Family & Companions
Connery's one attempt at directing, the 1969 documentary "The Bowler and the Bonnet", has never been officially released.
He represented Scotland in the 1950 Mr Universe competition.
Though he was already established as an actor on the rise, Sean Connery blasted into international stardom when he surpassed several other name actors to become James Bond for the first installment of the decades-long spy franchise, "Dr. No" (1962). Suave and debonair, but also deadly, Connery exuded charm and appeal as MI6 agent 007, which helped make "Dr. No" a giant box office hit in both its native England and the United States. He reprised the role a total of seven times in three different decades, including the models for all other Bond films to follow, "From Russia with Love" (1963) and "Goldfinger" (1964). Though he bowed out of the role in 1967 following "You Only Live Twice," he returned for a big payday with "Diamonds Are Forever" (1971), after which he famously vowed never to play the role again. While he appeared in numerous films in the ensuing years - "Murder on the Orient Express" (1974), "A Bridge Too Far" (1977) and "Time Bandits" (1981) chief among them - Connery had trouble reaching the heights of success he enjoyed as Bond. Going back on his word, he reprised the role one last time for the unofficial Bond movie, "Never Say Never Again" (1983), which was, as usual, a giant box office hit. Connery was primed to take his career to the next level, which he did when he won an Academy Award for his role as a gruff old Irish cop in "The Untouchables" (1987). He followed with a memorable performance as the senior Dr. Henry Jones in "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" (1989) while turning in a fine performance as a defecting Russian submarine commander in "The Hunt for Red October" (1990). Though retired following a string of lesser efforts in the 1990s and into the next century, Connery left behind a career of performances that were surprising in both their variety and subtlety, which only assured his place in cinema history as one of its finest and most publicly beloved actors.
Born on Aug. 25, 1930 in Edinburgh, Scotland, Connery was raised in a working class home by his father, Joseph, a factory worker and truck driver, and his mother, Euphamia, a housekeeper. When he was 13 years old, Connery began working as a milkman for St. Cuthbert's Co-operative Society, making deliveries in the morning before going to school. In 1946, he joined the Royal Navy for a 12-year stint, but was forced to leave three years later due to problems with stomach ulcers. After returning to the co-op to deliver milk, he found odd jobs as a lorry driver, laborer, artist's model and coffin polisher. In order to pick up some extra money, Connery began helping out backstage at the King's Theatre in 1951, which soon led to an interest in becoming an actor. That year, he made his debut in the chorus of a London production of "South Pacific" (1951), after which he attempted to become a professional bodybuilder, allegedly placing third in a junior competition for Mr. Universe. Also a solid footballer, Connery was offered a contract to play with Manchester United, but declined in favor of acting. He later reflected that the decision was one of his "more intelligent moves."
Now firmly committed to becoming an actor, Connery moved away from the stage to begin appearing on the screen. Following a small role in the television movie "Lilacs in the Spring" (1954), he received good notices for his leading performance in Rod Sterling's "Requiem for a Heavyweight" (BBC, 1956). Also that year, Connery made his feature debut as a seedy lowlife in "No Road Back" (1956), a crime drama about a blind and deaf nightclub owner (Margaret Rawlings) who finances her son's medical school education by fencing diamonds for a gang of thieves. He earned a bit of a reputation on his next film, "Another Time, Another Place" (1958), which starred Lana Turner as an American war correspondent whose whirlwind romance with a British journalist (Connery) ends in tragedy. While filming the movie, Connery and Turner were captured by photographers going together about town, with the press alluding to a potential real-life love affair. The photos incurred the wrath of Turner's violent mob boyfriend, Johnny Stompanato, who boarded a plane to England and threatened Turner's life. He later arrived on set waving a gun at Connery, warning him to stay away from the actress. Taking no guff from the mobster, Connery wrestled the gun out of Stompanato's hand and knocked him out with a single right cross. The incident was cemented in Hollywood lore when several months later, Turner's 14-year-old daughter, Cheryl, famously stabbed Stompanato to death after witnessing another of his brutal beatings on her mother.
