The attendees at Susan Hendrick's Colonial Life Insurance’s district awards luncheon at Paradise Valley's Camelback Golf Club on January 20, 2014, were taken aback when a dashing gentleman in a tuxedo greeted them at the door, extended his hand and said, “Welcome. My name is Bond…James Bond.” People are used to seeing “Elvis” in Vegas or attending “legend” shows at venues like Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale. But they seldom get an opportunity to see characters up close. Dennis Keogh has been giving people a chance to meet one of movies’ most beloved characters for years.
Keogh, a Philadelphia native, did not expect to become an actor. After four years in the military, he had a 30-year career with the old Bell System. He retired from Bell here in Phoenix in 1972. But friends and family, and eventually strangers, were always telling him he looked just like Sean Connery. So he ventured to Las Vegas to appear at an annual look-alike convention and found his true calling at age 53.
Like most US baby boomers, he saw Goldfinger as a kid in 1964. At age 14, his Boy Scout troop leader took them to the movie to stay warm during a frigid Boy Scout Jamboree in Valley Forge. But it took years of studying Connery’s films, life, accent and mannerism to achieve success. Connery’s vice changed, as he got older, and Keogh has adapted; he portrays the actor at age 60.
“One of my favorite quotes,” Keogh says, “Is ‘The will to win is nothing without the will to prepare.’”
Keogh loves his job and the people he entertains. Just as he did at the Colonial Life event, Keogh chats and takes photos with all fans. He does commercials, ads, and is paid to travel around the world to appear at special events, usually 40-50 gigs a year. For example, he will be at an event honoring the Scottish poet Robert Burns. But Arizona is a great market for him (e.g., he will be at the Waste Management Phoenix Open this week) and keeps him close to his daughter and grandsons in Tucson.
“I have never refused anyone. I believe we have a responsibility to increase the joy in the world,” says Keogh. “I impersonate an icon, and, with that, comes a certain responsibility to be professional and treat people with respect.” Maybe Justin Bieber and some other celebrities could learn something from 007.