Thunderball for Sean Connery

Thunderball for Sean ConnerySean Connery, the Scotsman who was the first — and, some say, the best — James Bond had to fight back tears several times Thursday evening as he was feted as the recipient of the 34th annual American Film Institute Life Achievement Award. Almost everyone paying homage to Connery - Mike Myers, Tippi Hedren, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Harrison Ford, Andy Garcia, Craig Ferguson, “Deadwood’s” Ian McShane and Eddie Izzard - did their best (and often worst) Connery accent. Welsh singer Tom Jones sang the theme from “Thunderball” while mini-skirted dancers in white go-go boots Frugged, Twisted and Watusied around the stage. And clips of Connery in his many films – from “Marnie,” “Robin and Marian,” “The Name of the Rose,” “The Man Who Would Be King,” and all his Bond films to his Oscar-winning role in The Untouchables” - were shown throughout the evening. Finally, kilted Scots musicians played the bagpipes while Connery made the long walk through the wildly applauding audience to accept his award.He even danced a little jig to the music onstage.

“When I first heard about this I had no idea it was such a big deal,” Connery began. “But then I saw the list of people who have received it in the past and I began to get nervous, although not as nervous as I am at this moment.”

Visibly moved and yes, even misty-eyed, Connery continued: “I’m very happy to be here and happy that you are all here too. I’m more than pleased you liked my work. I must admit it looked pretty good from where I was sitting.”

Looked pretty good from where we were sitting too, Sir Sean. The show will be broadcast on June 21st:

AFI LIFE ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: A TRIBUTE TO SEAN CONNERY June 21 @ 9:00 pm USA NETWORK LA Times (photograph: Tom and Harrison Ford having a chat at the after show party for the AFI Life Achievement Award: Tribute to Sean Connery)