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Sir Sean Connery….the best Agent 007 ever!!

From the first time I saw him on the big screen, I was forever a Sean Connery fan.

I believe it was “Goldfinger” – the third of seven movies where Connery was cast as James Bond, British Secret Agent 007 – from where I was first introduced to this man who would later become a Hollywood legend. I can’t remember if I saw that movie at Myers Theater in Rich Square, Earl Theater in Ahoskie, or one of the two theaters that once lined Roanoke Avenue in Roanoke Rapids.

It really doesn’t matter the venue….what counted was the fact that James Bond always had the most interesting gadgets at his disposal; was always in the company of a beautiful woman; and always defeated the bad guys in the end.

That was waaaaaaay back in 1964, at a time when I was 11 and Connery was 34 (he looked much younger).

In the early morning hours of Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020 at his home in Nassau, Sir Thomas Sean Connery died in his sleep. He was 90 years young.

Just for the record, neither Dr. No nor Mr. Big were anywhere close to The Bahamas this past Saturday morning.

While others have portrayed James Bond over the decades, no one was quite like Connery. He was suave, sophisticated and mega-talented.

Born on Aug. 25, 1930 in Scotland, Connery’s mother was a domestic worker while his father worked in a factory.

He joined the Royal Navy at the age of 16 and became part of an anti-aircraft crew.

After his military hitch, his first acting role came with a small part in the theatrical production of “South Pacific” in London. By the time that play made it to his native Scotland, he was understudying the roles of the two juveniles leads. One year later, Connery was promoted to the lead role of this highly popular and award-winning play.

The tall, muscular Connery slowly inched his way up the ladder as an actor. Some of his earliest work was on BBC Television.

He hit the big screen in 1957, landing the role of a gangster in “No Road Back.” He scored his first leading role that same year in “Requiem for a Heavyweight.”

One year later, Connery found himself as the male lead in the drama “Another Time, Another Place.” The female lead in that film was a young actress by the name of Lana Turner, who would go on to become a major star.

By 1962, Connery’s work as an actor had caught the eye of many of the top movie producers of that era, to include Harry Saltzman and Albert Broccoli who turned book author Ian Fleming’s James Bond character into a classic movie series.

Besides “Goldfinger”, Connery portrayed Agent 007 in “Dr. No” (1962), “From Russia with Love” (1963), “Thunderball” (1965), “You Only Live Twice” (1967), “Diamonds Are Forever” (1971) and “Never Say Never Again” (1983).

While his skills and looks landed him roles in several other blockbuster films, to include working with legendary director Alfred Hitchcock in “Mamie” (also in 1964), my two all-time favorites are “The Untouchables” in 1987 and “The Hunt for Red October” in 1990.

In “The Untouchables”, Connery played the role of Jim Malone, a street savvy Irish-American police officer who teams up with federal agent Eliot Ness (played by Kevin Costner) as they bring down legendary Chicago gangster Al Capone (played by Robert De Niro). The film was set in 1930 during the Prohibition Era.

Connery won his first and only Oscar for that film.

Three years later, Connery landed the role of Marko Ramius, the captain of Soviet submarine Red October. As soon as he leaves port, Captain Ramius reveals his intention to defect to the United States and the underwater thrills begin. Even today, when I watch that movie again and again on TV, I’m still at the edge of my seat, although I’m aware of what’s about to happen.

That’s what makes Sir Sean Connery one of the best-ever at his craft.

To Agent 007, to Officer Malone, to Captain Ramius….may you forever rest in peace.

Cal Bryant is the Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at cal.bryant@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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