THE former wife of Sir Sean Connery claims in her new autobiography that the James Bond star beat her up during their marriage.
Diane Cilento, who was married to Connery from 1962 to 1973, said he physically and mentally abused her in jealous rages. She describes his resentment at her own success and claims he "wasn't able to cope" with the fame brought by the Bond films.
Cilento blames their contrasting social backgrounds for the clashes that led to the breakdown of their marriage. Connery was born in an Edinburgh tenement and had a poor upbringing, while she is the daughter of two wealthy Australian doctors.
Speaking from her home in Queensland, she said: "There was physical contact, but it is important to see it in context. You have got to remember he was probably twice my weight."
Connery has always strongly denied hitting his former wife but speculation about his rough treatment has been rife for years after comments he made in magazine interviews. In 1965 he told Playboy: "I don't think there is anything particularly wrong in hitting a woman, though I don't recommend you do it the same way that you hit a man."
And in Vanity Fair in 1993 he said: "There are women who take it to the wire. That's what they are looking for, the ultimate confrontation. They want a smack." The 74-year-old screen legend has since said that the remarks were taken out of context.
Robert Sessions, Ms Cilento's editor, said the book would make uncomfortable reading for Connery. He said: "Sean was a bully."