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Prokofiev’s “Peter & the Wolf” narrated by Sean Connery. (London label) 1966
Connery recorded this version of the children’s classic at the Royal Festival Hall with Antal Dorati and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in the spring of 1966 just before commencing work at Pinewood Studios on the fifth Bond epic “You only live twice”. It’s a masterly rendition of this children’s classic and is now thankfully available on CD to enthral more generations of four year olds.
In My Life (1998)
Connery’s spoken word contribution to Sir George Martin’s production swansong – a musical tribute to The Beatles featuring an eclectic mix of artists. His measured narration adds even more poignancy to Lennon’s original literary homage to former lovers and childhood reminiscences. A truly wonderful recording.
There are many highly enjoyable mainstream movies in which he has appeared but the following roles stretched his abilities.
Unfortunately, to a great extent, the last fifteen years of his career, whilst admittedly littered with large box office takings, somewhat belied the actor’s oft stated commitment to quality, thought provoking roles. The following link to an article by Pat Kane in ‘The London Observer’ dated 25 june, 2000, eloquently summarises this contradiction in many of the actor’s choice of film roles.
Anna Karenina (BBC TV 1961)
Now available on DVD this long forgotten classic teamed Connery with Claire Bloom and his dashing performance as Count Vronsky convinced Broccoli and Saltzman that they had their man.
It was an ambitious, big-budget drama for its time, made in black and white and lasting about two hours, and it helped establish the BBC’s reputation for quality literary adaptations. It was broadcast once on the BBC in November 1961, when Britain had only two television channels, and then the recording was stuck on a shelf to gather dust.
Many hits from the period were lost forever when the BBC reused tapes or simply threw out recordings and it was thought Anna Karenina had suffered a similar fate, a point reiterated in a 2010 biography of Connery which insisted that the recording no longer existed. Anoraks worth their salt have known for years that this was clearly not the position. In 1983 Barry Norman interviewed Connery the week of the London premiere of his seventh Bond outing “Never Say Never Again” and prefaced the film of the meeting with a ten minute retrospective on the man’s career to date. A choice cut from this BBC production was used and then ten years later a further clip was introduced by Jo Brand during Valentines weekend. The BBC only had to ask me and I could have told them to look harder. In reality it’s standard marketing fare to make purchasers believe that a new DVD release has only just been discovered after long being thought lost forever. Aficionados merely sigh when they read the clippings!
Anna Karenina is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest works of world literature. It was written by Leo Tolstoy, who also wrote War and Peace.
The title role of the ill-fated aristocrat who falls for Vronsky was played by Claire Bloom, one of Britains’s top actresses of the time, a double Bafta-winner, who starred with Chaplin in Limelight and Olivier in Richard III and would later play Lady Marchmain in Brideshead Revisited. But it is the 31 year old Connery who was singled out for praise in reviews. He commands the screen as the handsome young officer, with a thin moustache and an extensive wardrobe of fancy military uniforms, a man who would make a sane woman sacrifice her family and ultimately herself for love.
Within six months of filming this production in June 1961 at BBC television centre, the actor was in Jamaica with an unknown Ursula Andress launching the franchise that would be synonymous with swinging Britain. Out went the black and white kitchen sink operas in favour of a man with a licence to kill. Audible gasps from audiences around the world could be heard when Dr No played to packed houses – murdering Anthony Dawson as Professor Dent seemed cold blooded and calculating. Pausing only long enough to blow out his Walter PPK silencer Connery seemed indifferent to the slaying whilst nochalantly announcing the arrival of the ultimate anti-hero.
From Russia with love (1963)
My favourite Bond movie of them all, and a view shared by many including Connery himself.
Joanna Harwood’s revised sceenplay enhances Fleming’s espionage novel allowing SPECTRE to play the Russians off against the British Secret Service. Connery prowls like a panther, and the climactic fight scene with Robert Shaw aboard the Orient Express – suitably enhanced by taut editing from Peter Hunt – took three days to film .
JFK arranged a private screening in the White House on November 20 1963, the day before he left for Dallas, and the terminally ill Pedro Armendariz – Bond’s ally Kerim Bey in the film – was already dead, having taken his own life in hospital the previous summer. Members of the film crew were badly injured, and Connery himself was nearly decapitated in the Scottish Highlands whilst evading the Spectre helicopter. Nevertheless, in spite of all these problems, “From Russia with Love” would signal the arrival of 007 as one of celluloid’s stellar immortals.
