Scottish actor Sir Sean Connery has died.
For many, Sean Connery was the definitive James Bond. Suave and cold-hearted, his 007 was every inch the Cold War dinosaur of the books.
He strode across screen, licensed to kill. He moved like a panther, hungry and in search of prey. There was no contest. His great rival, Roger Moore, by contrast, simply cocked an eyebrow, smiled and did a quip.
But whereas Ian Fleming’s hero went to Eton, Connery’s own background was noticeably short of fast cars, beautiful women and vodka Martinis – either shaken or stirred.
Thomas Sean Connery was born in the Fountainbridge area of Edinburgh on 25 August 1930, the son of a Catholic factory worker and a Protestant domestic cleaner. . .
He left school at 13 with no qualifications and delivered milk, polished coffins and laid bricks, before joining the Royal Navy. Three years later, he was invalided out of the service with stomach ulcers. His arms by now had tattoos which proclaimed his passions: “Scotland forever” and “Mum & Dad”.
In Edinburgh, he gained a reputation as “hard man” when six gang members tried to steal from his coat. When he stopped them, he was followed. Connery launched a one-man assault which the future Bond won hands down.
He scraped a living any way he could. He drove trucks, worked as a lifeguard and posed as a model at the Edinburgh College of Art. He spent his spare time bodybuilding. . .
A keen footballer, Connery was good enough to attract the attention of Matt Busby, who offered him a £25-a-week contract at Manchester United.
But, bitten by the acting bug when odd-jobbing at a local theatre, he decided a footballer’s career was potentially too short and opted to pursue his luck on the stage. It was, he later said, “one of my more intelligent moves”.
In 1953, he was in London competing in the Mr Universe competition. He heard that there were parts going in the chorus of a production of the musical South Pacific. By the following year, he was playing the role of Lieutenant Buzz Adams, made famous on Broadway by Larry Hagman.
American actor Robert Henderson encouraged Connery to educate himself. Henderson lent him works by Ibsen, Shakespeare and Bernard Shaw, and persuaded Connery to take elocution lessons.
Connery made the first of many appearances as a film extra in the 1954 movie Lilacs in the Spring. There were minor roles on television too, including a gangster in an episode of the BBC police drama Dixon of Dock Green. . .