Sir Sean Connery has been declared the "best James Bond ever" as actors, film producers, politicians and fans paid tribute to one of the world's most-known movie stars.
The 90-year-old Scottish actor, the first to play 007 on the big screen, died peacefully in his sleep in Nassau in the Bahamas, surrounded by his family, it was announced on Saturday.
on Saturday night, Sir Sean's wife of 45 years, Micheline, revealed the actor's final months were blighted by dementia.
"It was no life for him. He was not able to express himself latterly. At least he died in his sleep and it was just so peaceful. I was with him all the time and he just slipped away. It was what he wanted," she told the Mail on Sunday.
"He had dementia and it took its toll on him. He got his final wish to slip away without any fuss."
His son Jason, 57, 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.”
Tributes poured in from across the world from those connected to his five decade-long career and appearances in Ian Fleming’s spy thrillers.
The current Bond actor, Daniel Craig, used the character’s official Twitter account to express his sadness at “the passing of one of the true greats of cinema”, adding how Sir Sean “defined an era and a style”.
He explained how the “wit and charm he portrayed on screen could be measured in megawatts” and he would “continue to influence actors and filmmakers” for generations to come.
“Wherever he is, I hope there is a golf course,” Craig added.
The family of Sir Roger Moore, the Bond actor who died in 2017, said: “He and Roger were friends for many decades and Roger always maintained Sean was the best ever James Bond.”
George Lazenby, who played 007 in the 1969 film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, said he recently wished Sir Sean “all the best” for his 90th birthday.
He said it the actor inspired him but “seemed to have encapsulated an age, the Sixties”.
“To me, the most important thing was his work went far beyond Bond: into charity, into family, into politics and into golf," Lazenby added. "A man after my own heart. A great actor, a great man and underappreciated artist has left us.”
Barbara Broccoli – daughter of the original Bond producer, Albert R “Cubby” Broccoli – and Michael G Wilson said in a statement: “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.”
Sir Michael Caine, a close friend of Sir Sean who was said to have once been considered for the role of James Bond, saud : "A Great Star, Brilliant Actor and a wonderful friend".
In a tweet he added: "The Man Who Would Be King was THE KING".
Colin Salmon, who played MI6 deputy chief of staff Charles Robinson in three Bond films, said: "Sean Connery had that dangerous quality that made you think twice. He set his own tempo in every role. RIP maestro."
Catherine Zeta-Jones, who starred with Sir Sean in the 1999 film Entrapment, said she would “cherish every moment” they worked together.
Monty Python star John Cleese said Sir Sean was an “immense talent and vibrant human” whom he had the pleasure of working with in Time Bandits, the 1891 fantasy film directed by Terry Gilliam.
Dame Shirley Bassey, who performed the theme tunes for three Bond films including Goldfinger, wrote on Twitter of her sadness, describing the actor as a “wonderful person, a true gentleman and we will ever be connected by Bond”.
Pinewood Studios, where the Bond films are shot, said in a tweet how “memories of this outstanding actor and his unforgettable embodiment of superspy James Bond will forever be cherished at Pinewood”.
MGM Studios said his portrayal of James Bond remained one of cinema’s greatest contributions.
Fellow Scottish actor Robert Carlyle shared a photo of himself with Sir Sean on Twitter and wrote: “One of my proudest moments ... with the great man in 2008.”
Liam Cunningham, the Irish actor from Game of Thrones, wrote: “This man was really good to me. They say don’t meet your heroes. He exceeded all expectations.”
Arnold Schwarzenegger described Sir Sean as a “legend” and an “icon” who inspired him, as well as impressed him when he came third in the Mr Universe contest aged 23.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also took to Twitter to say she was “heartbroken” after learning of the death of one of the most famous Scottish nationalists.
She described him as “one of our best-loved sons” from a working class family who became “an international film icon” and the “best James Bond”.
Alex Salmond, former first minister of Scotland and close friends with Sir Sean, described the actor as “the world’s greatest Scot … the definitive Bond”.
Sir Sean’s wife, Micheline, his son, Jason, and step-son, Stephane, confirmed he died “peacefully in his sleep surrounded by family”, adding: “There will be a private ceremony followed by a memorial yet to be planned once the virus has ended.”