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James Bond actor Sir Sean Connery dies in his sleep aged 90

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James Bond legend Sir Sean Connery has died in his sleep aged 90 following a long illness, his family announced.

Tributes have been pouring in for the Oscar-winning actor who passed away in the Bahamas and leaves behind his wife Micheline and sons Jason and Stefan.

Jason told the BBC his father had been surrounded by ‘many of his family’ who could make it to the Caribbean when he died.

He said: ‘We are all working at understanding this huge event as it only happened so recently, even though my dad has been unwell for some time.

‘A sad day for all who knew and loved my dad and a sad loss for all people around the world who enjoyed the wonderful gift he had as an actor.

Sir Sean, whose movie career spans five decades, is best known for his portrayal of British fictional spy 007 who he played between 1962–1971.

He was today hailed as ‘the world’s greatest Scot and last of the real Hollywood stars’ as the acting community and beyond rallied to remember him.

He was often named the best Bond in polls on the subject. He was awarded an Oscar in 1988 for his part playing an Irish policeman in The Untouchables.

He also starred in The Hunt for Red October, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and The Rock.

Sir Sean was knighted by the Queen in 2000 and celebrated his 90th birthday in August.

Former First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond described his friend Sir Sean as ‘the world’s greatest Scot, the last of the real Hollywood stars, the definitive Bond.’

Bond producers Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli paid tribute to Sir Sean in a statement: ‘We are devastated by the news of the passing of Sir Connery.

‘He was and shall always be remembered as the original James Bond whose indelible entrance into cinema history began when he announced those unforgettable words – ‘The name’s Bond… James Bond’ – he revolutionised the world with his gritty and witty portrayal of the sexy and charismatic secret agent.

‘He is undoubtedly largely responsible for the success of the film series and we shall be forever grateful to him.’

Hugh Jackman tweeted: I grew up idolizing Connery. A legend on screen, and off. Rest In Peace.’

He enjoyed a long and varied film career spanning 50 years, but Sir Sean Connery will undoubtedly be remembered as the first – and some say definitive – James Bond.

His performance in Dr No in 1962 set the jobbing actor and former milkman on a path that would lead to Hollywood stardom and all its trappings.

Roles in Highlander, The Untouchables and Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade helped seal his position as one of Britain’s best-loved stars, and his brooding good looks and distinct Scottish brogue won him legions of fans worldwide.

Connery never lost his much-imitated accent despite his many years living abroad. From his home in the Bahamas, he remained a fervent supporter of independence for Scotland.

Thomas Sean Connery was born in Edinburgh’s Fountainbridge area on August 25 1930. The elder of two boys, he left school at an early age and took his first job as a milkman, complete with horse-drawn cart.

At 16 he enlisted in the Royal Navy but was discharged three years later on medical grounds after suffering with a stomach ulcer.

He has two tattoos from this time – one reading ‘Mum and Dad’ and another ‘Scotland Forever’.

The keen bodybuilder then undertook a variety of jobs, including a stint as a bricklayer, a lifeguard and an artist’s model for the Edinburgh College of Art. Under the name Thom Connery he was placed third in the tall man’s division (he was 6ft 2in) of the 1950 Mr Universe contest.

The stage came calling when a friend suggested he try out for a production of South Pacific. He got a part in the sailors’ chorus and so began his acting career.

He was also a gifted footballer. While touring with the musical, he was offered a contract by former Manchester United manager Sir Matt Busby, who saw him play in a friendly against a local side.

His first major acting credit came in 1957 British gangster film No Road Back.

It was author Ian Fleming’s suave and sophisticated secret service agent that launched Connery to stardom.

Fleming was initially resistant to the idea of Connery playing his character. He thought the Scot was an ‘overgrown stuntman’ who was not refined enough for the role.

He was later so impressed with his performance that he created a Scottish ancestry for the character in his subsequent books.