Sean Connery, the actor who originated the role of James Bond, had dementia in the last few months of his life, his wife, Micheline Roquebrune, told The Daily Mail. Mr. Connery died this weekend at age 90 in the Bahamas.
Ms. Roquebrune, who was married to Mr. Connery for 45 years, said the actor “was not able to express himself” in the months leading up to his death. “It was no life for him,” she said. “At least he died in his sleep and it was just so peaceful.”
Mr. Connery played the role of the beloved British secret agent in “Dr. No” (1962), “From Russia With Love” (1963), “Goldfinger” (1964), “Thunderball” (1965), “You Only Live Twice” (1967), “Diamonds Are Forever” (1971) and “Never Say Never Again” (1983).
Ms. Roquebrune, a Moroccan-French painter, married Mr. Connery in 1975. She told The Mail he was a “model of a man” and that life would “be very hard without him.”
“He had dementia, and it took its toll on him,” Ms. Roquebrune said. But, she added, “He got his final wish to slip away without any fuss.”
Dementia, which is a group of conditions characterized by memory loss and impaired judgment, is most commonly caused by Alzheimer’s disease. Although it affects mainly older people, it is not a normal part of aging.
About 50 million people have dementia, with approximately 10 million additional people developing the condition each year, according to the World Health Organization. The early stages often include forgetfulness and becoming disoriented in familiar places, which may progress to becoming lost at home, behavior changes and needing help with personal care. In the final stages of the disease, a person may have difficulty walking and recognizing family and friends.
After Mr. Connery’s death, a number of Bond actors past and present paid tribute to the titan of the silver screen. Daniel Craig, who has played James Bond since 2006, said in a statement on the 007 website on Saturday that Mr. Connery had wit and charm that “could be measured in megawatts” and that he had “helped create the modern blockbuster.”
“He will continue to influence actors and filmmakers alike for years to come,” Mr. Craig said. “My thoughts are with his family and loved ones.”
George Lazenby, who played James Bond in “Her Majesty’s Secret Service” (1969), wrote on Instagram on Mr. Connery’s 90th birthday in August that the actor was not just “the all-time greatest 007,” but, he added in an Instagram post on Saturday, “a man after my own heart.”
“A great actor, a great man and underappreciated artist has left us,” Mr. Lazenby wrote.