Shortly thereafter, Connery traveled across the pond to make his first film in America, the Walt Disney production of "Darby O'Gill and the Little People" (1959). After appearing in a significant supporting role for the British television adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's "Anna Karenina" (BBC, 1961), he turned to comedy for "On the Fiddle" (1961), joining Alfred Lynch as a pair of accident prone RAF members who are sent on a top secret mission during World War II. He ventured into a more serious side of the war when he joined an all-star cast for the ensemble classic, "The Longest Day" (1961), which told in epic fashion the story about the D-Day Invasion. But in one fell swoop, Connery went from mid-level player to international superstar after beating out many bigger names for the right to play James Bond in the first of many adaptations of Ian Fleming's spy novels, "Dr. No" (1962). With cool sophistication and a touch of humor, Connery transformed the violent character into a warmer personage, which turned the actor into a major 1960s icon. Unknown at the time, the success of the first Bond film helped launch one of the single longest-running franchises in cinema history, spanning several decades - well into the 21st century - and featuring over six actors playing the role. But it would be Connery who would remain the prototypical Bond for the majority of moviegoers.
With the catchphrase "Bond.James Bond" fully enshrined in the cultural lexicon, Connery followed up with his second James Bond film, "From Russia with Love" (1963), which many agreed typified what a Bond film was all about - high-tech gadgetry, femme fatales, suave humor and exhilarating action sequences. Looking back, some considered "From Russia with Love" to be one of the best Bond films ever made. Others, however, pointed to his next turn as 007, "Goldfinger" (1964), as being the best of the bunch. Full of heart-stopping action, flashy gadgets - including an Aston-Martin complete with ejector seat - and an alluring femme fatale dubiously name Pussy Galore, "Goldfinger" surpassed its predecessor to set the standard for all other Bond films to follow. In fact, the movie remained culturally relevant throughout the years, thanks in part to the perhaps the most famous line in the entire series, with Bond asking Auric Goldfinger (Gert Fröbe) while strapped to a table being cut in two by a red laser beam, "Do you expect me to talk?," and the villain responding, "No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die."
Of course, Connery managed to make other films besides Bond, though not nearly with as much success. He starred opposite Tippi Hedren in Alfred Hitchcock's last great masterwork, "Marnie" (1964), which he followed with the British-made crime thriller "Women of Straw" (1964) and Sidney Lumet's underrated war drama, "The Hill" (1965). Connery finally returned to the Bond series after a long legal battle between the writers for a fourth movie, "Thunderball" (1965), which was based on one of the best-selling novels in the series. Though well received by critics and a huge success at the box office, "Thunderball" tended to lean toward the more campy side of Bond, while some of the underwater sequences dragged on to interminable lengths. After a failed attempt to break away from his Bond image with the comedy "A Fine Madness" (1966), Connery broke out his Walther PBK for his fifth go-round as Bond in "You Only Live Twice" (1967), which remained as entertaining as the previous movies, though it marked a change from the series' espionage origins to focus more on a save-the-world-from-destruction plot that characterized later series entries.
In 1967, Connery quit the Bond series and was replaced by one-timer George Lazenby for the sixth movie, "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" (1969), which some later said could have epitomized the entire series had Connery decided to again play the role. Temporarily free from Bondage, the actor starred in the forgettable Western "Shalako" (1968) before portraying famed explorer Roald Amundsen in "The Red Tent" (1969). Following a turn as a terrorist leader battling the famed Pinkerton agents in the grim historical drama, "The Molly Maguires" (1970), Connery was enticed out of his Bond retirement with a huge payday to once again play the role in "Diamonds Are Forever" (1971). Full of the gimmickry and catchy one-liners lacking in the Lazenby effort, "Diamonds" received mediocre reviews on its way to becoming yet another big box office hit. Many critics, particularly from later generations, deemed the movie to be one of the worst and most forgettable in the series. Now divorced from Bond - at least for the next decade and a half - Connery was free to explore less heroic characters, which he did as an ex-con masterminding a large heist in Sidney Lumet's slick crime thriller "The Anderson Tapes" (1971).
In "The Offense" (1973), Connery played a police inspector who beats a suspect to death in a child molesting case, which leads to a suspension and a nervous breakdown over the fact he might have his own pederast tendencies. Following a supporting turn as Colonel Arbuthnot in the all-star ensemble "Murder on the Orient Express" (1974), he played a Scandinavian government agent sent to stop a group of terrorists from killing the passengers aboard a hijacked plane in the action thriller "Ransom" (1974). He next teamed up with fellow Brit Michael Caine for a bit of old-fashioned fun in "The Man Who Would Be King" (1975), director John Huston's throwback action adventure from Hollywood days of yore. After playing an older-looking Robin Hood opposite Audrey Hepburn in "Robin and Marian" (1976), Connery joined another all-star cast, which included Anthony Hopkins and Michael Caine, for the World War II epic, "A Bridge Too Far" (1977). Meanwhile, he maintained a steady screen presence in films like "Cuba" (1979), "The Great Train Robbery" (1979) and "Outland" (1981), though none of which seemed to offer anything more than a paycheck.