The Hill (1965)
Connery’s first teaming with director Sidney Lumet, and undoubtedly one of his finest performances on screen. The stark black and white photography, the revealing close up shots, and Ian Hendry as the staff sergeant from hell, combine to produce a piece of work as far removed from the gilt edged world of 007 as imaginable.
Connery’s Joe Robertson works the military psyche to his advantage, but is ultimately undone by the predictable brutality of military life. The cast was bedevilled with dysentry during the Spanish shoot, but the actor remains understandably proud of the end product.
The Offence (1972)
Part of the two picture deal with United Artists which Connery secured in return for returning to the mink lined world of 007, “The Offence” was based upon the play “This Story of Yours” by John Hopkins, and is a film that seems to deconstruct the proselytizing relationship between director and audience, turning it into something unhealthy and disturbing. Since people go to the cinema in order to have their moral compasses reset, whether it be to watch a romantic comedy in order to re-connect with what it is to be really in love or to experience a more entertaining form of sunday sermon they do, nevertheless, expect guidance. The director Sidney Lumet is not so obliging taking the viewer through a narrative process that is played out of sequence. He is not so concerned with giving us some insight into the nature of evil, or constructing a character of an avenging angel with a dark secret, instead he subtly rams home the point about the fragility of our sense of self and how desperate we are for someone, anyone, to tell us who we are and what we are doing. Rather than giving his audience answers, Lumet gives us a series of uncomfortable questions that leave us, much like Connery’s character, incredibly unsure of where we stand. The director’s approach lays the blueprint for my own personal rationale to these website commentaries.
In the film, Connery is the copper we all instinctively fear. A veteran detective and full-time thug, he is brought in to investigate a series of sexual attacks on local children. Clad in a little hat and the kind of sheepskin coat favoured by football managers (Malcolm Allison in the 70’s springs to mind), his character swaggers about the place pouring scorn on the efforts of his colleagues and endlessly bickering with his upper class superior (a wonderfully cast Peter Bowles of “To The Manner Born” fame). Johnson is a fusion of the Dirty Harry-style avenging angel and the shop-soiled white knight of Noir films and fiction. In fact, it is never clear which of these archetypes he fits into. When a little girl is abducted, Johnson is the first upon the scene and for the first time in his career he is profoundly affected when he sees the raped little girl. Rather than alerting the other police, he sits beside her to soothe her softly whilst reassuring her that everything will be alright. By the time his colleagues catch up with him, he has wrapped the child up tenderly in his sheepskin coat and appears momentarily “disengaged” that this moment of intimacy with the child should have been interrupted. Certain critics have hinted at suppressed paedophilic tendencies within Johnson himself, but this suggestion is never explored more fully. In any event, from hereon in, Connery’s character begins to fall apart.
When the suspected child molester is brought in for interrogation, the scene is set for the ultimate denouement, yet Lumet then sees fit to subsequently revisit the circumstances of Johnson’s life that led him to the moment the viewer has just witnessed. Old friend Ian Bannen is breathtakingly convincing as the suspected child molester, backpeddling initially before needling Connery half mockingly, half sympathetically, until the beleagured copper voices all the doubts and traumas he carries within him as a result of witnessed events in his career.
I saw the film in the spring of 1980 when the BBC screened it before vacating these shores for six months, and I didn’t see it again for another thirty eight years! Throughout the intervening period, I still remembered it vividly. In the movie, Johnson’s wife cannot ease his malaise and the suspect plays on his weaknesses. It is powerful social drama and Connery would have scooped several awards if more than two people had seen it at the cinema. As it was, the film has become something of a cult classic, a fate befalling several of the actor’s cinematic efforts.
The Man who would be King (1975)
The inspired teaming of Connery and Caine permitted the veteran director John Huston to realise a twenty year project he had dreamed about since the originally mooted pairing of Humphrey Bogart and Spencer Tracey. The duo were rumoured to be reuniting in a Handmade production entitled “Travelling Men” ten years later, but sadly the project did not materialise. Both men regularly cite it as a highlight of their careers and this time Connery’s efforts were rewarded with both excellent critical reviews and solid box office takings. The always excellent Christopher Plummer provided solid support as Rudyard Kipling.
