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Fox News
Fox News
15 Dec 2023

Sean Connery struggled with dementia before he passed away peacefully in "paradise."

The Scottish actor who rose to international superstardom as the original James Bond died Oct. 31, 2020. He was 90.

The Oscar winner is the subject of a new book, "Connery, Sean Connery," which dives into his decadeslong career in Hollywood and the obstacles he endured in his lifetime. Author Herbie J Pilato spoke to numerous sources and former co-stars to better understand the man behind the iconic character.


A close-up of Sean Connery smiling

Sean Connery died in 2020 at the age of 90. (Toni Anne Barson/WireImage)

The book also features never-before-published commentary from Connery’s pal, Brendan Lynch, about his final days.

"[Connery] died… at some beautiful ripe age, but had some measure of dementia," Pilato told Fox News Digital. "Dementia is not just a mental issue. You’re affected physically in other ways… It affects everything. So it’s not just the mind. And to see someone who was so strong battling this disease — it was difficult.

"If anybody looked like a movie star, it was Sean Connery," Pilato shared. "But towards the end, when he was frail, it was hard to watch. It was hard to see that."

Cover for Herbie Pilato's book on Sean Connery

Herbie J Pilato has written a new book, "Connery, Sean Connery — Before, During, and After His Most Famous Role." (BearManor Media)

According to Pilato’s book, Lynch was requested by Connery’s wife, Micheline Roquebrune, to visit his friend "as much as possible in his last days." Their homes in the Bahamas were close to one another.

"Because he wasn’t well at all, Micheline did ask me to try and see a bit more of him in the end," Lynch recalled, as quoted in the book. "He didn’t want to have people that he didn’t know hanging around, so I would stop in to visit."

"I was crying at times to see this mountain of a man — this monumental human achievement in such a terrible state — frail (mentally and physically) unable to carry on a conversation or finish off a sentence," Lynch admitted. "To see his body weak and flawed at the end… it was very sad. We tried to have a conversation. I tried to tell him what was going on in the sporting world, despite knowing that he wasn’t actually taking it all in."

Sean Connery with his hand to his mouth as he looks up

Sean Connery's widow later revealed that the actor struggled with dementia. (Ben Hider)

According to the book, Connery’s health was kept private "for some time" as he spent his final days surrounded by "sprawling golf courses, near wide-open silky sands and… clear blue Bahamian waters."

Following his death, Connery’s son Jason told the BBC that the 007 icon was "unwell for some time." Shortly after, Connery’s widow revealed he had dementia.

"It was no life for him," the French-Moroccan artist told the Mail on Sunday. "It took its toll on him. He was not able to express himself latterly."

Micheline Roqueburne wearing a sparkling dark blue dress next to Sean Connery smiling in a tux

"It was no life for him," Micheline Roquebrune told the Mail on Sunday about husband Sean Connery battling dementia, a devastating disease. (Georges De Keerle)

The 94-year-old shared that Connery "got his final wish to slip away without any fuss."

"At least he died in his sleep, and it was just so peaceful," she said. "I was with him all the time, and he just slipped away. It was what he wanted."

Pilato said that Roquebrune remained devoted to Connery throughout his health battle. The couple were married from 1975 until his death.

Sean Connery wearing a blue blazer and a white shirt with a hat

Sean Connery attends Day 12 of the US Open at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York City on Sept. 11, 2015. (Jean Catuffe/GC Images)

"I think that relationship worked because she was not an actress," he explained. "She was dedicated to him. And their relationship was great for years, decades. She was there for him right to the end. They went to the Bahamas, and they ended up spending the rest of his life there."

"I think it was hard for his wife, his son and fans who loved him," said Pilato. "It’s hard to see anybody get sick and become frail."

The Bahamas gave Connery the peace he had long searched for outside the limelight.

