Sir Thomas Sean Connery, the iconic Scottish actor and Hollywood legend who made a name for himself as the cinema’s first James Bond, has died at the age of 90, his publicist confirmed to HuffPost.
Connery died in his sleep on Friday night, his family said.
Before he was “Bond, James Bond,” Connery was just another kid in a working-class neighborhood in Fountainbridge, Scotland. Born on Aug. 25, 1930, to Joe and Euphamia Connery, “Tommy” ― as he was nicknamed ― spent his first years sleeping in a drawer, as his parents were unable to afford a crib.
“My background was harsh,” Connery has acknowledged. “We were poor, but I never knew how poor till years after.”
“It sounds strange to say it now,” he recalled in an interview with The Scottish Sun, “but we never realized we lacked anything!”
His father worked at a nearby mill, and Connery began working at a young age to help support himself and his family. He began delivering milk at the age of 9 (incidentally, he picked up smoking at about the same age), toting bottles from house to house via horse-drawn cart. At the age of 13, as World War II raged, Connery dropped out of school to work full time and earn his keep at home.
“From the time I started working at 13, I always paid my share of the rent, and the attitude at home was the prevalent one in Scotland ― you make your own bed and so you have to lie on it,” he said in a 1965 interview with Playboy. “I didn’t ask for advice and I didn’t get it. I had to make it on my own or not at all.”
Connery joined the Royal Navy three years later, working as an armorer. Though he signed on for a seven-year stint in the navy, he was discharged after only three, sidelined due to a persistent stomach ulcer.
Following his discharge from the navy, Connery scraped by doing random jobs, working stints as a bricklayer, lifeguard and coffin polisher. He also spent hours at the gym and posed as a nude model from time to time at the Edinburgh College of Art.
Connery’s first acting job came only after his bodybuilding pursuits led him to a Mr. Universe competition in London in 1953. He placed third at the competition, and while there, a fellow bodybuilder mentioned auditions were being held for the play “South Pacific.”