Sir Thomas Sean Connery KBE (25 August 1930-30 October 2020), more commonly known as Sean Connery, was a Scottish actor and producer who has won an Academy Award, two BAFTA Awards and three Golden Globes. He played Juan Sánchez Villa-Lobos Ramírez in Highlander (1986) and it's sequel Highlander 2 : The Quickening (1991). Sean was the older brother of Neil Connery, who is best-known for his role as Neil Niren MD in "Only When I Laugh".
He was probably best known for his portrayal the character James Bond, and he starred in seven Bond films between 1962 and 1983. In 1988, Connery won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in The Untouchables. His film career also includes such films as Marnie, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, The Hunt for Red October, Murder on the Orient Express, Dragonheart, and The Rock. Connery was once polled as "The Greatest Living Scot" and was knighted in July 2000. In 1989, he was proclaimed "Sexiest Man Alive" by People magazine, and in 1999, at age 69, he was voted "Sexiest Man of the Century".
Thomas Sean Connery was born in Fountainbridge, Edinburgh to Euphemia "Effie" (née Maclean), a cleaning woman, and Joseph Connery, a factory worker and lorry driver. Both his mother's parents were native Scottish Gaelic speakers from Fife and Uig on the Isle of Skye. His father was a Roman Catholic Scot of Irish descent with roots in County Wexford, while his mother was a Protestant. He had a younger brother, Neil (b. 1938). Connery claimed he was called Sean, his middle name, long before becoming an actor, explaining that when he was young he had an Irish friend named Séamus and that those who knew them both had decided to call Connery by his middle name whenever both were present.
He helped out backstage at the King's Theatre in late 1951. He became interested in the proceedings, and a career was launched. He also took up bodybuilding as a hobby. While his official website claims he was third in the 1950 Mr. Universe contest, most sources place him in the 1953 competition, either third in the Junior class or failing to place in the Tall Man classification. One of the other competitors mentioned that auditions were being held for a production of South Pacific; Connery landed a small part.
He was also a keen footballer, having played for Bonnyrigg Rose in his younger days. He was offered a trial with East Fife. While on tour with South Pacific, Connery played in a football match against a local team that Matt Busby, manager of Manchester United, happened to be scouting. According to reports, Busby offered Connery a contract worth £25 a week immediately after the game. Connery admits that he was tempted to accept, but he recalls, "I realized that a top-class footballer could be over the hill by the age of 30, and I was already 23. I decided to become an actor and it turned out to be one of my more intelligent moves".
One of his major early film parts was in Another Time, Another Place (1958), he then landed a leading role in the film Darby O'Gill and the Little People (1959). He also had a prominent television role in Rudolph Cartier's 1961 production of Anna Karenina for BBC Television, in which he co-starred with Claire Bloom.
Connery's breakthrough came in the role of secret agent James Bond. He played the character in the first five Bond films: Dr. No (1962), From Russia with Love (1963), Goldfinger (1964), Thunderball (1965), and You Only Live Twice (1967) -- then appeared again as Bond in Never Say Never Again (1983). All were commercially successful.
James Bond's creator, Ian Fleming, originally doubted the casting, saying, "He's not what I envisioned of James Bond looks...I’m looking for Commander Bond and not an overgrown stunt-man," adding that Connery was unrefined. Fleming's girlfriend, however, told him Connery had the requisite sexual charisma. Fleming changed his mind after the successful Dr. No premiere; he was so impressed, he created a half-Scottish, half-Swiss heritage for the literary James Bond in the later novels.
In 2005, From Russia with Love was adapted by Electronic Arts into a video game, titled James Bond 007: From Russia with Love, which featured new voice work by Connery as well as his likeness, and those of several of the film's supporting cast. Connery also starred in such films as Alfred Hitchcock's Marnie (1964).
Apart from The Man Who Would Be King and The Wind and the Lion, both released in 1975, most of Connery's successes in the next decade were as part of ensemble casts in films such as Murder on the Orient Express (1974) and A Bridge Too Far (1977). In 1981, Sean Connery appeared in Time Bandits as Agamemnon. After his experience with Never Say Never Again in 1983 and the following court case, Connery became unhappy with the major studios and for two years did not make any films. Following the successful European production The Name of the Rose (1986), for which he won a BAFTA award, Connery's interest in more commercial material was revived.
That same year, he played Ramirez in Highlander which showcased his ability to play older mentors to younger leads, which would become a recur in many of his later films. He and co-star Christopher Lambert got on extremely well during filming, he reprised the role 5 years later in Highlander 2 : The Quickening, even though Ramirez was killed off in the first. Originally he was not going to appear in the sequel, but Lambert threatened to walk out of the film if Connery's character didn't return.
In 1987, his acclaimed performance as a hard-nosed Irish born cop in The Untouchables earned him the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, his sole nomination for his career. Subsequent box-office hits included Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), The Hunt for Red October (1990), The Russia House (1990), The Rock (1996), and Entrapment (1999).
Connery's films have included several box office disappointments such as First Knight (1995), The Avengers (1998), and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003), as well as received positive critical reviews in Finding Forrester (2000), and received a Crystal Globe for outstanding artistic contribution to world cinema.
At the Tartan Day celebrations in New York in March 2006, Connery confirmed his retirement from acting, and stated that he was writing a history book. On 7 June 2007, he denied rumors that he would appear in the fourth Indiana Jones film, stating that "retirement is just too much damned fun." On 25 August 2008, his 78th birthday, Connery unveiled his autobiography, Being a Scot, co-written with Murray Grigor.
He turned down the role of Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings in 2006, declaring himself tired of acting and sick of the "idiots now making films in Hollywood."
Connery returned to voice acting later, playing the title character in the animated short, Sir Billi the Vet and in 2005 he recorded voice overs for a video game version of his Bond film, From Russia with Love. In an interview on the game disc, Connery stated that he was very happy that the producers of EA Games had approached him to voice Bond, and stated that he hoped to do another one sometime in the near future. In 2010, he reprised his role as the title character in the animated film, Sir Billi, serving also as executive producer.
At the age of 90, he died in his sleep while at his home in the Bahamas. His son, actor Jason Connery, said his father had been “unwell for some time.” He was cremated after his death, and his ashes will be scattered in Scotland at a later date.
Following the announcement of his death, many co-stars and figures from the entertainment industry paid tribute to Connery. His longtime friend Michael Caine called him a "great star, brilliant actor and a wonderful friend". James Bond producers released a statement saying Connery had "revolutionized the world with his gritty and witty portrayal of the sexy and charismatic secret agent. He is undoubtedly largely responsible for the success of the film series and we shall be forever grateful to him."