The Truth About Sean Connery's Bodybuilder Past

Thomas Sean Connery might have abandoned his first name, but he never forgot his roots growing up in Scotland. Born and raised in the Fountainbridge area of Edinburgh, Scotland (he named his movie production company, Fountainbridge Films, in honor of his home neighborhood), the future Sir Sean grew up poor, in a poor area known for the unpleasant air — "the street of a thousand smells," according to his entry at Biography, tainted with the "stench" produced by a nearby rubber factory and several neighborhood breweries. He was known as Tommy, big for his age, and with a father who spent his low wages on gambling and alcohol, and a mother slaving as a laundress, it's no surprise he dropped out of school at 13 to work full-time delivering milk for a local dairy co-op.

He joined the Navy but was discharged early for stomach ulcers. Back home in Scotland, he worked odd jobs, took dancing lessons, polished coffins, and decided to become a bodybuilder, reports The Scotsman.

Connery (in white) represented Scotland in a Mr. Universe competition

Connery was 18 when he first started the sport. After a couple of years he saved up enough to train with a professional named Ellington, a former gym instructor with the British Army, says Vintage News Daily. After two years of professional guidance, Connery stepped into the world of bodybuilding competitions, including the Mr. Universe contest in London.

The year of the competition is debated. Connery claimed it was 1950, but most sources agree it was 1953. Enduring Aesthetics relates that by 1953 there were two possibilities: professional and amateur. The future Bond — James Bond — put his hard-earned physique on display representing Scotland in the Tall Man division — Connery was 6'2" at the time. Enduring Aesthetics reports the 22-year-old's measurements at 200 pounds, with a 48 inch chest, 25 inch thigh, and arms at 15.25 inches. Despite all that (and all the hard work it took to build those numbers), Connery failed to place in any of the top six spots.

He might not have had a career pumping iron, but no doubt it didn't hurt for a lifetime in front of the cameras.

Connery died in his sleep October 31, 2020, at the age of 90.