The Scottish Mail on Sunday
Did Sean Connery REALLY have gay liaison?
Sensationalist claim in writer’s racy memoir
HE was the ultimate ladies’ man, amassing a legion of female fans – and lovers – as the original 007.
Yet a racy new memoir hints that Sir Sean Connery may also have enjoyed an intimate encounter with a male admirer in his younger years.
The original James Bond, who died last year aged 90, is understood to be the ‘muscular’ young actor with the ‘strong Scottish brogue’ travel writer Roderic Fenwick Owen claims to have bedded after a London costume ball in the early 1950s.
In Oh, What A Lovely Century – a collection of Fenwick Owen’s diary entries set for release next week – the gay writer describes in detail a late-night dalliance with a ‘swarthy pirate’ who introduced himself as ‘Shone’.
Eton-educated Fenwick Owen said his bedfellow was ‘handsome and hairy in all the right places’ and said he went on to become ‘one of the great heart-throbs of our times... voted Sexiest Man Alive’ – a title bestowed on Connery numerous times during his lengthy career.
However, he said: ‘It would be nice to claim that this was one of the best nights ever, but that wouldn’t be true... he didn’t mind mild goings-on, but wasn’t enthusias
‘I don’t mind skylarking but I’d be happier with the lights out’
tic, merely tolerant.’ While the author, who died in 2011 and had asked that his memoirs be published after his death, does not name Connery in the book, a footnote by the editor states: ‘All the clues point to this being Sean Connery, who would have been in his early twenties at the time, seeking to become an actor after an early career as a body-builder.’
The dates and details also match Connery’s movements at that time. After a stint in the Royal Navy and some success as a body-builder and model, Connery tried his hand at acting in the early 1950s.
He made his stage debut in a walk-on part in 1952 in The Glorious Days, at the Empire in Edinburgh, now the Festival Theatre. He was given the role of a Guardsman because of his 6ft 2in height.
The event where the pair are said to have met was the 1952 Vic Wells Ball at London’s Lyceum Theatre. The fundraising costume ball was remarkable for that era because men could attend dressed as women, with no objections.
Aristocrat and RAF veteran Fenwick Owen, who was 30 at the time and had a failed marriage to a Tahitian princess under his belt, had recently come to the realisation he preferred ‘male romantic connections’ – despite homosexual acts being illegal at the time.
On meeting the young Scot, he wrote: ‘In the early hours of the morning I spotted a pirate, dancing clumsily. He was very good looking in a swarthy, piratical way, with broad shoulders owing nothing to padding. On seeing him retreat by himself to a corner, I hurried over before anyone else could step in, to ask for the pleasure of the next waltz. He smiled back boldly, yet shyly, as though not too sure of himself, before saying in a Scottish accent, “I can only dance as a man, you know”.
‘He told me that his name was “Shone”, which I supposed was his way of pronouncing “John”, and that he’d come to the big city hoping to find a job in the theatre.
‘It seemed rather an unlikely aspiration for someone looking like a garage-hand, but what a splendid garage-hand. Good physique and an attractive brogue, even if it were a dash too strong for professional purposes.’
At the end of the night, the pair went back to Fenwick Owen’s London apartment, where ‘without further ado’ they ‘hopped into the double bed’. ‘I don’t mind a bit of skylarking, Rod,’ he said. ‘But I’d be happier with the lights out.
‘At that moment, the name of that actor come south to seek his fortune meant nothing to anyone.
‘Who could have guessed that he would shoot up as spectacularly as he did? One of the great heartthrobs of our times, even voted the Sexiest Man Alive.’
Connery went on to marry Oscarnominated Australian actress Diane Cilento in 1962 and they had a son, Jason. Shortly after their divorce a decade later he met and married French artist Micheline Roquebrune. The couple were together until his death.