Born in Fountainbridge, Scotland, on Aug. 25, 1930, Connery had spoken openly about growing up without much money.
In an oft-quoted anecdote, Connery claimed that, as an infant, he would be put to sleep in a dresser drawer because his parents couldn’t afford a crib.
Before his acting career, Connery had a number of odd jobs, ranging from painting coffins to construction work to modeling nude for a local art school. He also had a failed three-year stint in the Royal Navy as a teenager.
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Show Business Start
Connery got his first taste of the limelight in 1953 when he joined the Mr. Universe bodybuilding contest in London.
Although he only ended up placing third, the 6’2″ Scotsman caught the eye of a local casting director and later landed a part in the chorus in the London production of South Pacific.
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After years of working in theater and television, Connery got the role that would change everything for him.
In 1962, the actor was catapulted to superstardom as he became the first actor to ever step into James Bond’s shoes in Dr. No. He would go on to star in a total of seven films in the beloved series, including From Russia With Love, Goldfinger and You Only Live Twice.
His final film as 007 was 1983’s Never Say Never.
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Outside of his Bond filmography, the Scotsman is most fondly remembered for two roles: as Indiana Jones’ testy, persnickety father in 1989’s Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and as the doomed Irish cop Jimmy Malone in 1987’s gangster epic The Untouchables — for which he won an Academy Award.
In 2000, Connery was also knighted by Queen Elizabeth, which he told reporters was “one of the proudest days of my life.”
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Sexiest Man Alive
Connery, who was named PEOPLE’s Sexiest Man Alive in 1989 at the age of 59, would experience a reinvention of sorts in the ’90s with a string of high-octane pulse-racers, including The Hunt for Red October, The Rock and Dragonheart, in which he lent his thundering voice to the film’s mythic beast.
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Connery was married twice — first to Australian actress Diane Cilento, whom he divorced in 1973, and then to French-Moroccan artist Micheline Roquebrune, with whom he had a son, Jason.
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Stepping Out of the Spotlight
Connery would last headline a film in 2003, starring in the fantasy thriller The League of Extraordinary Gentleman.
He largely stayed out of the public eye after that, spending time in New York City where he was occasionally spotted strolling around with Roquebrune. Connery also briefly came out of retirement in 2014 to voice a character in the animated film Guardian of the Highlands.
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