Robin and Marian (1976)
Audrey Hepburn emerged from a nine year sabbatical to co-star with Connery in a tale of middle aged love, torn, frazzled but more intact than the couple can even comprehend until events overtake them. “Were there many women on your crusades?” asks Marian timorously. “I don’t want to know” comes her reply when Robin answers in the affirmative. Connery, standing behind her, shrugs his shoulders before the intervention of divine inspiration. “But they all looked like you” he says half smilingly, before losing himself in his thoughts.
There is more to unfold in the story, as Connery charmingly re-engages with the ‘wisp of a girl’ he left behind some twenty earlier in support of the King’s Holy War. Rebuffing her suitor’s presumptuousness – ‘I’ve come home to you Marian,’ – she will nonetheless shun the convent as testimony to personal feelings that exceed her love of God. A few fortunate men in this world, whatever their failings, may realise that they are similarly blessed.
The Name of the Rose (1986)
Originally titled “Il nome della rosa” the movie was directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud and was based on the book of the same name by Umberto Eco. The novel is so large that several screenplays could effectively be fashioned from it. Connery is the Franciscan friar William of Baskerville and Christian Slater is his apprentice Adso of Melk, who are called upon to solve a deadly mystery in a medieval abbey.
It was undoubtedly the actor’s most arduous shoot, and garnered him a BAFTA award in 1988.
The Untouchables (1987)
Connery’s Oscar winning performance in a supporting role playing the grizzled Irish cop Jimmy Malone. Yes the accent disconcertingly wavers within thirty minutes, and the storyline loses a degree of momentum after his screen death, but in-between it’s one of his finest moments throughout.
Choosing to see out one’s professional days in a sea of lethargy, compared to striking a blow for one’s beliefs in the dog eat dog world of policing is the understandable soft option. Connery demurs when initially approached by Kevin Costner as Elliott Ness, but changes his mind to help form the elite group and to tutor “George Stone” in the art of good policing. His character becomes a man possessed, finally re-engaging with his real self and his raison d’etre. For Connery, it was a script made in heaven and he knew it.
Indiana Jones and the last crusade (1989)
The penultimate Indiana movie, and the best of them all. Connery steals the film from his first appearance to the closing reel, and his comedic talents reach previously unimaginable heights. Whatever George Lucas’s original conception of the father figure, Sean already had firm ideas of his own. Relationship problems between father and son (Harrison Ford) are well to the fore and matters aren’t helped by the rascally old man getting to Elsa first. “How did you know she was a nazi?” enquires the flustered Indy. “She talks in her sleep” replies his father before Connery adds a coda to his son’s bewildered features with the briefest of impish grins. “I didn’t trust her, why did you?”
Classic stuff. The two actors got along famously, and it shows.
The Hunt for Red October (1990)
A blockbuster, and Connery’s most financially successful non-Bond movie. A defecting Russian nuclear submarine commander is not the stuff of universal appeal, but women also attended screenings in droves. Perhaps it was the uniform!
Finding Forrester (2000)
Connery’s character in the film mirrors the life of the American writer J.D. Salinger, best known for his only novel, The Catcher in the Rye (1951), in which his depiction of adolescent alienation and loss of innocence in the protagonist Holden Caulfield was influential, especially among adolescent readers.
In the movie, a black American teenager, Jamal Wallace (Rob Brown), is invited into a prestigious private high school after earning a scholarship. The boy is an intellectually and athletically gifted black teen who carefully hides his passion for books from everyone until he meets William Forrester, a mysterious elderly white man who lives cloistered in a nearby apartment building. Initially, in Forrester, Jamal finds individual tutorship that any enthusiastic adolescent can only dream about, but in time the relationship morphs into something much deeper especially when the dying writer is morally compelled to defend his “pupil.”
I must confess to nearly giving up on the film during its initial terrestrial screening, for the ambiance in the old man’s building is dark and sombre, and the relationship doesn’t get off to the best of starts. When the young student returns to Forrester’s home to enquire whether the old man will assist him with his writing, Connery gruffly replies “Here’s one – 5,000 words on why you’ll stay the fuck out of my home!” The young student is not intimidated and when Forrester mentions not seeing his homeland for years, Jamal taunts him with the riposte “Oh you mean Ireland?” “Scotland for God’s sake” comes the exasperated reply before the aspiring writer lapses into ghetto jive “I’m messing with you man!”
An excruciatingly slow burn movie but one well worth persevering with; Sean’s swansong in the serious acting stakes.
