(25 August 1930 to 31 October 2020)
He wasn’t quite what Ian Fleming had in mind, but on the big screen, he was the first and best James Bond: moving like a panther, coiled like a spring, throwing away his throw-away lines with an amused accent that seemed to cross Eton with Edinburgh. The Bond films were a sociological event in the 1960s and 1970s, before they descended to a worn-out party joke of a franchise. Connery starred in Dr. No (1962), From Russia With Love (1963), Goldfinger (1964), Thunderball (1965), You Only Live Twice (1967), Diamonds Are Forever (1971), and a rather sad coda, Never Say Never Again (1983).
While the Bond juggernaut was in its initial trajectory, he struggled to get decent other roles, although he is good in The Hill (1965) The Molly Maguires (1970) and The Anderson Tapes (1971), and this struggle continued with patchy results for a decade or so – though he’s OK in The Man Who Would Be King (1975) – success in his second, mature period coming with big and enjoyable performances in The Name of the Rose (1986), The Untouchables (1987), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), The Hunt for Red October (1990) and The Rock (1996). He seemed to manage as a symbol rather than a character actor, and that sonorous Scottish burr never got in the way of the Italians, Welshmen, Irishmen and Russians he played. He was one of the last stars, whose best films will be remembered long after current ones go straight to the dusty corners of streaming libraries.