Sean Connery's terminally ill James Bond co-star shot himself before his 007 movie wrapped

After the success of Dr No,  Sean Connery immediately returned for his second James Bond outing in 1963’s From Russia with Love, which is on ITV this afternoon. The Scottish star’s co-star was Pedro Armendáriz, who played Ali Kerim Bey, the head of MI6 Station T in Istanbul. Sadly, the Mexican actor, who has a substantial role in the movie, would be dead before the shoot even wrapped.

In 1956, Pedro had a part in John Wayne’s Genghis Khan flop, The Conqueror, which was filming in Utah while the US government was conducting atmospheric nuclear testing one state over in Nevada.

Tragically, within 25 years of the production, 91 out of the 220 working on the movie developed cancer, 46 of whom died from it. A few years later, the Mexican actor developed neck cancer at the UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, which was diagnosed as inoperable.

Nevertheless, Pedro was determined to get as much of his role in From Russia with Love completed as soon as possible despite his pain, to provide financial security for his wife.

From Russia with Love’s Istanbul shoot was soon shut down and moved to Britain, with Pedro’s scenes moved forward so he could complete as much as possible while physically still able to.

When it got to the point that he could no longer work, he had a stunt double and even director Terence Young standing in for him in the last two months of production.

Unable to carry on and with just weeks of his life remaining, the Bond actor headed to a hospital near his home.

There, Pedro Armendáriz smuggled in a gun and died by suicide on June 18, 1963 at the age of 51.

READ MORE: Monty Norman dead: Man behind James Bond theme rift dies

Interestingly, Pedro Armendáriz Jr ended up playing President Hector Lopez in Timothy Dalton’s second Bond movie, 1989’s Licence to Kill. He went on to feature in blockbusters like Amistad, The Mask of Zorro and Once Upon a Time in Mexico.

Sadly, he too was diagnosed with cancer in November 2011 and died a month later at the age of 71. He is buried by his father at Panteón Jardin in Mexico City.

For confidential support call the Samaritans in the UK on 116 123 or visit a local Samaritans branch.


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