Happy 90th birthday Sir Sean Connery, Edinburgh's son and Scotland's greatest film star

HE is Edinburgh’s most famous son, the first and, for many, the best James Bond and if local folklore is to be believed, he delivered milk to almost everyone in the Capital back in the day.

By Liam Rudden
Tuesday, 25th August 2020, 7:29 am
Sir Sean Connery, the first James Bond 007
Sir Sean Connery, the first James Bond 007

Tomorrow, Scotland’s greatest screen legend, Sir Sean Connery, marks another milestone in an already eventful life as he celebrates his 90th birthday.

Now domiciled in the Bahamas with Micheline, his wife of 45 years, Sir Sean may have confirmed that he was retiring from acting in 2006 after accepting the American Film Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award, but he remains one of the most iconic figures in the world of cinema.

His journey started on 25 August 1930, in Fountainbridge. Born Thomas Sean Connery, the son of a cleaner and a factory worker, he left school, Bruntsfield Primary, at the age of 12. Known as ‘Big Tam’ (as a teenager he was already 6ft 2in tall) he joined the Royal Navy at just 16.

The young Sean Connery prepares to go on stage

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    Three years later, he left a life at sea behind and undertook numerous jobs before turning to acting as a career. Those jobs included coffin polisher, lorry driver, lifeguard at Portobello swimming baths, labourer and, most famously, as an artist’s model posing naked at Edinburgh College of Art. However, it’s as a milkman with the Co-op that many in Edinburgh remember him. Everyone growing up in the city at that time has a story about Big Tam it seems, whether it be delivering their milk, seeing him at Palais De Danse or having a relation who was in his class at school.

    A keen footballer - the young Connery played for Bonnyrigg Rose - and bodybuilder, it was, however, the stage that won him over and set him on the road to stardom. One of his first jobs, a role in the musical South Pacific, brought him back to The King’s, where he had once helped out backstage.

    Numerous films followed but it was being cast as Ian Fleming’s James Bond in the 1962 blockbuster Dr No that proved his breakthrough into the big time. He returned as 007 a further six times, in From Russia with Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, Diamonds Are Forever and Never Say Never Again. Coincidentally, one of the stops on his milk round had been Fettes College, where Fleming was schooled.

    Other notable films on his CV include The Untouchables, for which he won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘suspenseful sex thriller’ Marnie and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

    Sir Sean Connery and family in Edinburgh

    Known for cutting a dash in his often action-packed movies it came as no surprise to fans when in 1989, as he turned 60, he was voted the Sexiest Man Alive. In 1999, at nearly 70, he added the title Sexiest Man of the Century to his accolades.

    Visiting home in 1991 provided Sir Sean with a very special recognition of his place in the Capital’s heart when he was presented with the Freedom of the City. Thousands lined the streets to get a sight of the film star as he arrived at the Usher Hall.

    Over the years, he has frequently returned to the Capital, often to coincide with the Edinburgh International Film Festival, of which he was a long-standing patron and on 5 July 2000, he was knighted by the Queen at Holyrood Palace.

    Today, as he celebrates another landmark birthday, the Evening News raises a glass on behalf of all our readers to one of our ain: “Happy 90th Birthday, Sir Sean.”

    The knighting of Sean Connery at Holyrood Palace

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    Sir Sean Connery at the King's Theatre, Edinburgh

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