Diane Cilento, Sean Connery’s First Wife: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Diane Cilento Sean Connery First Wife

Getty Scottish actor Sean Connery and his then-wife, actress Diane Cilento arrive at the Royal Film Performance of 'Lord Jim' at the Odeon Theatre, London, 15th February 1965. The film was screened in aid of the Cinema and Television Benevolent Fund.

Diane Cilento was the first wife of James Bond actor Sean Connery.

Connery’s death was announced by his family on October 31, 2020 to BBC News. The family stated that the Oscar-winning icon died in his sleep at his home in the Bahamas.

Connery and Cilento were married from 1962 – 1973. Like Connery, Cilento was an actor. In fact, the two met while appearing together in Eugene O’Neill’s play Anna Christie, according to Female First.

Following their divorce the two were on rocky terms, even decades after their marriage ended, as reported by the Evening Standard.

Cilento grew up in a wealthy household as her parents, Sir Raphael and Lady Phyllis Cilento, were both physicians, according to The Guardian.

Read on for our facts on Cilento and her marriage to Connery.

1. Cilento Accused Connery of Being Violent with Her

Sean Connery First Wife

GettyScottish actor Sean Connery visits his wife, actress Diane Cilento while she films scenes for her latest movie ‘Rattle of a Simple Man’ at the Associated British Studios at Elstree, UK, 1964.

The Scotsman reported in 2005 that Cilento said Connery had been violent towards her during their marriage. Cilento claimed, “There was physical contact, but it is important to see it in context. You have got to remember he was probably twice my weight.”

In Cilento’s autobiography, she claimed ex-husband Connery was a “bully”, according to The Irish Examiner.

Connery denied the claims that he was physically violent to Cilento.

In an interview with Playboy in November 1965, as reported by Yahoo, Connery said, “I don’t think there is anything particularly wrong about hitting a woman–although I don’t recommend doing it in the same way that you’d hit a man. An openhanded slap is justified–if all other alternatives fail and there has been plenty of warning. If a woman is a bitch, or hysterical, or bloody-minded continually, then I’d do it.”

2. The Couple Had 1 Child Together

Diane Cilento Son Jason Connery

GettyAustralian actress Diane Cilento pictured with her son Jason, from her marriage to Sean Connery, at London Airport on 15th June 1964.

Connery and Cilento had one child together, a son named Jason. He was born on January 11, 1963. Jason followed in the footsteps of his parents as an actor and director.

Jason Connery actually portrayed James Bond creator Ian Fleming in a TV drama called Spymaker: The Secret Life of Ian Fleming.

In 2008, Connery responded to claims from Cilento that he was snubbing their son in his will. Connery told the Evening Standard, “I haven’t seen the woman in 37 years and she knows nothing about me or my life now. Diane can’t move on from the break-up of our marriage and I have already had to contend with her accusations about me being violent towards her. Now the lies seem to be getting even more vicious and, what is worse, she is dragging our son into it.”

Jason Connery was married to actress Mia Sara from 1996 to 2002 and the couple had a son together named Dashiell Quinn Connery a year after tying the knot. Most know Mia Sara from her role as Ferris Bueller’s girlfriend Sloane Peterson in the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. The actress is now married to Brian Henson, the son of famous puppeteer Jim Henson.

3. Cilento Had a Daughter from a Previous Marriage

Diane Cilento Daughter

GettyHere, Australian actress Diane Cilento arrives at London Airport with her baby daughter Giovanna Volpe, 15th February 1958.

When Cilento married Connery, she already had a daughter, Giovanna, from her previous marriage to Andrea Volpe. She and Volpe were married from 1956 to 1960.

The Guardian reported that Volpe was an Italian aristocrat. He was one of Cilento’s three husbands.

Cilento went on to marry Connery following her marriage to Volpe.

4. Her Third Husband Was a Famous Playwright

Diane Cilento

GettyAustralian actress Diane Cilento pictured seated in a Go-kart on 26th June 1973.

Cilento appeared in Anthony Shaffer’s The Wicker Man in 1973, according to The Guardian, but the two didn’t get married until over a decade later.

Shaffer and Cilento married in 1985 and remained married until Shaffer’s death in 2001. Prior to marrying Cilento, the Tony-winning playwright was married to Henrietta Glaskie and then Carolyn Soley. With Soley, he had two children – daughters Claudia and Cressida.

In their marriage, Cilento and Shaffer built their home, which they called The Castle, and The Karnak Playhouse theater.

A woman named Marie Josette “JoJo” Capece-Minutolo was reported to have been having an affair with Shaffer prior to his death, according to JoJoCapece.com. The website stated, “For years news reports circulated on the internet regarding the relationship of Marie Josette “Jojo” Capece Minutolo and Anthony Shaffer. Anthony Shaffer, separated from his Australian wife, Diane Cilento, was in divorce negotiations and died days before the settlement was finalized. Capece was his fiancé who lived with him in London for several years. He died from a massive heart attack in her arms at the home they shared unable to be resuscitated by ambulance crews or upon arrival at Chelsea Westminster Hospital.”

Telegraph reported that Capece-Minutolo entered a battle over her late lover’s estate. According to the Evening Standard, Shaffer’s mistress Capece-Minutolo ended up empty-handed.

5. The Actress Died in 2011

Diane Cilento

GettyAustralian actress Diane Cilento in an Edwardian costume for the film ‘The Truth About Women’ at Shepperton Studios, UK, May 1957.

The NY Times reported that Cilento died at 78 on October 6, 2011. The actress’ obituary in The Guardian revealed her cause of death to be cancer.

IMDb reported that Cilento passed away in Cairns, Queensland, Australia. She died at Cairns Base Hospital.

Daily Mail reported Queensland state Premier Anna Bligh confirmed Cilento’s death. Bligh stated, “While she was originally known as a glamorous international film star, her work in later years in the far north showed her commitment to the arts. I offer my sincere condolences to her family, friends and all those who enjoyed her important contribution to the arts here in Queensland. I know that Ms Cilento will be sorely missed by many in the industry.”

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Jake May
Jake May
1 year ago

It could be that Cilento was inventing tall tales that Connery hit her.
However, another women in Connery’s life said the same thing. She was girlfriend of James Coburn. Connery was married but pursued her. She wasn’t interested at first. He wasn’t her type. But eventually, she swooned. Or not.
He hit her once and she put her foot firmly down. Never again, or she was off.