The man who came to define dash and elegance for an entire generation of moviegoers grew up in a poor tenement in Edinburgh, Scotland, the eldest of two sons of a truck driver and a charwoman. Young Thomas Sean Connery began helping to support his family with his first job at the age of seven, delivering milk. By 13 he had to quit school, working as a day laborer, a steel bender, a cement mixer. He joined the Royal Navy in 1947 for a 12-year stint, but he was discharged due to severe stomach ulcers in 1950. Then came his first job in show business: movie usher. He was also a bricklayer, a lifeguard, and a coffin polisher as well as a weightlifter and artist's model. It was his impressive physique that landed him the job of representing Scotland in the 1950 Mr. Universe pageant in London, where he was spotted by the producers of the hit Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific and given the role of a singing, dancing, shirtless sailor.
After this modest West End debut, which afforded the novice actor intensive dancing, singing and acting lessons, Sean Connery began landing roles and was particularly acclaimed in another American classic, Requiem for a Heavyweight, staged by the BBC. In 1958 he played his first leading role on screen, opposite Lana Turner in the romantic war drama Another Time, Another Place. He was noticed. And when it came time to bring to the screen the most intriguing and fascinating character in Cold War fiction, Connery beat out Cary Grant, Rex Harrison, Trevor Howard, Patrick McGoohan and Roger Moore for the role of Ian Fleming's Agent 007. Dr. No in 1962 turned out to be the beginning of the most successful film series in history.
Connery's screen spy - Bond, James Bond - was dapper, virile, sexually liberated and politically savvy, disarmingly witty and irresistible. He captured the imagination of millions and triumphed at the box office for three decades beginning with Dr. No and continuing with undiminished excitement in From Russia With Love (1963), Goldfinger (1964), Thunderball (1965), You Only Live Twice (1967), Diamonds Are Forever (1971), and Never Say Never Again (1983).
He played a different sort of hero in Alfred Hitchcock's 1964 thriller Marnie. But it was after the wildly successful Diamonds Are Forever that Connery felt the need to breakout from his own 007 creation and prove himself in a variety of roles. He succeeded. He starred in the science-fiction epic Zardoz and in Sidney Lumet's opulent adaptation of Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express, both in 1974. He followed this in 1975 with what many consider his finest work, an enigmatic adventurer in John Huston's film version of Rudyard Kipling's The Man Who Would Be King. The next year, he teamed up with Audrey Hepburn in what may be the wisest and most romantic of all movie versions of the Robin Hood legend, Robin and Marian.
Brain DePalma's The Untouchables brought Connery the 1987 Academy Award. In The Russia House, Tom Stoppard's adaptation of the bittersweet John LeCarre bestseller, Connery played a very different Cold War warrior from Ian Fleming's glamorous secret agent. And Connery's appeal as an action hero has shown no signs of diminishment as the actor matured on screen in The Hunt for Red October, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Rising Sun, The Great Train Robbery, First Knight, The Rock, and Entrapment.
Sean Connery has received numerous international accolades including the Legion d'Honneur and Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres (the highest civilian honors given in France), and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Best Actor award for The Name of the Rose in 1987, the 1990 Lifetime Achievement Award for a British actor or actress who has made an outstanding contribution to world cinema, and in 1998, BAFTA's highest award, The British Academy Fellowship. In 1995 Connery received the Cecil B. DeMille Award for "outstanding contribution to the entertainment field," given by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association at its annual Golden Globe Awards.
Steven Spielberg has said that "there are seven genuine movie stars in the world today, and Sean is one of them." There is, in fact, no one quite like Sean Connery.