Sir Sean Connery [Photo: Courtesy]

Sir Sean Connery has died at the age of 90. The sad news was confirmed by Sean's family, reports the BBC. The actor enjoyed a long and distinguished career but is best known for playing James Bond in the movie franchise.

Sir Sean was the first star to play the 007 on the big screen in 1962's Dr No - and remained for many fans the 'best Bond ever' after starring in seven hit films in total. With a hugely successful career spanning more than 40 years, Sir Sean went on to win an Oscar, two Baftas and three Golden Globes. 

The proud Scotsman was knighted in 2000 for his services to film drama which he accepted wearing full highland dress. Following the tragic announcement today, tribute have begun pouring in for the much-loved and respected star from heartbroken fans as well as politicians and celebrities.

Sir Sean Connery [Photo: Courtesy]

The Official James Bond Twitter account shared a heartfelt statement from producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli who said they were 'devastated' by the news. They praised Connery for revolutionising the world with his 'gritty and witty' portrayal of the secret service agent, acknowledging the franchise may never have taken off if it wasn't for his star quality.

Wilson and Brocolli shared: "We are devastated by the news of the passing of Sir Sean Connery. 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."

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Fellow Scotsman Robert Carlyle tweeted: "RIP Sir Sean Connery.. a trailblazer, a true legend and a gentleman." First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon also paid her respects on social media, saying that Scotland was in mourning. "I was heartbroken to learn this morning of the passing of Sir Sean Connery. Our nation today mourns one of her best-loved sons. Sean was born into a working-class Edinburgh family and through talent & sheer hard work, became an international film icon and one of the world's most accomplished actors."

Piers Morgan shared: "RIP Sir Sean Connery, 90. The first James Bond. The best James Bond. What sad news."Gary Lineker paid tribute to Bond's classic catchphrase in his tribute as he posted on Twitter: "Former England striker Gary Lineker said: "Shaken and, on this occasion, stirred to hear that Sir Sean Connery has passed away. "Had the pleasure of playing golf with him on a couple of occasions. A real character and for me, the best Bond. James Bond should be immortal. RIP."

Sir Sean took home an Academy Award in 1998 for best-supporting actor for his role as a tough Irish police officer in The Untouchables. Among his other hit films include in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Dragonheart and Murder on the Orient Express. When Sir Sean turned 90 in August the team behind James Bond paid a special tribute to his contribution to the franchise by producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson.

Sir Sean was regarded as a sex symbol by many [Photo: Popperfoto]

The James Bond Twitter account wrote: "Happy Birthday to our original 007, Sean Connery, who turns 90 today. With love from Michael, Barbara, everyone at EON and all your fans." A poll conducted by the Radio Times the same month declared Sir Sean the best James Bond ever by fans.

More than 14,000 people voted for their favourite Bond with Daniel Craig, Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan giving Sir Sean some stiff competition. Dr No, the first of the Bond films, turned the actor into an international star. His fame only grew with the ever more popular sequels From Russia With Love, Goldfinger and Thunderball.

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After 1967's You Only Live Twice, Sir Sean turned his back on the franchise over fears of being typecast but was persuaded back for 1971s Diamonds Are Forever. Sir Sean left Bond behind again, only to be coaxed back for a second time for 1983's Never Say Never. Despite Sir Sean's reservations, his time on Bond opened up him to a huge audience and cemented his status as an international sex symbol.