During the 1970s, Marbellawas rapidly emerging from its former incarnation as a traditional fishing village and starting to attract a veritable crème de la crème of visiting celebrities seeking a discreet holiday destination. Like today’s tourists, they were lured by the superb Mediterranean climate, the enticing beaches, and the opportunity of enjoying an al fresco lunch in Marbella’s enchanting old town. Many film stars, aristocrats, business moguls and international politicians – including Audrey Hepburn, Ava Gardner, Kim Novak, James Stewart, Henry Ford and Aristotle Onassis – found their ideal haven within the ultra-luxurious setting of the iconic Marbella Club. Others decided to make Marbella their home on a more permanent basis – and one of them was Sean Connery.

Sean Connery had just married his second wife, Micheline, and together they created a majestic frontline beach home near Puerto Banús (now converted into a luxury apartment complex) – conveniently close to the other love of his life: golf. The Scottish-born actor (who played James Bond in seven films from 1962 to 1983) soon found several other celebrity golfing buddies on Marbella’s fairways, and they formed the Los Bandidos golf society. Before moving on from Marbella a decade later, Connery was a regular guest at many soirées and events in Marbella, including one particularly memorable participation in a charity summer golf tournament at Río Real. Our own correspondent recalls heading out onto the course with Connery, together with a mini-gallery of eager onlookers and paparazzi. 

Today, in a new, more connected world of mobile phone cameras and social networking, celebrities tend to be fairly guarded during their public appearances, but in the mid-1980s they were much more accessible and approachable. On this occasion, Río Real – at the time one of Marbella’s focal points of high society and already two decades old – provided the perfect surroundings for golf fans to wander along the verdant tree-lined fairways almost shoulder-to-shoulder with a Hollywood superstar. Incidentally, the James Bond link with Marbella has extended beyond Connery’s sojourn on the Costa del Sol: Roger Moore is another global celebrity who partied at the Marbella Club; and Pierce Brosnan has also been spotted holidaying in the area more recently. 

Image by Mieremet, Rob / Anefo [CC BY-SA 3.0 nl (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/nl/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons