Forever Bonded With Sean Connery: A Tribute
The name's Connery. Sean Connery. As if anyone could ever forget it.
There have been other James Bonds since the O.G. 007, but none who followed (though Daniel Craig comes close) quite measure up to the suave, sexy Scot whose charm was its own lethal weapon. As debonair as he was deadly, Connery's Bond seduced moviegoers through the 1960s, with blockbuster hits like Dr. No, From Russia with Love and Goldfinger.
Upon learning that Connery had died Saturday at 90, I flashed back to one of my happiest days ever spent as a tourist in London, basking in Bond nostalgia at the 2012 Barbicon Museum exhibit "Designing 007: 50 Years of Bond Style." The immersive collection of costumes, props and sets included replicas of suits and tuxes worn by Connery that epitomized masculine fashion. And while Craig made headlines with his skimpy trunks in his Casino Royale debut, the display reminded fans that Connery had made an earlier splash sporting shorts in Thunderball.
Wandering through the exhibit, I could appreciate the contributions of Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, Craig and even the one-shot George Lazenby, but walked away convinced that no Bond will ever loom so large in the culture as Connery, who wore the role with such sly wit that he became a thinking man's international sex symbol.
The label stuck, even years after he had tried to put Bond behind him, when People anointed Connery the "Sexiest Man Alive" in 1989 at the ripe age of 59. (Winning a supporting-actor Oscar in 1988 for his scene-stealing role as a brutal Chicago cop in The Untouchables had raised his profile again considerably.)
Determined not to let Bond define his career, Connery tried to step away from the franchise after 1967's You Only Live Twice, but was lured back twice more: for 1971's Diamonds Are Forever and, more memorably, as a middle-aged Bond for a swan song in 1983's Never Say Never Again. His rugged charisma carried him through a long and successful film career, with highlights including 1974's all-star Murder on the Orient Express, 1976's wistful Robin and Marian as Robin Hood opposite Audrey Hepburn's Maid Marian, and one of his favorites: John Huston's 1975 rousing period adventure The Man Who Would Be King opposite Michael Caine.
After his Oscar win, Connery re-entered the pop-culture stratosphere when he accepted the role of Harrison Ford's wonderfully cranky father in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and had another box-office smash as a Russian nuclear-sub commander in the film version of Tom Clancy's The Hunt for Red October.
But it's as James Bond that Sean Connery forever earned his license to thrill audiences. In his honor, we raise our martini glass: shaken, not stirred, just how he liked it.