Sean Connery: The Life and Legacy of the “World’s Greatest Scot”

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“Sean Connery” by Alan Light is licensed with CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Eleanor Shaw

Sir Thomas Sean Connery, an actor, father, and husband, passed away on the 31st of October, 2020. His cause of death has not yet been publicized.

Born in the Fountainbridge area of Edinburgh, Scotland, on the 25th of August, 1930, Connery had experienced a quiet upbringing. His father was a Catholic factory worker, and his mother was a Protestant domestic cleaner. Brought up in a small home, he was a man of humble origins. When he was thirteen, he dropped out of school in order to work several odd jobs in order to provide for his family. Later on, he joined the Royal Navy. After three years of service, he was forced to leave his position early due to stomach ulcers.

Beyond this, he experienced several events that lead to his debut role, some of which included his introduction to acting through the musical South Pacific. He began to build up traction after his debut role in BBC’s Blood Money (1957) became popular in America. Soon, he starred in Another Time, Another Place alongside well-known actress Lana Turner. According to Connery’s obituary published by BBC, this was the role that drew the public’s eye to Connery, making him the perfect candidate to play what would be considered his most infamous role: James Bond.

Connery is considered the definitive James Bond, commanding the silver screen with his presence in several box office hits. In the article published by the New York Times in memoriam, it is noted that James Bond and Sean Connery come hand in hand, each defining the other. Some of his later notable roles include: Darby O’Gill and the Little People (1959), The Man Who Would Be King (1975), Murder on the Orient Express (1978), The Highlander (1986), The Untouchables (1987), and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989). Connery’s stardom was solidified by his Oscar win for his performance in The Untouchables. Later on, in 2000, he was knighted for his support of Scottish independence.

As Connery grew older, interacting more and more with the film industry, he seemed to develop strong feelings against the Hollywood lifestyle. As stated in an article published by BBC, “He preferred to play golf at his homes in Spain, Portugal and the Caribbean with his second wife, Micheline Roqubrune, an artist he had met in Morocco.” Near the beginning of the 21st century, he felt as if Tinsel Town had become too artificial to him, turning down the role of Gandalf in Lord of the Rings, and he officially retired in 2011.

While his career was impressive, it was not free of controversy. According to the obituary published by the New York Times, in an interview conducted in 1965, he stated: “I don’t think there is anything particularly wrong about hitting a woman.” In another interview done in 1987, he was asked if his opinion had changed since originally making this statement. He replied by denying that his opinion had not been altered. It has been speculated that what was addressed in his statements may have been the cause of the split between him and his first wife. This passe attitude was reflected in his role as James Bond. As stated by an article published by BBC News, “In truth, his Bond is now a museum piece; the portrayal of women impossibly dated. The action scenes are still thrilling, but the sex too often bordered on the non-consensual.” Eventually, Connery did admit that his point of view had changed, and now he saw his earlier opinions towards women as wrong.

Near the end of his life, Connery lived in Nassau, The Bahamas in exile (meaning he was considered a high-income person living in an area with low rates of taxation). Despite living far from his original home, he was still a passionate Scotsman. This love for his nation of origin seemed to be exemplified through his every action. In the aforementioned article published by BBC, one of Connery’s close friends, Alex Salmond, the former first minister of Scotland, described him as “The world’s greatest Scot.” Connery’s love for his country was demonstrated by the words tattooed onto his arms: Scotland Forever. Salmond later goes on to say that “[these words weren’t] just tattooed on his forearm but [were] imprinted on his soul.”

After Connery’s death, he has left a vacancy as “The world’s greatest Scot.” From his renowned role as the glamorous and mysterious 007 to his Oscar-winning performance in The Untouchables, he has left an undeniable imprint on the world as a whole. His influence was not limited to theaters and popular media as his knighthood makes this fact all the more prevalent. At the end of his life, Connery left behind a legacy of impressive grandeur, but it was not free of problematic decisions. All in all, Sean Connery has left behind a body of work any actor would take pride in, indisputably solidifying him as a legendary figure in the film industry.