Sir Sean Connery

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One of the few film ‘superstars’ truly worthy of the designation, actor Sean Connery was born to a middle-class Scottish family in the first year of the worldwide depression. Dissatisfied with his austere surroundings, Connery quit school at 15 to join the Navy (he still bears his requisite tattoos, one reading "Scotland Forever" and the other "Mum and Dad").

At his time he was holding down several minor jobs, not the least of which was as a coffin polisher. He also became interested in bodybuilding, which led to several modeling jobs and a bid at Scotland's "Mr. Universe" title.

Mildly intrigued by acting, Connery joined the singing-sailor chorus of the London production of South Pacific in 1951, which whetted his appetite for stage work. Connery worked for a while in repertory theater, then moved to television, where he scored a success in the BBC's re-staging of the American teledrama ‘Requiem for a Heavyweight’. The actor moved on to films, playing small roles (he'd been an extra in the 1954 Anna Neagle musical ‘Lilacs in the Spring’) and working up to supporting roles. Connery's first important movie role was as Lana Turner's romantic interest in ‘Another Time, Another Place’ (1958), although he was killed off 15 minutes into the picture.

After several more years in increasingly larger film and TV roles, Connery was cast as James Bond in ‘Dr. No’ (1962) he was far from the first choice, but the producers were eventually impressed by Sean and he got the role. Dressed in a tuxedo while mixing martinis, pummeling villains with pretensions to international domination, and romancing a string of nubile young women, of whom only Honor Blackman was a match for him, he became Britain's most successful film star - and export.
The actor played the secret agent again in ‘From Russia With Love’ (1963), but it wasn't until the third Bond picture, Goldfinger (1964), that both Connery and his secret-agent alter ego became a major box-office attraction. While the money steadily improved, Connery was already weary of Bond at the time of the fourth 007 flick ‘Thunderball’ (1965). He tried to prove to audiences and critics that there was more to his talents than James Bond by playing a villain in ‘Woman of Straw’ (1964), an enigmatic Hitchcock hero in ‘Marnie’ (1964), a cockney POW in ‘The Hill’ (1965), and a loony Greenwich Village poet in ‘A Fine Madness’ (1966).

Despite the excellence of his characterisations, audiences preferred the Bond films, while critics always qualified their comments with references to the secret agent. With ‘You Only Live Twice’ (1967), Connery swore he was through with James Bond however he had one more in him – ‘Diamonds Are Forever’ (1971) actually was one of the most successful and camp JB’s and was a great success at the Box Office.

Rather than coast on his celebrity, the actor sought out the most challenging movie assignments possible. In the late 60’s and early 70’s he made a number of films including including ‘La Tenda Rossa/The Red Tent’ (1969), ‘The Molly Maguires’ (1970), and ‘Zardoz’ (1973). This time audiences were more responsive, though Connery was still most successful with action films like ‘The Wind and the Lion’ (1974), ‘The Man Who Would Be King’ (1975), and ‘The Great Train Robbery’ (1979).

One of Connery's personal favorite performances was also one of his least typical: ‘In The Offence’ (1973), he played a troubled police detective whose emotions -- and hidden demons - are agitated by his pursuit of a child molester. This did not well received at the box office although it remains one of his best.
Another film that didn’t do as well as it should have (which is really a crime) was ‘A Bridge too Far’ (1977). Encompassing a range to top of the line talent not assembled since ‘The Great Escape’ (1963) it examined the planning and execution of Operation Market Garden (the allied assault on bridges across the Rhine). He was cast as a real Scottish Major General Roy Urquhart. It delivered the line at the end of the film (explaining why, against all odds 2000 of the British paratroopers were going to escape):-

‘I thought everyone knew that God was a Scotsman’

In 1981, Connery briefly returned to the Bond fold with ‘Never Say Never Again’, but his difficulties with the production staff turned what should have been a fond throwback to his halcyon days into a nightmarish experience for the actor. At this point, he hardly needed Bond to sustain his career but certainly his film did little toward forwarding his.







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