(CNN) — Sean Connery, the Scottish actor whose five-decade-long movie career was dominated by the role of James Bond, has died at the age of 90, according to his publicist.
The actor “died peacefully in his sleep,” publicist Nancy Seltzer said in a statement Saturday.
“His wife Micheline and his two sons, Jason and Stephane have confirmed that he died peacefully in his sleep surrounded by family. There will be a private ceremony followed by a memorial yet to be planned once the virus has ended,” the statement said.
Connery, who was awarded a knighthood in 2000 for his contribution to the arts, played the British spy in seven movies, beginning with “Dr. No” in 1962, the first of the Bond movies.
He wasn’t just Bond, of course. Connery starred in an Alfred Hitchcock film, 1964’s “Marnie,” opposite Tippi Hedren; was part of the all-star cast in 1974’s “Murder on the Orient Express”; played Indiana Jones’ father, in 1989’s “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”; and won an Academy Award for best supporting actor for his performance as Chicago cop Jim Malone in the 1987 film “The Untouchables.”
But like so many characters in the Bond films, he could never quite escape 007. He gave up the role twice before finally ending his involvement with 1983’s puckishly titled “Never Say Never Again.”
James Bond producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli said they were “devastated” by the news of Connery’s death in a statement posted to the official 007 Twitter account.
“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 revolutionized the world with his gritty and witty portrayal of the sexy and charismatic secret agent,” the producers said.
“He is undoubtedly largely responsible for the success of the film series and we shall be forever grateful to him.”
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she was “heartbroken” to hear of Connery’s death.
“Our nation today mourns one of her best loved sons,” she said in a statement. “Sean was born into a working class Edinburgh family and through talent and sheer hard work, became a film icon and one of the world’s most accomplished actors.”
Sturgeon also paid tribute to Connery as “a patriotic and proud Scot,” saying it was a privilege to have known him. “He was a lifelong advocate of an independent Scotland and those of us who share that belief owe him a great debt of gratitude,” she said.
Actor Daniel Craig, the most recent Bond, said Connery had “defined an era and a style” and was one of cinema’s true greats.
“The wit and charm he portrayed on screen could be measured in mega watts; he helped create the modern blockbuster. He will continue to influence actors and film-makers alike for years to come,” said Craig in a statement shared by the official 007 Twitter account.
Actor Hugh Jackman tweeted: “I grew up idolizing #SeanConnery. A legend on screen, and off. Rest In Peace.”
Britain’s Pinewood Studios, where the Bond films are filmed, tweeted: “Memories of this outstanding actor and his unforgettable embodiment of superspy James Bond will forever be cherished at Pinewood.”