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Tuesday, 21 December, 1999, 16:28 GMT
Connery: Bond and beyond

connery Acting the cool: But Connery got tired of 007 role

When film star Sean Connery was overlooked for a knighthood last year, it was reported to be because of his support - both ideological and financial - for the Scottish National Party.

Britain's biggest film star claims never to have forgotten his Scottish roots.

From his "Scotland Forever" tattoo - on his arm - to his support of educational projects for young Scots, Connery never misses a chance to proclaim his love for the "Auld Country".

Connery, the eldest of two sons born to a truckdriver and charwoman, grew up in impoverished surroundings in Edinburgh.

Sean Connery
Date of Birth: August 25, 1930
Place of Birth: Edinburgh, Scotland
Relations: Wife: Micheline Roquebrune (French-Moroccan portrait painter); ex-wife: Diane Cilento (actress); son: Jason
Fan Mail: c/o Creative Artists Agency 9830 Wilshire Blvd Beverly Hills, CA 90212 USA
By the age of nine he was helping to support his family with a milkrun.

After leaving school at 13, he joined the Royal Navy, only to be discharged because of ulcers. The young Connery was back in the labour market and tried his hand at several jobs including labourer and lifeguard.

He was also a model for art classes and his bodybuilding won him third place in the 1953 Mr Universe contest.

Connery lapped up this first taste of fame. He took a job in the chorus of South Pacific and progressed to TV work, appearing in the BBC's film Requiem for a Heavyweight, for which he was well reviewed.

connery Connery, for many the definitive Bond, with Aston Martin
His first big-screen assignment of any note was in 1958 with Lana Turner in Another Time, Another Place.

But in 1962 came the turning point when he was cast as Ian Fleming's martini-quaffing, lady-killing secret agent James Bond in Dr. No.

He beat Cary Grant, Rex Harrison, Trevor Howard, Patrick McGoohan and Roger Moore to the job, even though it was reported Fleming was not keen on Connery.

Producer Harry Saltzman later explained his choice. He awarded Connery the part after watching him walk down the street!

The surprise success of the film led to a string of Bond sequels over the next five years: Goldfinger (1964), From Russia, With Love (1964), Thunderball (1965), and You Only Live Twice (1967).

But, tired of being typecast as 007, Connery quit the role to devote more time to his family and golf.

Actor George Lazenby stepped into the Scotsman's shoes for the next Bond movie, On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

But it received lukewarm reviews and Connery was persuaded to return to the role in 1971's Diamonds are Forever. His commitment was hard won - he demanded, and received, a then-unprecedented salary of $1.25m, plus a percentage of the film's profits.

With that role, he said he was finished as Bond, although he did return in 1983's Never Say Never Again, a loose remake of Thunderball.

For many Bond fans, Connery was the one who set the standard - sophistication, good looks, and a dangerous edge that have only recently re-emerged with Pierce Brosnan in the role.

Rock of ages: Connery was still a hit in the 1990s
Brosnan himself makes no secret of the fact that he uses Connery as his 007 template.

After Diamonds, Connery sought to break out of the Bond straightjacket by accepting roles in such diverse pictures as the science-fiction flick Zardoz (1974) and Sidney Lumet's adaptation of the Agatha Christie whodunnit Murder on the Orient Express (1974).

He won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1987, for his role as the Irish cop Malone in The Untouchables.

And proving that advancing years are no bar to such things, he was named People magazine's "Sexiest Man Alive" in 1989, as he neared his 60s.

More conventional leading roles followed in the 1990s with The Russia House, The Hunt for Red October, First Knight (1995), Dragonheart (1996) The Rock (1996) and the 1998 feature-film version of the '60s cult TV classic The Avengers.

connery Connery with wife Micheline
In 1999, he starred in and produced Entrapment, a romantic thriller, also featuring Catherine Zeta-Jones.

He is fiercely proud of his Scottish background and since the early 1970s his love for Scotland has manifested itself in projects such as the Scottish International Education Trust, an organisation dedicated to helping young Scots obtain an education.

Although he lives primarily in Marbella, Spain, he remains active in the movement for Scottish independence, and, more recently, has been vocal in petitioning the Scottish government to issue a ban on all handguns.

He has been married to French-Moroccan painter Micheline Roquebrune since 1975. He has a son, actor Jason Connery, from his first marriage to Australian-born actress Diane Cilento.

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See also:
21 Dec 99 |  Scotland
'Spectacular U-turn' over Connery gong
19 Nov 99 |  Shaken Not Stirred
Four decades of Bondage
06 Dec 99 |  Entertainment
Connery and Wonder honoured
25 Aug 99 |  Edinburgh Festival 99
Connery steals the show

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