Thomas Sean Connery was born in Fountainbridge, Edinburgh, Scotland on August 25, 1930 to Joseph and Euphamia Connery. His early life was tough, and his parent were poor, so the young Connery dropped out of school at the age of 13 to help support his family. He learned furniture polishing at a British Legion training school, and ended up working as a coffin-polisher, then a labourer, a steel bender, and cement mixer
Seeking some direction in his life, Connery joined the Royal Navy the tender age of 16. His Naval career didn't last long and he was invalided out with severe stomach ulcers three years later. leaving him with two tattoos on his right arm, 'Mum & Dad' and 'Scotland Forever' and no job. He drifted between work for the next few years, working as a milkman, a bricklayer, a lifeguard and a nude model before his passion for weightlifting saw him become Scotland’s entry in the 1950/53 (depending on your sources) Mr. Universe competition, in which he came third in the Tall Men’s division. Apparently a fellow competitor mentioned that he might want to try out for a role in the chorus of South Pacific, which he got, and the £20 a week pay packet, which Connery regarded as 'easy money'. The intensive dancing, singing, and reading lessons stood him in good stead for his future acting career and minor parts in TV programmes and films followed, and he made his film debut in 'Lilacs in the Spring'. Things were ticking over nicely, with Connery marrying his first wife, fellow actress Diane Cilento in 1962, and having a son Jason Connery a year later.
The Bond Years
Connery's big break came after his appearance in Disney's Darby O'Gill and the Little People in 1959, when he was spotted by Harry Saltzmans wife, Dana. Saltzman was looking for an actor to take the role of Ian Flemings character James Bond, and on his wife’s' recommendation invited him for a screen test, which culminated in him being cast as James Bond in the first of the Bond series, Dr. No. Bond was a smash hit, and Connery continued in the role of 007 for the next 5 films (From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice) essentially making the role his own. This, ultimately, was the problem as far as Connery was concerned. Typecast as Bond, but lacking any real creative control over the series he claimed he felt trapped, and ended up quitting the role, which was taken over by George Lazenby.
After only one film, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, United Artists persuaded Connery to return to the role of 007 in Diamonds are Forever, a decision no doubt heavily influenced by the 1.25 million dollar fee. Afterwards, he said he was finished with Bond, and that he was 'retiring' to spend more time with his family and playing golf. This intention didn't last long however, and Connery continued acting, playing a wide variety of roles from the sci-fi Zardoz to the Agatha Christie-esque whodunit Murder on the Orient Express in an attempt to shrug off the 'Bond' moniker.
Connery's marriage to Cilento broke down in 1974 and a year later he married the French painter, Micheline Roquebrune. His filmmaking continued with him appearing in The Wind and the Lion, Robin and Marian , Cuba , and Outland. By the end of this run of work he had succeeded in shaking off Bond, but then oddly reprised the role in 1983, after being persuaded by Kevin McClory to appear in the utterly awful remake of Thunderball, Never say Never Again.
Connery's popularity seems to have grown and grown the older he gets. He was named as the 'Sexiest Man Alive' by People Magazine in 1989 at the age of 60, and the standard of his work seems to get better. he won his first Oscar as Best Supporting Actor in 1987 for his portrayal of a tough-as-nails Prohibition-era Irish cop, Jim Malone. Roles such as Captain Remius in The Hunt for Red October, and John Mason in The Rock have done his careers no disservice at all.
Much of his time these days is spent supporting the Scottish National Theatre, which receives a hefty chunk of his appearance fees, and promoting Scottish Nationalism, despite spending most of his time in Marbella, Spain,
Editor's note: Sean Connery died in his sleep on Saturday, October 31, 2020, at the age of 90.
- In all of his roles as James Bond, Connery wears a wig, as he started losing his hair at the age of 21
- Most of his fee for Diamonds are Forever, was donated to his Scottish Education Charity.
- He plays every role with his strong Scottish accent. Even the Russian submarine commander in The Hunt for Red October.