On Saturday, Sean Connery's passing left fans mourning — not just for the actor but for his indelible mark left throughout pop culture. For many, that included the Saturday Night Live sketch "Celebrity Jeopardy!," where a parody Connery was portrayed by Darrel Hammond. As fans celebrated Connery on Saturday, these classic sketches were soon trending.
Connery passed away in his sleep on Friday night, his son Jason Connery told the BBC. Connery was 90 and reportedly died in his sleep in Nassau, Bahamas, where he has spent much of his retirement. As fans wrestled with the loss, many called to mind Hammond's impression of Connery, which left no doubt of his cultural impact.
"Celebrity Jeopardy!" was a popular sketch that SNL did from 1996 to 2002 — the years when Will Ferrell was a main cast member. He played host Alex Trebek, doing a subdued impression of him as the straight man while the "guests" got the punchlines. This setup almost always included Hammond as Connery, who would make crass comments and insult Trebek at every turn.
There were 12 installments of "Celebrity Jeopardy!" in that initial run, and three revivals later on — one in 2005, one in 2009 and one in 2015. The last was a part of the SNL 40th Anniversary Special, and Hammond got rousing applause for his impression of Connery.
Ironically, Hammond was never meant to become so central to the "Celebrity Jeopardy!" sketches. In a 2007 SNL special, Norm MacDonald admitted that he mostly created the series as an excuse to do his Burt Reynolds impersonation. However, Hammond's impersonation became so popular that it took the spotlight, and Hammond acknowledged that it became more absurd over time. He said he found this "bastardization" of the character more entertaining than an honest impression would have been.
While other stars, including Trebek and Reynolds, publicly endorsed the sketches, Connery never publicly commented on it. The iconic actor retired from acting in the early 2000s, citing frustration with the entertainment industry and the commercial failure of his last movie, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. In that time, Connery reportedly turned down roles like Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings and The Architect in The Matrix trilogy, among others.
Connery spent his retirement traveling and relaxing at his home in the Bahamas. He is survived by his son Jason, his brother Neil and his second wife, Micheline Roquebrune.