On the day Oscar winner Kevin Spacey was cleared of sex assaults in London, it's time to look back at the actor's strong connection to the Three Towns.

Spacey, who turned 64 today, has visited both Ardrossan and Saltcoats on numerous occasions over the years.

The American Beauty and House of Cards star's brother-in-law Ian Keir came from Saltcoats - and played football for junior team Kilwinning Rangers.

And Spacey, whose career disintegrated after accusations of sexual assault in the US in 2017, was a fairly frequent visitor to the area.

Today, the actor said he was "humbled" after being cleared of sexual assault charges against four men at London's Southwark Court.

The former director of London's Old Vic Theatre, from 2004 to 2015, is believed to have savoured the absence of prying cameras when, on occasion, he visited his 'secret' family in Scotland.

In the early 2000s, he revealed his older sister Julie Ann had married a "beaten-up" Scottish footballer.

On a publicity tour for his film The Shipping News, Spacey told reporters: "My sister was on a ferry from Germany and on the same ferry there was a soccer team that had just lost a game. She met this beaten-up guy and they made it to the altar together."

At the time, former airport worker Ian's mum Margaret, who lived in an Ardrossan council house, told reporters that famous son-in-law had been a closely-guarded secret.

She said her son Ian married Julie Ann in Saltcoats Register Office on December 1, 1972, and celebrated with Margaret and other family in a local pub.

She added: "It's not something anyone would believe around here until you bring out the photograph albums.

"But my grandchildren love being able to say Kevin Spacey is their uncle." 

Margaret added: "Kevin is a lovely man and Ian is always saying how much he loves Ayrshire.

"He used to come over a lot when he was younger but he hasn't been for a few years because he's so busy.

"But we're expecting him this summer, so I'm sure that will be a good party.

"The youngsters in the family love it. But most of my friends don't even know who Kevin Spacey is."

Ian and Julie Ann emigrated to America in the 1990s.