Sean Connery Biography

Born: August 25, 1930
Edinburgh, Scotland

Scottish actor

From humble beginnings as a school dropout, Sean Connery became a major movie star at the age of thirty-two, when he was cast as the sophisticated secret agent James Bond. Connery went on to distinguish himself in a number of major motion pictures, including his Oscar-winning performance in The Untouchables. With more than sixty movies to his credit, Connery has become one of the world's most prominent movie stars.

A Depression-era childhood

Thomas Sean Connery, born on August 25, 1930, began his life in the humblest of surroundings. He was the eldest of two sons born in Edinburgh, Scotland, to Joseph and Euphamia Connery. His family was so poor that young Thomas had to sleep in the bottom drawer of his parents' dresser. He started working to help support the family at age nine, delivering milk and assisting a butcher. He left school at age thirteen. Connery joined the British Royal Navy in 1946, but received a medical discharge three years later.

In 1953 Connery won third place in the Mr. Universe competition (a contest measuring strength). He also heard about auditions for the musical South Pacific. He decided he wanted to try out, took a course in dancing and singing, and was cast for a role in the chorus.

Becoming an actor

At the time Connery was undecided between becoming an actor and becoming a professional soccer player. He eventually decided to take the advice of actor Robert Henderson, who encouraged him to pursue acting. After South Pacific, Connery got his first television role in Requiem for a Heavyweight. He received critical acclaim for this role, and went on to make a series of B (inexpensively made) movies from 1955 to 1962. During this time Connery met Terence Young, who was to be the director of the James Bond films.

"Bond, James Bond"

Connery was still doing B movies when he was asked to interview for Dr. No, the first James Bond film. Producer Harry Saltzman felt that he had the masculinity the part required because he punctuated his words with physical movement. Connery was signed without a screen test (a short film scene to audition actors for a movie role). Dr. No was an instant success, propelling the little-known Connery into fame virtually overnight. The serious-minded and very private Connery did not like this sudden attention.

In 1962 Connery married actress Diane Cilento. The couple divorced in 1974 and their only son, Jason, is now a movie actor. Connery married Micheline Roquebrune in 1975.

Between 1962 and 1967 Connery made five James Bond movies ( Dr. No, From Russia with Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball, and You Only Live Twice ). He became tired of the constant publicity and invasion of privacy that came with being a movie star. He also argued with Albert Broccoli, the producer of the Bond movies. Connery wanted to slow the pace of the series and complete a feature every eighteen months instead of each year. But the nation was Bond-crazy and the films were a gold mine. Connery agreed to star in Diamonds Are Forever in 1971, demanding a salary of $1.25 million, plus a percentage. At that time it was an unprecedented sum of money for such a role. After completing the film, Connery said "never again" to Bond roles and donated all of his salary to the Scottish International Education Trust, an organization he had founded to assist young Scots in obtaining an education.

Life after Bond

After the Bond films Connery focused on movie roles he found interesting. He would also do films if he felt his help was needed.

Sean Connery. Reproduced by permission of AP/Wide World Photos.
Sean Connery.
Reproduced by permission of
AP/Wide World Photos
With a few exceptions, however, most of the films Connery did in the decade following Diamonds Are Forever were not noteworthy.

In the early 1980s Connery was asked to reprise the James Bond role he had made famous, starring in Never Say Never Again. Connery again drew rave reviews as an aging Bond trying to get back in shape for a daring mission.

Roles increased with age

After Never Say Never Again Connery began acting in more films. He went on to win an Academy Award in 1988 for his supporting role of Malone in The Untouchables. Connery continues to prove his versatility and maturity as an actor. More recent films include The Name of the Rose (1986), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), The Hunt for Red October (1990), Rising Sun (1993), Just Cause (1995), First Knight (1995), The Rock (1996), and Finding Forrester (2000).

In 1998 Connery received the Fellowship Award, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts highest honor. In 1999 U.S. president Bill Clinton honored Connery at the Kennedy Center Honors program. The program recognizes the nation's outstanding performers from the world of the arts. On July 5, 2000, Queen Elizabeth II (1926–) knighted Connery. On January 11–12, 2001, Connery won the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Palm Springs International Film Festival.

For More Information

Callan, Michael Feeney. Sean Connery. New York: Stein and Day, 1983.

Katz, Ephraim. The Film Encyclopedia. 4th ed. New York: HarperResource, 2001.

McCabe, Bob. Sean Connery: A Biography. New York: Thunder's Mouth Press, 2000.

Yule, Andrew. Sean Connery: From 007 to Hollywood Icon. New York: D. I. Fine, 1992.

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