Sean Connery: A look at some of his career-defining roles - National |

For many of us there has and always will be only one James Bond, and that is Sir Sean Connery. But most of todays movie goers and fans of films forget that is long career in film has other notable films.

Sir Sean Connery began his career in TV way before the big screen took note of him. He played bit roles in TV Series such as Dixon of Dock Green and the 1957 series The Jack Benny Program. He then made TV Movies such as Blood Money where he starred with actors like Michael Cain. In 1959 he starred as Michael MacBride in the Magical World of Disney’s in “I Captured the King of The Leprechauns“, which was made into a movie called “Darby O”Gill and The Little People“.

In 1962 Sir Sean Connery took on the iconic Ian Flemming role Of James Bond in Dr. No. Connery set the Gold Standard for the character, and many people feel no one has been able to match his portrayal. Connery only portrayed the iconic character in 5 official James Bond movies Dr. No, From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball and Diamonds are Forever. He later starred as the iconic secret agent in Never Say Never Again.

Other notable films with Connery are Highlander, In The Name Of The Rose, The Untouchables and The Rock.

In 1946, at the age of 16, Connery joined the Royal Navy, during which time he acquired two tattoos, of which his official website says “unlike many tattoos, his were not frivolous — his tattoos reflect two of his lifelong commitments: his family and Scotland. … One tattoo is a tribute to his parents and reads ‘Mum and Dad’, and the other is self-explanatory, ‘Scotland Forever’.” He trained in Portsmouth at the naval gunnery school and in an anti-aircraft crew. He was later assigned as an Able Seaman on HMS Formidable. Connery was discharged from the navy at the age of 19 on medical grounds because of a duodenalulcer, a condition that affected most of the males in previous generations of his family.

Afterwards, he returned to the co-op, then worked as, among other things, a lorry driver, a lifeguard at Portobello swimming baths, a labourer, an artist’s model for the Edinburgh College of Art, and after a suggestion by former Mr. Scotland, Archie Brennan, a coffin polisher. The modelling earned him 15 shillings an hour. Artist Richard Demarco, at the time a student who painted several early pictures of Connery, described him as “very straight, slightly shy, too, too beautiful for words, a virtual Adonis”.

Connery began bodybuilding at the age of 18, and from 1951 trained heavily with Ellington, a former gym instructor in the British Army. 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. Connery said he was soon deterred from bodybuilding when he found that the Americans frequently beat him in competitions because of sheer muscle size and, unlike Connery, refused to participate in athletic activity which could make them lose muscle mass.

Connery was 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 was impressed with his physical prowess and offered Connery a contract worth £25 a week (equivalent to £703 in 2019) immediately after the game. Connery admits that he was tempted to accept, but he recalls, “I realised 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.”

Connery’s first job was as a milkman in Edinburgh with St. Cuthbert’s Co-operative Society. In 2009, Connery recalled a conversation in a taxi:

When I took a taxi during a recent Edinburgh Film Festival, the driver was amazed that I could put a name to every street we passed. “How come?” he asked. “As a boy I used to deliver milk round here,” I said. “So what do you do now?” That was rather harder to answer.

When Connery received the American Film Institute‘s Lifetime Achievement Award on 8 June 2006, he confirmed his retirement from acting. Connery’s disillusionment with the “idiots now making films in Hollywood” was cited as a reason for his decision to retire.  On 7 June 2007, he denied rumours that he would appear in the fourth Indiana Jones film, saying “retirement is just too much damned fun”.  In 2010, a bronze bust sculpture of Connery was placed in TallinnEstonia, outside The Scottish Club, whose membership includes Estonian Scotophiles and a handful of expatriate Scots.  In 2012, Connery briefly came out of retirement to voice the title character in the Scottish animated film Sir Billi the Vet. Connery served as executive producer for an expanded 80-minute version.