In total, Connery has won an Academy Award, two BAFTA Awards (one of them being a BAFTA Academy Fellowship Award) and three Golden Globes (including the Cecil B. DeMille Award and a Henrietta Award).
Sean Connery (Michael Feeney Callan)
This volume was first published in 1983 whilst Connery was gearing up for his seventh and final outing as Bond and substantially revised and updated in 2000. There have been a number of subsequent biographies but Feeny Callan was fortunate to talk to several key colleagues and friends such as Robert Hardy and the late Ian Bannen who offered intriguing insights into the man behind the public image.
Despite his tough guy image, the actor is one of the world’s worst hypochondriacs, and if his son is to be believed, the merest sight of a needle is enough to put him “away with the fairies.” His close friend Sir Michael Caine is mindful to enquire after his friend’s health only if he has an hour or two to spare. Whilst most of us will instantly dismiss our concerns by replying “fine thank you,” Connery presumes you are genuinely interested!!!
Youtube – Some rare Tv appearances including “What’s my Line?” recorded in late ’65 whilst Connery was on location in New York filming “A Fine Madness”.
Unfortunately nobody to date has posted a copy of the BBC Tv documentary made about Sean, and first broadcast at Xmas 1981. The interviewer Donny McCleod has since died, and there may be legal reasons involved. The programme was notable for including clips from many of his early television appearances such as “The Crucible”, “Age of Kings” and “Anna Karenina”.
I’m still waiting to see his tuxedoed appearance on the Millicent Martin Show in 1967 around the time of “You Only Live Twice”, but suspect the footage may not survive.
The official site including a gallery of Micheline Connery’s paintings.
Whicker's World (25/3/67)
A fascinating look at Connery near the end of his tether with the whole Bond bandwagon. A small segment was included with the Ultimate Edition double DVD of the film, but the entire programme remained elusive until 2014.
The 53 minute programme is now available to view on YouTube, but for how long?
_Last update : 02/02/21
This portrait of Sean Connery dates from 1963, at a time of professional and personal changes in his life. He had just married his first wife, the actress Diane Cilento and fatherhood was looming – his first and only child Jason being born that April.
Later that year he would complete three movies, including his second Bond outing, and revisit Hollywood for the first time since the late 50’s to work for the master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock.
Like millions of cinema goers I first saw him as James Bond when ‘Doctor No’ and ‘From Russia with Love’ were reissued as a double bill, several years after their first appearance at the box office. I was seven, and experienced nightmares for several weeks lest Rosa Klebb should enter my bedroom and stab me to death with her poison tipped steel shoes. Sean might have been convinced she was dead at the end of the film with that flippant aside “She’s had her kicks,” but I was never quite so sure.
I probably belong to that smaller percentage of original Bond fans who have read every one of Ian Fleming’s novels. I certainly never meet anyone else who has read them, and yet they whiled away more than three generations of male summer holidays as a result of their widespread availability in virtually all the world’s major airports. Most people will instinctively cite ‘Goldfinger’ as the blueprint for the success of the series but for me and certainly for Connery, it was the second movie ‘From Russia with love’ that perfectly encapsulated Fleming’s writing on the big screen. In truth, Sean’s enthusiasm for the role peaked after the first two adventures, and when Saltzman and Brocolli refused to make him an equal partner in Eon Productions the dye was cast. For sure, there has been life for Bond outside of the Connery portrayal, but a continuity that could well have lasted more than twenty years was lost. Whatever the professional frustrations of typecasting, partnership earnings from Eon Productions would have compensated. At the end of the day Sean is a Scotsman, and the sound of pennies clinking together is appealing. It must have been frustrating for him to see his own image adorning one household item after another, from lampshades to plates, without participating financially in the Bond merchandising bonanza. When 007 producer Cubby Brocolli died, Connery refused to attend his funeral, but having previously stated that he “wouldn’t piss on the man if he was on fire,” his non appearance was hardly surprising. After all, this is the actor who bought his own bank out of an inherent mistrust of financial managers, and bankrupted Allied Artists in the late 70’s for non payment of fees.
He was not a man of a thousand voices, but the listed movies at the end of this commentary are all testimony to a fine actor. In addition there are many other highly enjoyable mainstream movies in which he appeared, but these roles undoubtedly stretched his abilities. He effectively retired in 2004 with little fanfare, reportedly sick of the idiots running Hollywood, and save for several “voice over” projects did not return, a move totally in tune with an essentially very private man.
