the character a ruthlessness and edge, something which leaves the viewer in no doubt that he can take care of himself and isn’t someone to be messed with. His charisma and sex appeal helped not only to endear him, but also the character of Bond, to both men and women.

Sean Connery as James Bond. Image sources IMDb.

While there were many other actors considered for the role of Bond – Stanley Baker, Cary Grant, James Mason etc- it’s hard now to imagine anyone other than Sean as the first official screen Bond. Sean was a huge part of the reason why the early Bond films became so successful and such a big deal. So much was riding on Sean’s casting in the role, but from that famous first Bond intro scene in Dr. No, any worries anyone may have had regarding his capability and suitability for the role quickly subsided. A new screen hero and icon had arrived on the scene.

Sean’s story is a classic rags to riches one. He was born Thomas Sean Connery, on the 25th of August, 1930, in Fountainbridge, Edinburgh. His mum, Euphemia, worked as a cleaner, while his dad, Joseph, was a lorry driver and factory worker. Sean had a younger brother, Neil, who was born in 1938 and later followed his older brother into the acting profession.

Eunice Gayson 2

Sylvia Trench(Eunice Gayson)is introduced to “Bond. James Bond.” Image source IMDb.

The young Sean’s first job was as a milkman. He then joined the Royal Navy at the age of 16. He was discharged at the age of 19 on medical grounds. After returning home he took on several jobs including a laborer, lorry driver and lifeguard. He also got into bodybuilding, and during a bodybuilding competition in 1953, a fellow competitor mentioned auditions were being held in London for the stage production of South Pacific. Sean went and auditioned and was offered a small role as one of the chorus boys. He later moved up to play the role of Cpl Steeves.

During a 1954 party for the show, Sean met Michael Caine for the first time. The pair would become lifelong friends and would later work together in the film The Man Who Would Be King. Sean would also become close friends with Roger Moore, who later succeeded Sean in his most famous screen role.

As the 1950’s rolled on, Sean’s fame grew as he started to get more significant roles in TV and films such as Hell Drivers, Requiem For A Heavyweight, Darby O’Gill And The Little People, and Another Time, Another Place,in which he co-starred alongside one of the biggest stars in the world, Lana Turner.

Bond 15
Sean with Bond creator Ian Fleming. Image source IMDb.

In 1962, Sean was offered the role of British secret agent, Commander James Bond, in Dr. No. The film was to be the first serious screen adaptation of Ian Fleming’s hit book series. At first Sean was reluctant to sign a deal to play the character in multiple films, but soon changed his mind. Between 1962 and 1983 he played Bond in seven films – six official films for Eon productions, and the seventh and unofficial Bond film, Never Say Never Again.

Outside of Bond he impressed in such varied films as The Hill, The Offence(featuring one of his best performances as a detective reaching his breaking point), Marnie, The Untouchables(for which he won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar),The Name Of The Rose, Robin And Marion(in which he and Audrey Hepburn deliver poignant performances as the older Robin Hood and Maid Marion),The Hunt For Red October, Highlander, The Rock and bizarre cult classic Zardoz.

Sean in Marnie, Robin And Marion and Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade. Image source IMDb.

One of my favourites from his later screen work is Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade, in which he plays Professor Henry Jones, the bookworm dad of Indiana Jones. He was perfect casting playing against type as a mild mannered,studious,eccentric and very gentle man. Henry abhors fighting and has a difficult relationship with his more adventurous son. He and Harrison Ford have a lovely chemistry together and Sean gets to prove he had a gift for comedy as well as drama too.

My heart goes out to Sean’s family and friends. R.I.P, Sean. Thank you for so many great performances and unforgettable characters. While I am heartbroken at the loss of this legend, I take great comfort in the cinematic legacy he has left behind him for us to enjoy. This year has been a tough one already for Bond fans with the deaths announced of Honor Blackman, Diana Rigg and Margaret Nolan, but the loss of Sean makes it even more difficult for fans to bear.

14 thoughts on “Farewell, Sean. Remembering Sean Connery (1930-2020)

  1. thane62

    Hi Maddy. What a lousy way to greet the day—first thing I saw this morning. Not ashamed to say I cried, and have several times when talking about the news with friends. Seeing “Goldfinger” at age ten in 1965 was pretty much The Coolest Thing Possible. Love “The Man Who Would Be King” and “The Wind And The Lion”. Don’t know if I ever mentioned this but I actually have a honest-to-goodness tie-in from my sister Patti. Back in 1958, she was a model, seeking to get an acting career going. One night she went on a double-date, bowling. Her date was someone lost to time, but her girlfriends partner was a young, handsome guy over from Scotland to work on a movie for Disney–“Darby O’Gill And The Little People”. She just recalls that he was “nice”, and of course this was still several years away from “Dr.No”. I always give her a bad time, saying “Seriously, you mean my brother-in-law could have been JAMES BOND?!!” A part of my childhood left this morning (millions share the sentiment): gone but never forgotten. Now, all I have to worry about is what’s going to happen a few days from now—cross fingers, toes, eyes, etc. Cheers, Mark P.S. Story of sis and pre-007 is true, swear on the ghosts of M, Q and Miss Moneypenny.

    Like

    Reply
  2. tensecondsfromnow

    Lovely piece; I ran into Connery a few times, but the best was in Clerk Street Edinburgh, where he and Michael Caine stood in the street waving to cheering crowds; everyone hung out their windows to see this beloved star…

    Like

    Reply
  3. Patricia Nolan-Hall (@CaftanWoman)

    Maddy, thanks for reminding me how much I enjoyed Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade upon its release. I haven’t seen it since, but it might be just the thing to honour Sir Sean.

    I really enjoyed your tribute to the actor, and you have introduced me to a movie new-to-me, The Offence. I am sure I owe you a big thanks for that.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. maddylovesherclassicfilms Post author

      Hope you get to see it again sometime, Paddy. Well I’m happy to have introduced you to The Offence. It’s a dark film and packs a real punch, so be prepared going in. The performances of Sean and Ian Bannen are superb.

      Like

      Reply
  4. Margot Shelby

    He was my favorite James Bond too. Such a sexy man. I’m also a big fan of the books.
    Apart from that, he was in a lot of other favorite movies. Hunt for Red October; the most underrated Hitchcock, Marnie; and one of the best action movies of the 90s, The Rock.

    About Stanley Baker as Bond, he was to me the only other option who would have fit. If you’ve seen Baker in Hell Drivers and Hell is a City, you know what I mean.

    Like

    Reply
  5. Paul S

    It’s strange, a famous person’s passing usually doesn’t bother me. The death of Sean Connery felt different somehow. Like you I’m a huge fan of the Bond films and novels, for most people Sean will always be the definitive 007. I’ve got fond memories of watching Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade on the big screen at the much missed Palace Theatre in my hometown. I also saw The Rock there and loved every minute of it. Thank you for this lovely tribute Maddy.

    Like

    Reply
  6. Silver Screenings

    I really liked Sean C’s performance in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. He was The perfect casting choice.

    It says a lot about Sean as actor that so many people STILL say he was the best James Bond.

    Like

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s