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An English Rose in Georgia: Remembering Sean Connery
Lesley Francis new 2019.jpg

We all have our favorite James Bond actor and mine has always been the first and original 007, Sean Connery – the British born actor who died last month at the age of 90. In this stressful year of COVID-19, it would be easy to see 2020 as the year that just keeps taking, as we mourn the passing of the very first 007. Sean Connery was a movie icon of my youth and will be best remembered as the original James Bond whose entrance into legend began when he first announced those unforgettable words: “The name’s Bond... James Bond”. Connery was not just the first James Bond, but he set the standard for all those that followed him.

He only made seven Bond movies – all but one of these between 1962-71, in addition to Never Say Never Again in 1983. As I wasn’t born until 1966, my early memories of Sean Connery are mainly of seeing re-runs of those classic 007 movies on British TV as I was growing up. I remember looking forward to seeing Dr. No, Goldfinger, From Russia with Love, You Only Live Twice, Thunderball and Diamonds are Forever during the school vacations when bedtime was a bit later.

Thomas Sean Connery was a Scottish actor who was born in very modest circumstances in Edinburgh and against all odds became a world-famous movie star. He left school to earn money for his family at the age of 13. Before becoming an actor, he was a milkman, truck driver, laborer, coffin polisher, and lifeguard. He also spent three years in the Royal Navy but was discharged on medical grounds due to stomach ulcers. In 1953 he travelled to London from Edinburgh to compete in a weightlifting competition, and as a 6-foot 2-inch hunk he did well. However, his break came when he was spotted by an acting scout in London and his career took off. His talent and hard work led to many roles and he won an Oscar in 1988 for his performance in ‘The Untouchables.’ He won many awards and accolades during his lifetime including receiving a Golden Globe Award twice, the Cecil B. DeMille Award, BAFTA Film Award, Lifetime Achievement Award, American Cinematheque Award, and more. My husband’s favorite Sean Connery movie is the box office smash The Hunt for Red October in which he plays submarine Capitan Marko Ramius, but to me and many others he will best be remembered as the definitive James Bond – witty, ruthless, confident and oh so handsome.

Connery loved Scotland and was extremely patriotic with “Scotland Forever” tattooed on his forearm.

He was a member of the Scottish National Party and was thrilled when Scotland re-established its own parliament in 1999 after nearly 300 years of being completely governed from London, England.

However, Scotland remains part of the UK and is not completely independent.

Connery was delighted to be knighted at the age of 70 by Queen Elizabeth II at an investiture ceremony at Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh. He retired from acting six years later in 2006.

He never forgot his humble roots. In his 2009 autobiography Being a Scot, Connery describes a taxi ride when he was back in Scotland attending The Edinburgh Film Festival.

“The driver was amazed that I could put a name to every street we passed.

‘How come?’ he asked. ‘As a boy I used to deliver milk round here’ I said. ‘So, what do you do now?’ That was rather harder to answer!”

I empathize with Connery who loved the land of his birth but chose to live out his life in warmer climes – in his case moving to the Bahamas – where he loved to play golf. He moved there in the 1990s with his wife of 45 years, the French painter Micheline Roquebrune. Connery dated many high-profile women in his life and was married twice. He has one son from his first marriage and three stepchildren.

Apparently, he was surrounded by family when he passed away peacefully after what was reported as a long illness. There is a lot more information at www.biography.com I leave you with an inspirational quote by Connery himself which resonates with me, and really relates to the story of his success.

“Nothing is impossible, only mathematically improbable.” Rest in Peace, 007.

God Bless America! Stay safe, stay well, stay positive.

Lesley grew up in London, England and made Georgia her home in 2009. She can be contacted at lesley@francis.com.

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