The first James Bond, Sean Connery turns 90

The first James Bond, Sean Connery turned 90 on August 25.

Connery was born August 25, 1930, in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Connery who would be 007 turns 90 on Tuesday and has been off the silver screen since opting to retire in 2003 after appearing in the execrable “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.” (Why do the great ones go out with a whimper? Here’s looking at you Gene Hackman/”Welcome to Mooseport”). However, his legacy continues to reverberate — it can be felt in everything from Tom Cruise’s globe-trotting “Mission: Impossible” alter-ego Ethan Hunt to Harrison Ford’s quip-ready adventurer in the Indiana Jones films. Daniel Craig’s darker take on Bond also owes a clear debt to Connery’s interpretation of the Ian Fleming character.

Social media celebrated his milestone birthday and The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw celebrated the actor and his career in a piece headlined “Sean Connery at 90: a dangerously seductive icon of masculinity.”

“As much as the Beatles, it was Connery’s charismatic Bond who kept alive Britain’s postwar amour-propre,” Bradshaw writes. “Does Britain appear to be waning pathetically on the world stage? Oh no. Britain is still powerful — but in secret, you see, like 007.”

Taking off with James Bond

Both the theater and film world took notice of the athletic beau. Starting in the mid-1950s, he took roles as a supporting actor, but with rather limited success. It wasn’t until two Hollywood producers were looking for an actor for a new spy movie after others had rejected the offer, that the young Connery took a chance, auditioned for the role – and was cast in what would become the part of his life.

The first Bond film, Dr. No, became a box office hit in 1962. Connery proved to be the ideal choice for the role of the British secret service agent.

Numerous sequels followed, turning Connery into an international star. But to him, even that just wasn’t good enough — and he also claimed to be underpaid. After the fifth Bond film, there was a break. The actor began to seek out other genres, and ended up playing some very demanding roles.

A first (and better paid) comeback as Bond followed in 1971 with Diamonds Are Forever — but he donated his record salary of over $1 million to a Scottish educational charity he co-founded. And 12 years later, he could be persuaded once again to play Bond in Never Say Never Again, which became a huge success — and was his final farewell to the role. Today, he’s still often lauded as the best Bond of all time.