Hollywood Icon Battled Alzheimer’s Disease
Sir Sean Connery rose from humble beginnings to become one of the brightest lights in Hollywood history. Connery lost his battle with neurodegenerative disease at age 90.
It’s not known how long he battled brain disease, but rumors have circulated about his condition since 2013, when close friend and fellow actor Michael Caine was quoted (or misquoted) about Connery’s mental health. Caine refuted those comments for years.
However, in a subsequent interview with German newspaper Bild am Sonntag, the actor said that Connery was becoming increasingly confused, often not knowing where he was, and suffering from memory loss.
“One must have serious concerns for Sir Sean,” Caine said in 2015.
Connery and Caine became friends after meeting in London in the late 1950s. The friendship between the actors deepened after they appeared in The Man Who Would be King in 1975.
Unfortunately, the rumors were true. After a long battle with dementia, Connery passed quietly on October 31, 2020. His wife, Micheline Roquebrune, shared some insight regarding her husband’s final days.
“It was no life for him,” the French-Moroccan artist told the Mail, revealing that the actor, who died on Saturday in his sleep, had been struggling with dementia. “It took its toll on him. He was not able to express himself (at the end).”
Roquebrune, 91, explained that Connery died in his sleep.
“It was just so peaceful. I was with him all the time and he just slipped away,” she said. “It was what he wanted.”
In the final years and months, Connery’s memory loss was noticeable.
Only a few close friends and confidantes had access to the actor. Connery’s son, Jason, confirmed that his father wasn’t well “for some time.”
Sir Jackie Stewart, 81, said that his friend had been “in discomfort” during the last two years of his life. The former F1 driver said that it was a “sad sight” to see Connery struggling with dementia.
“He was an amazing man and a great, great friend,” Stewart said.
Thomas Sean Connery was born in the Fountainbridge area of Edinburgh on August 25, 1930. He was the son of a Catholic factory worker and a Protestant domestic cleaner. He began acting at a local theatre. He decided to pursue his luck on the stage. It was, he later said, “one of my more intelligent moves.”
Then came James Bond. Producers Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman had acquired the rights to film Ian Fleming’s novels. They were looking for an actor to portray 007. They considered Hollywood heavyweights, including Richard Burton, Cary Grant and Rex Harrison. It was Broccoli’s wife, Dana, who persuaded her husband that Connery had the magnetism and sexual chemistry for the part.
Connery played secret agent James Bond seven times. He first starred in Dr. No in 1962.
Connery made the character his own, blending ruthlessness with sardonic wit. Many critics didn’t like it and some of the reviews were scathing. But the public did not agree.
The action scenes, sex and exotic locations were a winning formula. Dr No, was a box office hit. made a pile of money at the box office. Even abroad it was hugely successful; with President Kennedy requesting a private screening at the White House.
More Bond roles followed, including From Russia with Love (1963), Goldfinger (1964), Thunderball (1965), You Only Live Twice (1967), Diamonds Are Forever (1971) and Never Say Never Again.
Despite his Bond legacy, it was The Untouchables that won him an Oscar for best supporting actor. His collection of awards also included two Baftas and three Golden Globes. He accepted his knighthood in 2000 decked out in full highland dress.
Connery last appeared before the cameras in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, in 2003. In 2011, Connery retired from public appearances. According to his publicist, Nancy Seltzer, he was in good health at that time.
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Gary Chandler is a prion expert. He is the CEO of Crossbow Communications, author of several books and producer of documentaries about health and environmental issues around the world. Chandler is connecting the dots to the global surge in neurodegenerative disease, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, chronic wasting disease and other forms of prion disease.