Following a crucial role as Agamemnon in Terry Gilliam's loopy "Time Bandits" (1981), Connery - who once said he would never play Bond again after "Diamonds Are Forever" - returned one last time to portray 007 in "Never Say Never Again" (1983). Though not an official Bond film, since it was not produced by EON Productions, the film was nonetheless a huge box office hit, even though there was competition from Roger Moore's "Octopussy" (1983). After leaving moviemaking for a couple of years due to the frustration of his making "Never Say Never Again," Connery made a triumphant returns with his BAFTA-nominated performance as William of Baskerville in "The Name of the Rose" (1986). He next played the immortal Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez in the surprise fantasy hit, "Highlander" (1986). Connery completed his return to top form with his next film, Brian De Palma's crime epic, "The Untouchables" (1987), in which he played Malone, a sly and crafty old Irish cop who helps a young Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner) take down Al Capone (Robert De Niro). Easily stealing the thunder from both Costner and De Niro, Connery earned widespread acclaim and his first-ever Academy Award.
With a renewed star image and an appeal to younger audiences, Connery entered into a fertile period of his career as a beloved personality. Following a misguided appearance as the proud patriarch of a criminal clan in "Family Business" (1989), he had great onscreen chemistry trading barbs as Professor Henry Jones with Harrison Ford in "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" (1989), a role that earned him supporting actor nominations at both the Golden Globes and BAFTA awards. He next earned more acclaim as the defecting commander aboard a Russian submarine in "The Hunt for Red October" (1990), a role that earned him yet another BAFTA nomination. After a high-profile cameo as King Richard the Lionhearted in Costner's "Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves" (1991), he portrayed the titular "Medicine Man" (1992), which dealt with the destruction of the Amazon basin and the suggestion that the cure for cancer was chopped away in the madness of development. "Medicine Man" marked Connery's debut as an executive producer, a chore he also performed on "Rising Sun" (1993), in which he teamed with Wesley Snipes in a police drama with international ramifications. Also that year, he reportedly underwent radiation for an undisclosed throat ailment, which sparked media rumors that he had throat cancer. Japanese and South African outlets went as far to say that he was dead. To prove he was alive and well, Connery appeared on "The Late Show with David Letterman" (CBS, 1993- ), flying in on a rigged jet pack that landed smoothly center stage.
In the middle part of the decade, Connery alternated between medieval epics, playing King Arthur in "First Knight" (1995), and voicing Draco the dragon in "Dragonheart" (1996). He switched to contemporary action dramas, playing a famous lawyer attempting to prove a man innocent of murder in "Just Cause" (1996), and a government agent with particular knowledge of Alcatraz in the box-office bonanza, "The Rock"(1996). Meanwhile, he turned villainous as a man bent on controlling the world's weather in the big screen version of "The Avengers" (1998) and lent his charm to the role of an aging cat burglar in "Entrapment" (1999) opposite a wily Catherine Zeta-Jones. In 2000, Connery earned critical kudos for his turn as a reclusive author in the vein of J.D. Salinger, who mentors a promising young writer (Rob Brown) in the small-budget drama, "Finding Forrester." The actor entered into a brief dormant period, where he turned down the role of Gandalf the Wizard in "The Lord of the Rings" (2001-03) trilogy, claiming that he failed to understand the script.