Sean Connery holding his wifes arms open

Sean Connery lived out his final years in the Bahamas with his wife. (PA Images)

"Maybe there was an essence of the whole living like James Bond," said Pilato. "All of the locales in the Bond movies were so exotic. It must have been like, ‘I’ve been everywhere. I’ve traveled everywhere. I grew up in a not-so-wonderful environment, a factory-driven soiled town. Now it’s time for me to live my last days in these beautiful surroundings.'"

"It’s probably as close to heaven as far the look was concerned," Pilato added.

According to reports, Connery relocated to the Bahamas in the late ‘90s, but life in paradise wasn’t without its challenges. In 2006, his first wife, Diane Cilento, wrote an autobiography, "My Nine Lives," in which she alleged that Connery was abusive. He vehemently denied the allegations.

Sean Connery admiring his wife Diane Cilento

Sean Connery is pictured with his new bride, actress Diane Cilento, on their honeymoon near Marbella in Southern Spain, shortly after their secret wedding in Gibraltar, circa 1962. The marriage ended in 1973. (Staff/Mirrorpix)

The couple married in 1962, but the union was tempestuous. It ended in 1973.

"I think it’s important to clarify — you don’t know what goes on in these relationships between people," Pilato explained. "[And] the people directly involved, both Sean and Diane, are gone now… She was an actress. He was an actor. So there was that competition going on. And when he first became James Bond, people were obsessed with him. He liked it in the beginning, [but] he didn’t expect it to be what it became, which was this amazing phenomenon. So then he got sick of it."

"In the meantime, Diane was trying to carve a little part of her career out, and she was getting overshadowed by Sean," Pilato continued. "So they were both sick of James Bond. I think that contributed to whatever issues they had. Stardom is a tough thing for everyone, but when you reach the height that Sean reached with James Bond, it’s even harder."

Sean Connery holding a gun as James Bond

Sean Connery's fame as James Bond took a toll on his first marriage. (Getty Images)

According to Pilato, Connery was "startled" by Cilento’s allegations. It was that same year Connery confirmed his retirement from acting.

Pilato suspected that Cilento’s shocking claims, along with Connery’s "disappointing" 2003 film "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen," contributed to his retirement.

Over the years, Connery "made peace" with Bond, a role he once abandoned to carve out an Oscar-winning career in other rugged roles. Connery had previously been wary of playing 007 again, fearing he wasn’t being taken seriously as an actor. He starred in seven Bond films between 1962 and 1983.


Sean Connery leaning into Ursula Andress in a promotional photo for a James Bond film

Sean Connery and Ursula Andress on the set of "Dr. No" (1962). (Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)

"He had this love-hate relationship with James Bond," said Pilato. "But there was always a little measure of Bond, I think, in everything he did… Finally, before he left this world, he came to peace with being Bond. I’m not sure if he came to peace with whatever was going on with his [first] wife."

Cilento died in 2011 at age 79.

Pilato said the secret behind Connery’s lasting marriage to Roquebrune was surprisingly simple — golf.

Sean Connery and his wife wearing matching formal suits

Sean Connery and Micheline Roquebrune bonded over golf. (Ralph Dominguez/MediaPunch via Getty Images)

As his acting roles diminished when he reached his 70s, Connery spent most of his time at his tax-free home at Lynford Cay where he played golf every morning, often with his wife.

"That’s how they met," Pilato chuckled. "They met on some French golf course… Golf was a driving force in the relationship… He was, at the heart of it, a regular-life guy. He didn’t care about Hollywood. He didn’t care about any of that. He wanted to be successful as an actor. He didn’t care about the stardom that happened. He enjoyed it, and then he hated it. But that was not the plan."

Pilato hopes his book will paint "a bigger picture of who Sean was as a man, as an actor and as a human being."


Sean Connery and Harrison Ford acting out a scene from the film Indiana Jones

Harrison Ford, right, and Sean Connery in the 1989 film "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade."   (Murray Close)

"Sean Connery was James Bond," he said. "As much as he tried to escape it, he couldn’t. As much as he tried to go beyond Bond, he did, but ultimately, he didn’t. It was a constant back and forth… And in many ways, he was a mystery."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Stephanie Nolasco covers entertainment at