James Bond Star Sir Sean Connery Dies Aged 90 – Saturday, October 31st, 2020 (Shutterstock)
By Ryan Grenoble, AOL
Sir Thomas Sean Connery, the iconic Scottish actor and Hollywood legend who made a name for himself as the first James Bond, has died, according to multiple outlets.
He was 90.
Before he was “Bond, James Bond,” Connery was just another kid in a working-class neighborhood in Fountainbridge, Scotland. Born on Aug. 25, 1930, to Joe and Euphamia Connery, “Tommy” ― as he was nicknamed ― spent his first years sleeping in a drawer, as his parents were unable to afford a crib.
“My background was harsh,” Connery has acknowledged. “We were poor, but I never knew how poor till years after.”
“It sounds strange to say it now,” he recalled in an interview with The Scottish Sun, “but we never realized we lacked anything!”
His father worked at a nearby mill, and Connery began working at a young age to help support himself and his family. He began delivering milk at the age of 9 (incidentally, he picked up smoking at about the same age), toting bottles from house to house via horse-drawn cart. At the age of 13, as World War II raged, Connery dropped out of school to work full time and earn his keep at home.
“From the time I started working at 13, I always paid my share of the rent, and the attitude at home was the prevalent one in Scotland ― you make your own bed and so you have to lie on it,” he said in a 1965 interview with Playboy. “I didn’t ask for advice and I didn’t get it. I had to make it on my own or not at all.”
Connery joined the Royal Navy three years later, working as an armorer. He inked two tattoos while in the service: one that read “Scotland Forever” and another that read “Mum and Dad.” Both lasted longer than his navy career. Though he signed on for a seven-year stint in the navy, he was discharged after only three, sidelined due to a persistent stomach ulcer.
Following his discharge from the navy, Connery scraped by doing random jobs, working stints as a bricklayer, lifeguard and coffin polisher. He also spent hours at the gym and posed as a nude model from time to time at the Edinburgh College of Art, which still owns some paintings of him:
Connery’s first acting job came only after his bodybuilding pursuits led him to a Mr. Universe competition in London in 1953. He placed third at the competition, and while there, a fellow bodybuilder mentioned auditions were being held for the play “South Pacific.” Despite having virtually no experience, Sean decided to go for it (instead of pursuing a career in soccer), and was awarded a small role.
“I’d no experience whatever [at acting] and hadn’t even been on a stage before, but it turned out to be one of my more intelligent moves,” he told Playboy in 1965.
In his new gig, Connery earned £12.00 a week playing Sergeant Waters, a member of the chorus. He’d lied about his acting abilities during the audition and immersed himself in literature to make up for his shortcomings, reading everything from George Bernard Shaw and Shakespeare to War and Peace and James Joyce.
“I read them all,” Connery recalled in a later interview. “I went to the libraries in every town up and down Britain.” At the same time, he began reading aloud into a tape-recorder, playing the tapes back to himself in an attempt to refine his thick Scottish dialect.
“I loved him because he had this twinkle all the time … he’s a great, great character,” Millicent Martin, one of the co-stars in “South Pacific,” said. “The only thing was, nobody could understand a word Sean was saying.”
Slowly, and with much hard work, Connery overcame the hurdles ― and his indecipherable accent. Following “South Pacific,” he picked up parts in “Another Time, Another Place” in 1958 and “Anna Christie” in 1957, where he met his first wife, Australian actress Diane Cilento, whom he married in 1962. (The marriage ended in 1973; Cilento later said he had been physically abusive, and he once caused controversy by telling Playboy he didn’t think “there is anything particularly wrong about hitting a woman.”)
Connery remarried in 1975 to Tunisian-born French artist Micheline Roquebrune, whom he’d met during a golf tournament in Morocco in 1970.
In 1962, to the apparent surprise of both industry insiders and Connery himself, he earned the part of Secret Agent 007 in a film interpretation of Ian Fleming’s 1958 novel, Dr. No.
Many skeptics believed Connery had been miscast in the role (including Fleming himself, who described the Scotsman as more of “an overgrown stunt-man” than Bond material), a sentiment Connery didn’t go out of his way to dispute.
“Before I got the part, I might have agreed with them,” he told Playboy. “If you had asked any casting director who would be the sort of man to cast as Bond, an Eton-bred Englishman, the last person into the box would have been me, a working-class Scotsman. And I didn’t particularly have the face for it; at 16 I looked 30.”