Connery was a member of the Scottish National Party (SNP) a centre-left political party campaigning for Scottish independence, and supported the party financially and through personal appearances. His monetary contributions to the SNP ceased in 2001, when the UK Parliament passed legislation that prohibited overseas funding of political activities in the UK. In 2008, Connery said in the Scottish Sunday Express that he believed Scotland would become an independent country within his lifetime, and praised the work of the SNP in a minority government after their victory in the 2007 Scottish Parliament election. The actor was criticised for commenting on UK politics while living as a tax exile in the Bahamas, although he released documents in 2003 showing that he had paid £3.7 million in UK taxes between 1997/98 and 2002/03. The actor swore he would not return to Scotland until it became an independent state. The release of those tax documents displayed an interesting side to his personality since the subject of non payment of taxes clearly troubled him, but as to why he was so prickly on the matter or even bothered to protest his innocence, we can only speculate. In the final analysis one’s detractors will always choose to believe what they want. If the man paid £3.7m in UK taxes, perhaps he should really have paid twice that amount. People are more comfortable believing the worst in others.
In 1971, Connery donated his £1.2m fee for “Diamonds are Forever” to his entrepreneurial venture, The Scottish International Education Trust. The Trust is not able to make very large grants, being mainly in the range £1,000-£3,000 and the trustees (including Connery himself), are most likely to respond positively to applications which set out a specific project or activity where a sum of that order would make a substantial difference. They do not normally contribute to general appeals for funds, nor to the general running costs of an organisation, to building appeals, or where the Trustees judge that a project is primarily of a commercial nature. His devotion to his homeland and his immersion in Scottish politics delayed his knighthood by three years and of course, living as a tax exile, he had his detractors in certain quarters. Nevertheless, Connery wore his heart on his sleeve and his commitment to the cause of young “actively mobile” scots defined his philanthropic nature. When he made his Oscar acceptance speech he began simply enough, “Ladies and gentlemen, friends.. then pausing momentarily to survey the auditorium, “and a few enemies”. Hypocrisy, if nothing else, was not a character trait that one could level against this man and I shared his sentiments.
Equally he was not regular fodder for the tabloid press although the subject of his first marriage continued to stalk him at varying intervals.
His first wife , the actress Diane Cilento died in 2011. Their union proved rich gossip-column fodder. In her autobiography, ‘My Nine Lives’ (2006), she claimed that Connery insisted she give up her career and, when she refused, turned petty and violent. Word went out, she wrote, that he would never work with anyone who employed her, and he stopped her housekeeping money.
She realised the marriage was over, she also wrote in ‘My Nine Lives,’ when Connery “bashed my face in with his fists”. The alleged assault in 1964 echoed an infamous interview Connery would give to Playboy magazine the following year in which he observed: “I don’t think there is anything particularly wrong about hitting a woman — although I don’t recommend doing it in the same way that you hit a man”.
“An open-handed slap is justified — if all other alternatives fail and there has been plenty of warning. If a woman is a bitch, or hysterical or bloody-minded continually, then I’d do it.”
Connery has always insisted that his words were taken out of context, and also denied hitting Diane Cilento.
Her own version of events was recounted by the author Geoffrey Wansell in his 2001 biography of Connery. She had been chatting to a waiter in a bar in Spain. A furious Connery, she claimed, took her to their room and punched her between the eyes with his fist, then hit her in the face repeatedly until she collapsed unconscious. Her face, she told Wansell, ballooned out “like a giant puffer fish” and a blood clot formed in one eye for six weeks. The beautiful Oscar nominee was terrified that she had lost her looks forever and would never work again.
Although she came to regard Connery as a monster, she put her marital woes behind her. “I could hear my mother’s voice in my ears: ‘There’s nothing less attractive than a moaning, whining woman, Diane’,” she wrote .
