One of the few movie "superstars" truly worthy of the designation, actor Sean Connery was born to a middle-class Scottish family in the first year of the worldwide Depression. Dissatisfied with his austere surroundings, Connery quit school at 15 to join the navy (he still bears his requisite tattoos, one reading "Scotland Forever" and the other "Mum and Dad"). Holding down several minor jobs, not the least of which was as a coffin polisher, Connery became interested in bodybuilding, which led to several advertising modeling jobs and a bid at Scotland's "Mr. Universe" title. Mildly intrigued by acting, Connery joined the singing-sailor chorus of the London roduction of South Pacific in 1951, which whetted his appetite for stage work. Connery worked for a while in repertory theater, then moved to television, where he scored a success in the BBC's re-staging of the American teledrama Requiem for a Heavyweight. The actor moved on to films, playing bit parts (he'd been an extra in the 1954 Anna Neagle musical Lilacs in the Spring) and working up to supporting roles. Connery's first important movie role was as Lana Turner's romantic interest in Another Time, Another Place (1958) -- although he was killed off 15 minutes into the picture.
After several more years in increasingly larger film and TV roles, Connery was cast as James Bond in 1962's Dr. No; he was far from the first choice, but the producers were impressed by Connery's refusal to kowtow to them when he came in to read for the part. The actor played the secret agent again in From Russia With Love (1963), but it wasn't until the third Bond picture, Goldfinger (1964), that both Connery and his secret-agent alter ego became a major box-office attraction. While the money steadily improved, Connery was already weary of Bond at the time of the fourth 007 flick Thunderball (1965). He tried to prove to audiences and critics that there was more to his talents than James Bond by playing a villain in Woman of Straw (1964), an enigmatic Hitchcock hero in Marnie (1964), a cockney POW in The Hill (1965), and a loony Greenwich Village poet in A Fine Madness (1966).