Sean Connery became a worldwide superstar through his acting. Not least because of his legendary performance as 007 in several of the James Bond films, including the series’ very first film.
Sean Connery – early life
Connery grew up in a pretty rough neighborhood of Edinburgh, which some would call a “slum.” He decided to quit school to help the family with money in his early teenage years. His mother worked as a cleaning lady and his father was a truck driver. Sean delivered milk from a local dairy and earned one pound a week.
“We were very poor,” he once said of his childhood. “But I never knew how poor because that’s how everyone was there.”
At age 17, Connery was drafted into the Royal Navy. However, just three years later, he had to leave. Sean had gotten a serious case of ulcers – a duodenal ulcer, which had affected several males across his family’s generation – and he once again returned to Scotland and Edinburgh.
Once home, Sean Connery started working many odd jobs, including lifeguard, laying bricks, shoveling coal, and posing as a model for the Edinburgh Art School. He also worked as a polisher at a coffin factory – and since he was both broke and homeless, Sean Connery decided to sleep at his workplace.
At that time, Connery didn’t go by “Sean” but by his real first name, Tom.
“He wasn’t Sean Connery then – we all knew him as Tom,” his old colleague Tommy Wark told The Scotsman in 2005. “I was on the joinery side, and he worked with two women from Craigmillar who did the polishing of the caskets.
Competed in ‘Mr. Universe’ contest
“He came there to start work about 1950 and had nowhere to stay. I know he spent a few nights sleeping in a coffin just after he started,” Wark added.
After some time, Sean Connery finally saved some money to put into his other significant interest. He managed to become a member of the Dunedin Weightlifting Club.
“It was not so much to be fit but to look good for the girls,” Connery said, per Biography.
Sure, the ladies were impressed – but his fellow friends at the gym were also stunned. In fact, they decided to nominate Sean Connery for a Mr. Universe contest, which became a critical moment in his future acting career.
In 1953, he traveled to London from Edinburgh, where he was to attend the competition. The then 23-year-old introduced himself as “Mr. Scotland,” and the judges were impressed.
Connery placed third in the competition. Then, however, something more important than winning happened. At the Mr. Universe competition, local casting directors saw Connery and gave him a new type of job.
He landed his first-ever job as a chorus spot in a London-based touring company, and soon after, Connery appeared in the musical South Pacific.
“I didn’t have a voice, couldn’t dance,” Sean Connery said of his performance. “But I could look good standing there.”
It didn’t take long before Sean Connery’s real acting career started. He was promoted to a proper role within the touring company and began calling himself Sean. Why? It reminded him of the movie cowboy “Shane.”
He got minor roles in movies and television. But casting directors wanted him to do one big thing; His rough Scottish accent was very hard to understand, and he was urged to take elocution lessons.
Every actor dreams about getting their big breakthrough, but no one knows beforehand when it will appear.
In Sean Connery’s case, he had acted in films and television for about ten years before his big breakthrough. But not only did it make him very famous. It also put his name in the history books for all future, as he appeared in the first-ever James Bond film, Dr. No, as James Bond himself.
Many characters in the annals of film history will be remembered forever. However, one of the most famous is James Bond, even among those who haven’t seen the films. The legendary secret agent first appeared in Ian Fleming’s book Casino Royale, released in 1953, and since then, the fascination with 007 has been never-ending.
Ian Fleming reportedly took the name for his most famous character after coming across an ornithological book entitled Birds Of The West Indies. The author of said book? Yep, you guessed it … James Bond.
How Sean Connery got the role of James Bond
Fleming decided to borrow the name for his super spy – and the rest, as they say, is history.
“I wanted the simplest, dullest, plainest-sounding name I could think of. James Bond seemed perfect,” Flemming explained.
Fleming went on to release 12 James Bond books. Today, his brainchild has become one of the most well-known blockbusters of all time. A total of seven actors have portrayed Bond on-screen, while Sean Connery portrayed 007 for six films. The Scottish actor was the original Bond – and made James Bond what he is today.
So how did he get the part?
Producers Harry Saltzman and Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli had won the rights to Ian Fleming’s famous novels and were hunting for the man to play James Bond. Several names came up, including Cary Grant – who actually signed the contract but later was dropped – and Patrick McGoohan.
Roger Moore was also an actor considered for the role of James Bond, but he would get the job later on.
At least a decade younger than other serious candidates, Sean Connery was one out of six thought of for the role of 007. He met the two producers at a restaurant, and once he left, Brocolli and Saltzman studied him through the window.
“He moved like a jungle cat,” Saltzman recalled.
Got tired of the Bond films
Ian Fleming also had a say in who was to play his beloved character. And it didn’t take long before the author was super impressed by Connery. Fleming admired Sean Connery’s performance as James Bond so much that in his 007 novel You Only Live Twice, Fleming gave Bond a Scottish ancestry to mirror Connery.