Connery is still dogged by accusations of male chauvinism and in particular, his Playboy magazine comments. Barbra Walters explored this comment more than twenty years later on US television and Connery attempted to explain himself. I don’t think he succeeded because personally I don’t agree that there is ever any justification for hitting a woman, but should the inclination surface, then I fully favour walking away from the relationship never to return. The French recognise the “crime of passion,” – that point in time when heightened emotions can overcome reasoned thinking – but the stiff British upper lip mentality accords us no such concession in a court of law. I have known women who believe emotional mind games are essential to the well being of a relationship. I am content to let them get on with such manipulation, only not with me. In Connery’s case, there was never a hint of any reported domestic violence in his second marriage and character traits usually remain consistent throughout one’s life. Perhaps it was an isolated and deeply regrettable episode and however deplorable, indicative of living in close proximity with a strong willed confrontational woman. Only Connery knew, and he took his thoughts to his grave; his 2008 autobiography “Being a Scot” offering little more than a chapter’s worth of personal reminiscences amidst a plethora of arcane facts about his native land.
The strangest aspect to the whole Cilento claim is that the marriage continued for another five years, their son recalling regularly raised voices but no domestic violence, and the actress would maintain a dignified silence about her marriage to Connery for nearly thirty years.
The striking blonde, Australian-born actress was nominated for an Oscar for her lusty performance as village floozy Molly Seagrim in ‘Tom Jones’ (1963), and won a Tony nomination for her portrayal of Helen of Troy on Broadway in Jean Giradoux’s ‘Tiger at the Gates’ (1955) yet withdrew from a full time acting career just as her husband’s fame burgeoned beyond all expectations. At that stage in their lives there was probably mutual envy – he, her professional standing amongst her peers and she, his unprecedented fame as Bond, despite urging him to take the role when it was first offered.
Interviewed by Robin Hughes in her native Australia in 2000 Diane confirmed her reluctance to marry Connery (she was already a divorcee with a daughter), but went on to add that “it all worked out, and we did get married and then I went and had this baby and after that then Sean got to be very successful, but I was the one who was sort of left holding the baby, if you see what I mean, in a way. After we got married, he said, ‘No, no. You can’t work any more. I don’t want you to work’, and suddenly reverted, as it were, to being, I suppose, the Scottish husband, who said you can’t do anything … because … you know. Asked whether he specifically requested that she give up her career Cilento replied “No, because that’s not what they do. They don’t talk in ‘whys’. They just say no. And what’s frightening is that at that time I suppose there was no equality of sexes and things”. In the late 60’s, she developed a side-line in fiction writing and had two novels published to while away her downtime whilst her husband perfected his golf handicap.
Reflecting further on the 60’s she went on to reveal that “it was very … I mean if you think about it again, if I think about it, I see it in a sort of dream world of madness, a different sort of madness, where I was suddenly not the star person, it was Sean. And people were quite blatantly in front of me, sort of you know – ladies would sort of play up to him and he wouldn’t know what to do. And in fact, it was a sort of … when we were by ourselves it was so totally different than in public because he was sort of going bald and had to wear a rug on his head, and I had to sort of shave his back and do all those sort of things so that he could appear as this totally unreal … and people started … and that was the worst thing … started calling him, you know, Bond and things, instead of Sean. And he was very, very worried that he was going to be submerged”.
Diane Cilento married again and outlived her third husband but regrets remained over her break from Connery. The actor Robert Hardy described her as a hard boiled individual, and this side of her character surfaced publicly in 2008 when she permitted a family row over the terms of Connery’s will, specifically his legacy (or lack of it) to their son, to become public knowledge.
As for Connery, his second marriage in 1975 endured until his death at age 90. He was a product of his deprived working class Edinburgh tenant background and it would take a suspension in logic to presume he would ever have become a 21st century man. In any event his second wife Micheline confined her competitive instincts to the golf course, and was content to be a home maker. She evidently knew how to handle him. When he was due to start filming and if she thought he was a little overweight, a small bedside table note to that effect would be left, whereupon she would disappear for the rest of the day. Now that’s what I call an extremely intelligent woman, plus of course she’s been an immensely talented artist in both oils and watercolours throughout her life.
There were heart problems and mobility issues in his last few years in addition to constant denials about dementia from family and friends. As a layman, it was fairly obvious to me that he did have dementia, for little other reason than the condition was so vehemently denied by all and sundry. There are some individuals who live to a ripe old age with no obvious physical or mental impairment and pass away peacefully in their sleep, but they are exceptions to the rule. The man had seriously retreated from public life, and was periodically filmed in New York walking unsteadily on his feet with the aid of a minder. Refusing all entreaties from fans for autographs, he simply looked old and frail. For those of us who remembered him at the peak of his physicality, it was sad to see.