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Window Seat: Death of two rock-stars

8/11/2020 at 7:00 AM

Dr Mrinal Chatterjee

In the last three months, two rock-stars of cinema and journalism born in different parts of Great Britain breathed their last.

Sean Connery, arguable the most definitive James Bond died on 31 October. He was age of 90.Sir Harold Evans arguably one of the greatest editors we have had in recent times died on 23 September. He was 92.

Besides the age and agility, they had many other things in common. Both rose to the pinnacle of glory from a humble background. Both struggled hard to reach the top. And both suffered a dramatic downturn in their career- when they were on the top. Both married twice.

Sean Connery was born on 25 August 1930 in downtown Edinburgh, Scotland in a poor family, He dropped out of school, joined Royal Navy and wasinvalidated in three years. He scraped a living any way he could. He drove trucks, worked as a lifeguard and posed as a model at the Edinburgh College of Art. He spent his spare time bodybuilding.

Connery made the first of many appearances as a film extra in the 1954. There were minor roles on television too, including a gangster in an episode of the BBC police drama Dixon of Dock Green.In 1957, he got his first leading role in Blood Money, a BBC reworking of Requiem for a Heavyweight, in which he portrayed a boxer whose career is in decline.

And then came Bond. Producers Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman had acquired the rights to film Ian Fleming’s novels and were looking for an actor to portray 007.

Richard Burton, Cary Grant and Rex Harrison were all considered, even Lord Lucan and the BBC’s Peter Snow.

It was Broccoli’s wife, Dana, who persuaded her husband that Connery had the magnetism and sexual chemistry for the part.

Connery made the character his own, blending ruthlessness with sardonic wit. Many critics didn’t like it and some of the reviews were scathing. But the public did not agree.

The action scenes, sex and exotic locations were a winning formula. The first film, Dr No, made a pile of money at the box office. More outings swiftly followed – From Russia with Love (1963), Goldfinger (1964), Thunderball (1965) and You Only Live Twice (1967).

Playing Bond  was exhausting and occasionally dangerous.

There was other work though, including Alfred Hitchcock’s Marnie, and The Hill, a drama about a wartime British Army prison in North Africa.

But by the time You Only Live Twice was completed, Connery was tiring of Bond and feared being typecast.

He turned down On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, with the role given to Australian actor George Lazenby, whose career never recovered.

Saltzman and Broccoli lured Connery back for Diamonds Are Forever in 1971, meeting the actor’s demand for a huge fee. Connery used it to set up the Scottish International Education Trust, supporting the careers of up-and-coming Scottish artists.

Sean played many other roles. But playing Bond was the high-point in his career and though his Bond is a museum piece now- he will be remembered for that.

Harold Evans was born on 28 June 1928 in Greater Manchester, England. An Engine-Driver’s son, his career began as a reporter for a weekly newspaper in Lancashire at 16 years old.

After completing his national service in the Royal Air Force, he entered Durham University where he graduated with honours in politics and economics and subsequently earned a Master of Arts degree for a thesis on foreign policy. He became an assistant editor of the Manchester Evening News and won Fellowship in 1956-57 for travel and study in the United States.

On his return he was appointed editor of the regional daily The Northern Echo, where one of his campaigns resulted in a national programme for the detection of cervical cancer.

Evans was at his best during his 14-year tenure as editor of the Sunday Times. It was here that he refined his crusading style of investigative reporting. It became a kind of template for investigative reporting, which many good newspapers including The Statesman and Indian Express in India tried to emulate with varying degree of success.

When Rupert Murdoch acquired Times Newspapers Limited in 1981, Evans was appointed editor of The Times. However, he remained with the paper only a year, resigning over policy differences relating to editorial independence. Evans wrote an account in a book entitled Good Times, Bad Times (1984).

This was a turning point in the life of Harold Evans. From this point, Evans the great crusading editor gradually pushed to oblivion. Instead emerged Harold Evans, the writer-editor and husband of Tina Brown, his second wife, who later became editor of New Yorker.

Tailpiece: Why God cannot sue the Engineer in Hell!

An Engineer dies but lands in Hell.

He’s talking with Satan & says, “What a terrible place! It’s very hot, dark, smoky”

Satan says, “Well, what did you expect? this IS Hell!”

The engineer says “Do you have a compressor, some tubing, and wire?

Satan says, “Yeah, we might have some of that stuff around, I’ll check and see what I can find for you.”

Satan finds the stuff & the engineer starts designing improvements. After a while, Hell has air conditioning, iced water, good  lighting, flush toilets & escalators. The engineer is a pretty  popular!

One day God calls and tells Satan, “Say, we had a  mix-up. I was checking records & discovered that by error an engineer  got sent down to you. He should have come to Heaven. All engineers  go to Heaven. You need to transfer him up here.”

Satan says,  “Why, things are going great. We’ve now got air conditioning, iced  water, flush toilets, great lighting, and escalators, and there’s no  telling what this engineer is going to come up with next. We like him!  We’re going to keep him.”

God is horrified. “That’s clearly a mistake! He should never have gone down there in the first place! Send  him up here immediately!”

Satan says, “No way! I really like having an engineer on the staff. I’m keeping him.”

God says, “Send him back up here or I’ll sue you!”

Satan laughs, “Yeah, right, Good luck on that. Where are you going to find a lawyer?!”

(Courtesy: Social Media)


Journalist turned media academician MrinalChatterjee lives in Dhenkanal, Odisha. He also writes fiction and translates poetry from Urdu and Hindi to Odia and Bengali. mrinalchatterjeeiimc@gmail.com

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