Neil Connery is a retired Scottish actor, better known as legendary actor Sir Sean Connery’s younger brother. Born during the Great Depression, Neil was raised in the midst of poverty and crisis. However, he was blessed with an older brother who took the reigns of the household at a young age, supporting the family when their father could not. Neil followed in his brother’s footsteps all his life but could not replicate his success. Be it getting into the army (Sean Connery had served in the ‘Royal Navy’ for 3 years) or creating a ‘Bond’-like persona in his debut film, Neil could never escape Sean’s shadow. Sean shielded Neil from the hardships of being raised in a poor family, making sure Neil did not have to give up on the essential experiences in life. It was only fitting that when it came to stepping into the world of cinema, Neil’s first performance was in ‘O.K. Connery,’ an Italian spin-off of the English ‘James Bond’ franchise (which starred his brother). It is believed that the uncanny similarity between Neil and Sean Connery’s voices, earned Neil his role in ‘O.K. Connery’.
Childhood & Early Life
Neil Connery was born on January 1, 1938, to Joseph Connery and Euphemia McBain, in a not-so-nice area of Edinburgh, Scotland. