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Tuesday, September 22, 2020

The first James Bond turns 90

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Sean Connery, the first actor to play fictional British secret agent James Bond 007, created in 1953 by English writer Ian Fleming (1908-1964), was born on August 25th, 1930 in Fountainbridge, an area of Edinburgh, to Euphamia C. Maclean, a Scottish leaning lady, and Joseph Connery, a factory worker and truck driver of Irish descent.

Connery received little education and at the age of 13 left school, which he often had skipped to sneak into a movie theater, to start working full time at a local diary. In 1946, he signed with the Royal Navy for seven years, but was discharged in 1949 because of an ulcer.

Back home, Connery shoveled coal and worked as a lorry driver, brick layer, model for the Edinburgh College of Art and coffin polisher. At the time he joined a body-building studio, where in 1953 he got nominated for the Mr. Universe contest in London.

There he drew the attention of the casting director of a musical. It would be the beginning of a decade-long acting career, which took off when producers Harry Saltzman (1915-1994) and Albert Broccoli (1909-1996), cast him as the one and only, womanizing super-spy with a license to kill.

Between 1962 and 1983, the 1.88 m tall, handsome Scot starredin seven filmsof the extremely successful franchise: Dr. No (1962),From Russia With Love (1963),Goldfinger (1964), Thunderball (1965), You Only Live Twice (1967),Diamonds Are Forever (1971) and Never say never again (1983).

The last title, contributed by his second wife, French-Moroccan painter Micheline Roquebrune (born in 1929), refers to his earlier statement that he would “never again” join the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), commonly known as MI6, on the big screen. Despite Connery’s many well-documented love affairs, the marriage lasts until today.

Before, Connery had been married to Australian actress and author Diane Cilento (1932-2011) from 1962 to 1973. Their son Jason, born in 1963, also an actor as well as a director, made him a grandfather in 1997.

After a certainly career-defining role he starred in other blockbusters like Murder on the Orient Express (1974), Robin and Marian (1976), Time Bandits (1981) and Highlander (1976). In 1988, he won a British Film Academy Award for The Name of the Rose (1986) and an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for The Untouchables (1987). His catchphrase “Shaken, not stirred”, referring to the way 007 prefers his martini cocktail, can nowadays be considered legendary.

An icon of masculinity with some controversial opinions about domestic violence, Connery aged well: in 1989 he was proclaimed “Sexiest Man Alive” by People Magazine and ten years later voted “Sexiest Man of the Century”.
It can be considered unfortunate that Connery has lived to witness how even 007 has fallen victim to feminist identity politics: a white male has been substituted by a black female. Tradition went down the drain…

A Scotland Forever tattoo on his arm from his days at the Navy shows Connery’s love for the Highlands and all things Scottish. Although he has been polled as “The Greatest Living Scot” and “Scotland’s Greatest Living National Treasure”, he chose not to live there a long time ago for tax reasons.

A long supporter of the Scottish National Party, he was denied British knighthood in 1998 due to his secessionist stance. Wearing traditional Highland attire during the ceremony, he was finally knighted in 2000.

This didn’t stop Connery from openly supporting the failed independence referendum in his homeland in September 2014, calling it an “opportunity to good to miss” and “the chance to make a step change.”

With his own humble background in mind, he has donated a large portion of his earnings to the Scottish International Education Trust to help poor students and probably to keep the idea of nationhood alive.

As other similar examples have shown, I doubt that viewers and fans will like this new attempt to force down their throats multicultural dreams that are somehow more unrealistic than the whole plot has always been.

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