A couple of years later, Connery appeared onscreen for which many believed would be the last time. He starred in the Victorian era action adventure "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" (2003), which was based on the popular comic book series. Connery played the fictional hero Allan Quatermain - sort of a Victorian precursor to Indiana Jones - who leads a team of characters culled from popular novels of the late 19th Century, including Captain Nemo (Naseeruddin Shah), Tom Sawyer (Shane West) and Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde (Jason Flemyng). The actor reportedly clashed with director Steve Norrington, which only served to diminish the quality of the finished film. Rumors swirled that the actor was on the brink of a formal retirement from the big screen when he abruptly dropped out of 20th Century Fox's "Josiah's Canon" and walked away from a $17.5 million paycheck. But in 2005 he announced plans to reprise his role as James Bond one last time for Electronic Arts' videogame based on the 007 adventure, "From "Russia with Love." In 2006, his ex-wife, Diane Cilento, released an autobiography called My Nine Lives, which detailed several occasions in which Connery had beaten her. Faced with charges of spousal abuse, Connery vehemently denied the rumors, even though the irascible actor had been quoted in the past - as well as flat out telling Barbara Walters during one of her specials - that there was "nothing wrong with slapping a woman" if she was out of line. Following the release of his own autobiography, Being a Scot (2008), Connery remained retired, even turning down a reprisal of Dr. Henry Jones for "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" (2008).
Cast (Feature Film)
Producer (Feature Film)
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Drove a milk wagon at age 13, making deliveries before school
Joined the Royal Navy for a 12-year stint at age 16
Discharged from the Navy after three years due to ulcers
London stage debut in chorus of "South Pacific"
Participated in the Mr. Universe bodybuiding contest; placing third
Received positive notices for his lead performance in the BBC TV production of Rod Serling's "Requiem for a Heavyweight"
Film acting debut, "No Road Back"
Played first leading role when he acted as Lana Turner's leading man in the British-made "Another Time, Another Place"
First film made in America, the Walt Disney production, "Darby O'Gill and the Little People"
Breakthrough role, playing the British secret agent in the first of the James Bond series, "Dr. No"; film based on the 1958 novel by Ian Fleming
Debut as stage director, the London production of "I've Seen You Cut Lemons"
Debut as documentary filmmaker with "The Bowler and the Bonnet"
Final official appearance as 007 in "Diamonds Are Forever"; donated his $1.25 million salary to the Scottish International Education Trust Fund
Formed Tantallon Productions for the making of Sidney Lumet's "The Offense"
Made one-shot return to playing James Bond in "Never Say Never Again"
Had Oscar winning role as Jim Malone in Brian De Palma's "The Untouchables"
Starred as Professor Henry Jones, the father of Harrison Ford's titular character in "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade"
Played Captain Marko Ramius in "The Hunt for Red October"; based on the novel by Tom Clancy
First film as executive producer, "Medicine Man"; also co-starred with Lorraine Bracco
Cast as King Arthur opposite Richard Gere as Lancelot in "First Knight"
Co-starred with Nicolas Cage in "The Rock"
Won Tony Award for producing the play "Art"; production debuted on the London stage in 1996
Cast as the villain in a remake of the 1960s British cult series, "The Avengers"
Acted with Gena Rowlands in the ensemble drama "Playing By Heart"
Played a jewel thief trailed by an insurance investigator (Catherine Zeta-Jones) in "Entrapment"
Portrayed a reclusive, Pulitzer-winning author in Gus Van Sant's "Finding Forrester"
Played the lead role in the feature adaptation of "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen"; also produced
Announced he would retire from film-making
Published his autobiography, Being a Scot, which coincided with his 78th birthday
Connery's one attempt at directing, the 1969 documentary "The Bowler and the Bonnet", has never been officially released.
He represented Scotland in the 1950 Mr Universe competition.
"There are seven genuine movie stars in the world today," says Steven Spielberg, who directed him in 'Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade', "and Sean is one of them. I won't name the others, because some of my best friends wouldn't be among them." --From "All Together, Now: Sean Connery Is an Icon!" by Diane K Shah in GQ, July 1989.
"I would drink Sean Connery's bath water." --Whoopi Goldberg in a 1989 interview in Cable magazine.
"They used to say that Sean loved golf, drinking and women--in that order." --Tom Mankiewicz quoted in Daily Variety, May 5, 1997.
"The best thing about working with Sean Connery is that you go out to dinner after working for a day and you get to sing musical comedy." --director Fred Schepisi quoted in Daily Variety, May 5, 1997
"He's just one of the best actors there is, simple as that ... With Sean, in addition to brilliant talent, there is a persona that every great star has. When Sean's up there on the screen, it's hard to look at anything else. To be a great star, you have to be a first-rate actor, too--you have to remember that. And on that list of great actors, Sean ranks way high." --director Sidney Lumet in Daily Variety, May 5, 1997,
Received the Freedom of Edinburgh award (1991).
Named a Commandeur des Artes et des Lettres by the French government.