- Title: FILE: Scottish actor Sean Connery celebrates his 80th birthday
- Date: 25th August 2010
- Summary: PINEWOOD STUDIOS OUTSIDE LONDON, ENGLAND, UK (FILE- 1971) (REUTERS) CONNERY ON-SET OF 'DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER'
- Embargoed: 9th September 2010 13:00
- Topics: Arts / Culture / Entertainment / Showbiz
- Reuters ID: LVAO6NHXY6A961NGXCZPS1CPINP
- Story Text: Scottish actor Sean Connery is celebrating his 80th birthday on Wednesday (August 25). He shot to international stardom as the dashing British agent 007 in the James Bond films, but it was in his later roles that he won worldwide acclaim for his considerable acting talents.
Tall, distinguished and with a throaty voice to match a sometimes crusty personality, the Scottish actor played a series of character roles and won an Academy Award in 1988 for his portrayal of a tough Chicago cop in "The Untouchables".
At 65, when many actors are slowing down, and despite an earlier bout with cancer of the larynx, Connery was working harder than ever and still oozing sex appeal.
With a clean bill of health following radiation therapy, Connery had three films ready for release including "Just Cause"
in which he starred and was executive producer.
Sometimes labelled Scotland's favourite Scot, Connery was also described as the sexiest man alive by the American magazine People in 1989.
For millions of film fans, he will always be remembered as Bond, the character he immortalised in the first Bond film "Dr No" in 1962.
Connery, who grew up in the slums of Edinburgh and once worked as a coffin polisher, played the character created by novelist Ian Fleming in seven Bond films.
The lavishly-produced movies packed with hi-tech gadgetry and spectacular effects broke box office records and grossed hundreds of millions of dollars in more than 50 countries.
The success made Connery Britain's most popular film actor for four consecutive years in the mid-60s and he was the number one box office attraction in American cinemas in 1966.
But Connery is a very different type from the suave, sophisticated Bond with his impeccable social background and connoisseur's taste in wine and women. Connery who was brought up in near-poverty, never attempted to disguise his raw Scottish accent and preferred beer to Bond's vodka martini cocktails that are "shaken not stirred."
Born Thomas Connery on August 25, 1930, he was the eldest of two sons of a long-distance truck driver and a mother who worked as a cleaner.
He left school in his early teens and worked in a variety of jobs, even buffing coffins for an Edinburgh undertaker.
At the age of 17, two years after the end of World War Two, Connery was drafted into the Royal Navy, served three years as an ordinary seaman. He hated it.
After a spell as a lifeguard on a Scottish beach, a chance meeting with a friend resulted in him joining the chorus of the American stage musical "South Pacific" -- after 48 hours of concentrated dancing and singing lessons.
Connery played small parts with repertory companies before graduating to films and television. He got his big break in the 1960s with his rugged but sensitive performance in a television boxing drama called "Requiem for a Heavyweight."
After placing high up in a newspaper poll asking readers to list the men they would like to see to play Bond, Connery got an interview with producers Harry Saltzman and Albert "Cubby" Broccoli and was signed for the part.
The film was an instant hit. It cost less than a million dollars and grossed $22 million.
More Bond movies followed -- "From Russia With Love," "Goldfinger" (both made in 1964), "Thunderball" (1965) and "You Only Live Twice" (1967).
"Goldfinger", a brilliant fantasy about a raid on Fort Knox, was one of the most successful, netting more than $10 million in its first three months of release in the U.S. and Canada.
But Connery was worried about being typecast, and he decided it was time to break away.
Australian actor George Lazenby was selected to play Bond in the next film, "On Her Majesty's Secret Service," but without Connery it lacked what the public wanted.
The Scot was lured back in 1971 to make "Diamonds Are Forever," with temptations that included a substantial slice of the profits which he said he would devote to a Scottish educational trust.
Again he insisted it would be his last Bond. Twelve years later, at the age of 53, Connery was back again.
He appeared as the quick-shooting agent in "Never Say Never Again," an independent production that enraged his old mentor, Cubby Broccoli.
Between his Bond roles, Connery starred in "The Man Who Would Be King", "The Name of the Rose" and "The Hill." Audiences also enjoyed his performances in "Outland", "Zardoz", "Rising Sun", "The Russia House", "Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade," and "Robin and Marian" in which he appeared as a middle-aged Robin Hood with Audrey Hepburn as Maid Marian.
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