Screen legend Sir Sean Connery is ‘no longer in control of his senses’, according to close friend Michael Caine.
Former James Bond star Sir Sean, who turned 83 at the weekend, was reported to be suffering from memory loss which makes his wife anxious when he goes out alone.
German newspaper Bild am sonntag quoted Caine as saying: ‘One must have serious concerns for him.’
But a publicist for the actor, who formally retired from public life two years ago, said the story was ‘silly nonsense’ and claimed Caine had been misquoted.
Under the headline ‘Connery forgets his life’, Bild reported that the loss of Sir Sean’s memory is ‘noticeable’.
Only a few close friends and confidantes, including Caine, had access to him, the newspaper said.
It quoted Caine as saying that Sir Sean was ‘no longer in control of his senses’ and the story sparked a frenzy of internet stories in Germany which suggested he was suffering Alzheimer’s.
This was dismissed as ‘ridiculous’ by Connery’s spokesman.
Bild claimed his wife Micheline Roquebrune, 77, was frightened to pick up the phone when he was out on the streets of Manhattan in case it was bad news.
The actor last appeared before the cameras in 2003 for ‘The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen’.
In April 2011 his publicist announced he would not make any future public appearances.
However, last September he appeared in a jovial mood as he and Sir Alex Ferguson shocked Scottish tennis star Andy Murray by gate-crashing his post-match press conference following his win in the semi-final of the US Open.
Sir Sean was also in the crowd to watch his subsequent victory in the final.
He also took to the trading floor to ring the bell at the New York Stock Exchange last May.
The actor was last spotted in public in April this year when he was pictured strolling unnoticed by passers-by through the streets of Manhattan in a casual ensemble.
His face all but hidden by a flat cap, the bearded actor wore a National Geographic fleece, navy polo neck and dark tracksuit.
In 2010, fears grew for Sir Sean’s wellbeing when he cited undisclosed health reasons for missing a court hearing in Spain.
He was one of 20 people called to give evidence over the sale of a villa that was subsequently demolished to make way for flats valued at £45million.
But his brother, Neil, denounced the latest reports about his health as ‘complete rubbish.’
He said: ‘I spoke to him three days ago and he was completely fine. He was just off to play golf.
‘There was no indication of anything wrong with him at all.
‘I don’t know where this has come from.’ Sir Sean appeared in seven Bond films and went on to win an Oscar for his role in The Untouchables.
He was voted Sexiest Man of the 20th Century at the age of 69.
A prominent supporter of Scottish independence, the actor was knighted by the Queen in 2000.
He and Caine became friends during the shooting of the 1975 epic ‘The Man Who Would Be King.’ The actor has suffered health problems from an early age.
A duodenal ulcer cut short his career in the military at just 19 – though he was famously in the Royal Navy long enough to have a ‘Scotland Forever’ tattoo.
After leaving, he had a variety of jobs, including a life guard, a lorry driver, a coffin polisher and an artist’s model.
Caine’s publicist could not be contacted last night.