Fake 007 fooled many in Greenport

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09/30/2010 12:00 AM |

Sean Connery impersonator Dennis Keogh marches down Main Street  during Saturday’s Greenport Maritime Festival parade.
See photos from the Martime Festival by clicking the Slide Show button below.

He had the beard, the kilt and a wee bit of a Scots burr, but the man who wowed the crowds during last weekend’s Greenport Maritime Festival was without doubt not the Sean Connery of James Bond fame.

Dennis Keogh of Phoenix is a professional Sean Connery impersonator hired by parade organizers. His job was to portray the film star — arguably the world’s best known living Scot — in Saturday’s parade, which boasted more bagpipe bands than some local St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.

But with newspaper advertisements, flags carried by NJROTC cadets and the pennants flying over the yacht chartered by parade organizer Roy Morrow all carrying the “007” logo, many festival attendees believed they saw and had their pictures taken with the Hollywood legend.

The real Mr. Connery’s publicist, Nancy Seltzer of Los Angeles, confirmed that the actor was out of the country this past weekend.

Mr. Keogh said his intent is to have fun with the role, not convince people that he’s the genuine article, although that is how he was sometimes introduced around the village.

“I put my heart and soul into the impersonation, but I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to deceive anyone,” Mr. Keogh, a former telephone lineman who’s been playing the James Bond character for 20 years, the last five professionally, said in an interview with The Suffolk Times.

“To those ladies who were hugging me and taking photographs, I’m sorry. But get a reality check. He’s 80 years old, I’m 60. He’s two inches taller, 20 years older and a hell of a lot better looking.”

The illusion was good enough to fool some members of the Southold Police Department.

“I had cops saying he [Sean Connery] was out and about Friday,” said Chief Ty Cochran. “But they’re young and probably didn’t know what he really looked like. Once you start investigating, you could tell it wasn’t really him.”

The imitation Sean Connery made his first public appearance at the East End Seaport Museum’s cocktail reception Friday night. He sported a rented kilt outfit when leading the parade down Main and Front Streets Saturday morning.

“I’m hired as an impersonator,” said Mr. Keogh. “When they introduce me as Sean Connery, it upsets me no end. If someone asks me who I am, I usually say I’m 007 or James Bond because they’re fictional characters.”

Once he gets into the role, he’s reluctant to break character.

“Would you want thousands of people who think you’re the guy to suddenly know you weren’t?” he said. His time in Greenport was unique in that he’d never before been called on to carry the Connery/Bond persona for three straight days.

“I must have had my picture taken by 20,000 people,” said Mr. Keogh.

That group includes Father Tom Murray, pastor of St. Agnes Church in Greenport.

“I’m not a religious man, but I know you don’t lie to a priest,” Greenport Mayor David Nyce quipped.

Still, the mayor believes the deception was carried out in good fun.

“I didn’t catch that people were angry,” he said. “People were asking me to confirm or deny. I said as near as I can determine, it’s a look-alike.”

In fact the village is very appreciative of Mr. Morrow’s generosity in paying for the parade and fireworks and honored him during Monday’s Village Board meeting.

As far as the police are concerned, there’s no reason to call in Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

“Just wandering around pretending to be someone? I don’t think there’s anything criminal there,” the chief said. “But I’ve heard both sides. Some people thought it was funny, others said it’s not right. If the only reason you came to the Maritime Festival was to see Sean Connery, you were cheated.”

Mr. Keogh said he most regrets the reaction he received from two members of the city police department’s Gaelic Football Club, who came out with the department’s pipes and drums. The two officers were seeking support for “Ground Zero 360,” an exhibit of 9/11 photos opening for next year’s 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks.

“They thought I was Sean Connery and presented me with a jersey carrying the number 23,” he said. That’s the number of NYPD officers lost on 9/11. “I gave them back the shirt and told them the truth.”

He said he’s glad the officers were not offended.

Mr. Keogh, who grew up in Philadelphia, said being a Sean Connery impersonator was in his genes.

“I have five brothers and at one point in their lives they all looked like Sean Connery,” he said.

Trying to see the bright side of his time on the North Fork, Mr. Keogh said the people he met, whether they knew his true identity or not, couldn’t have been nicer.

“I’m just hired to play a role,” he said. “I’m an actor. If you think about it, I must have been pretty good because I convinced thousands of people.”

Supervisor Scott Russell, who marched behind “Sir Sean” in Saturday’s parade, said he’d heard rumors for the past several years that Sean Connery would appear at the festival.

“I had no reason to think he would be in Greenport,” said the supervisor. “Anyway, I’m of the generation that had Roger Moore as James Bond. There’s no way he could have a lookalike because they don’t make men that pretty.”

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