Sean Connery went on to make six James Bond films and also appeared in the standalone Bond film Never Say Never Again in 1983.
Just like The Beatles created “Beatlemania” back in the 1960s, Sean Connery and James Bond became a worldwide phenomenon. Of course, the films were highly popular, but they also made Sean Connery a global superstar, millionaire, and sex symbol.
But at the same time, doing the same type of film can be tiring, which was the case for Sean Connery.
“It was a case of phasing out and getting on to other things,” he told EW in 1995. “Also, they started getting into all this space stuff. They kept upping the physical hardware. I mean, that car going through the alley on its side in Diamonds Are Forever — it just got to be too much.”
“Sean is rather sanguine about it now,” fellow Bond actor Roger Moore said. “But I think there was a time when he was bored of being Bond. You do five or six of these things, and people put a tag on you. It can get rather limiting.”
Sean Connery – films, Academy Award
While Sean was doing a great job as James Bond, it was clear that he was worried about being typecast. Therefore, he did many other roles in between the Bond films, for example, starring in Alfred Hitchcock’s psychological thriller Marnie.
Sean Connery’s career was so much more than James Bond. However, the Scottish actor will always be remembered best for his performance as the original James Bond.
Some of his other credits include The Hunt for Red October, Indiana Jones, The Rock, and The Untouchables, with the last earning him an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role.
Besides having a massive career in front of the camera, Sean Connery was a husband and father.
In Hollywood, seeing marriages go down the drain and end in divorce is relatively common, but that was far from reality in Connery’s case.
In fact, Sean Connery was married to his second wife, Micheline Roquebrune, for 45 years until he died in 2020.
Sean Connery – wife, marriage, children, family, divorce
In 1970, the James Bond star visited Morocco for a golf tournament. At that point, Connery was married to his first wife, Diane Cilento. The couple had a son named Jason Connery, born in 1963.
Micheline Roquebrune had been married twice before, but as she visited the golf tournament, she had no clue that Sean Connery was a major Hollywood celebrity.
“I saw this man from the back, and of course, he had a fine physique, but that first day I didn’t know who he was or anything about him,” she told The Sun in 2011, recalling their first meeting. “Then I dreamed I saw this man. I was in his arms. And I thought, ‘At last, peace.’ The next day I went back to the tournament, and that was that!”
“Micheline is an amazing woman. She is the love of my life,” Sean Connery added.
Micheline and Sean hit it off right away. In 1973, he divorced his first wife, and in 1975, they married.
In the early days of their romance, however, speaking with each other wasn’t easy. Micheline – working as a painter – was fluent in French and Spanish and could understand Arabic. But unfortunately, Connery could only speak English. So instead, they had to use body language.
Sean Connery – cause of death, net worth, alleged affair
“In the early days, it was difficult for us to see each other,” he once revealed in an interview. “She was still living in North Africa with her children.”
Sean Connery and his wife moved to the Bahamas, where they spent 45 years together.
At the same time, Connery was reported to have had affairs during the course of their marriage.
Singer Lynsey de Paul alleged that she and Connery had an affair in 1989, adding that he gave her his number and pursued her relentlessly.
On October 31, 2020, Sean Connery passed away in Lyford Cay, Bahamas, at 90. He had struggled with dementia for a long time and passed away in his sleep.
After the tragic news, his wife, Micheline Roquebrune, paid an emotional tribute to her ‘gorgeous model of a man’.
“He was gorgeous, and we had a wonderful life together,” she said. “He was a model of a man. It is going to be very hard without him, I know that. But it could not last forever, and he went peacefully.”
Sean Connery last wish
According to his death certificate, Connery died from heart failure due to pneumonia and old age. His dementia also took a toll on him during his final years.
”It was no life for him. He was not able to express himself latterly. At least he died in his sleep and it was just so peaceful. I was with him all the time and he just slipped away. It was what he wanted.
Micheline Roquebrune was by his side until the end.
She said: “At least he died in his sleep, and it was just so peaceful. I was with him all the time, and he just slipped away. It was what he wanted. He got his final wish to slip away without any fuss.”
Even though the Oscar-winning actor died in his home in the Bahamas, Sean Connery was always a Scotsman. He is still one of the biggest stars to come out of Scotland, where he has been hailed as a national treasure – hehad an estimated net worth of around $350 million.
After his passing, Connery returned to his homeland following his last wish.
“We are going to bring Sean back to Scotland – that was his final wish,” his wife Micheline Roquebrune told Scottish Mail and added: “He wanted his ashes to be scattered in the Bahamas and also in his homeland.”
Rest in peace, Sean Connery. Please, share this article with friends and family on Facebook if you also enjoyed him in the James Bond films!