Personal Life

Connery’s first wife Diane Cilento,

During the production of South Pacific in the mid-1950s, Connery dated a Jewish “dark-haired beauty with a ballerina’s figure”, Carol Sopel, but was warned off by her family. He then dated Julie Hamilton, daughter of documentary filmmaker and feminist Jill Craigie. Given Connery’s rugged appearance and rough charm, Hamilton initially thought he was an appalling person and was not attracted to him until she saw him in a kilt, declaring him to be the most beautiful thing she’d ever seen in her life. He also shared a mutual attraction with jazz singer Maxine Daniels, whom he met at the Empire Theatre. He made a pass at her, but she told him she was already happily married with a daughter.

Connery was married to actress Diane Cilento from 1962 to 1973, though they separated in 1971. They had a son, actor Jason Connery. While they were separated, Connery dated Jill St. JohnLana WoodCarole Mallory, and Magda Konopka.  In her 2006 autobiography, Cilento alleged that he had abused her mentally and physically during their relationship.  Connery cancelled an appearance at the Scottish Parliament in 2006 because of controversy over his alleged support of abuse of women; he denied claims he told Playboy magazine in 1965: “I don’t think there is anything particularly wrong in hitting a woman, though I don’t recommend you do it in the same way you hit a man”, and was also reported to have stated to Vanity Fair in 1993, “There are women who take it to the wire. That’s what they are looking for, the ultimate confrontation. They want a smack.” In response Connery stated, “I don’t believe that any level of abuse of women is ever justified under any circumstances”. Connery at a Tartan Day celebration in Washington, D.C. When knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2000 he wore a green-and-black hunting tartan kilt of his mother’s MacLean clan.

Connery was married to Moroccan-French painter Micheline Roquebrune (born 1929) from 1975 until his death.  The marriage survived a well-documented affair Connery had in the late 1980s with the singer and songwriter Lynsey de Paul.

A keen golfer, Connery owned the Domaine de Terre Blanche in the South of France for twenty years (from 1979) where he planned to build his dream golf course on the 266 acres (108 ha) of land; the dream was realised when he sold it to German billionaire Dietmar Hopp in 1999.  He was awarded an honorary rank of Shodan (1st dan) in Kyokushin karate. Connery relocated to the Bahamas in the 1990s. He owned a mansion in Lyford Cay on New Providence.

Connery was knighted by The Queen at an investiture ceremony at Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh on 5 July 2000. He had been nominated for a knighthood in 1997 and 1998, but these nominations were reported to have been vetoed by Donald Dewar owing to Connery’s political views. Connery had a villa in KranidiGreece. His neighbour was King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, with whom he shared a helicopter platform. Michael Caine (who co-starred with Connery in The Man Who Would Be King in 1975) was among Connery’s closest friends.  Connery was a supporter of Scottish football club Rangers F.C.

Political opinions

Connery was a member of the Scottish National Party (SNP), a centre-left political party campaigning for Scottish independence from the United Kingdom, and supported the party financially and through personal appearances. His funding of the SNP ceased in 2001, when the Parliament of the United Kingdom passed legislation that prohibited overseas funding of political activities in the UK.


Connery died in his sleep on 31 October 2020, aged 90, at his home in the Lyford Cay community of Nassau in the Bahamas.  His death was announced by his family and Eon Productions; although they did not disclose the cause of death, his son Jason stated that he had been unwell for some time.  A day later, Connery’s wife Micheline Roquebrune said that he had dementia in his final years.

Following the announcement of his death, many co-stars and figures from the entertainment industry paid tribute to Connery, including Sam NeillNicolas CageRobert De NiroTippi HedrenAlec Baldwin, Hugh JackmanGeorge LucasShirley BasseyKevin CostnerCatherine Zeta-JonesBarbra StreisandJohn CleeseHarrison Ford, former Bond stars George LazenbyTimothy DaltonPierce Brosnan, and current 007 Daniel Craig.  Connery’s longtime friend Michael Caine called him a “great star, brilliant actor and a wonderful friend”.  James Bond producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli 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.”

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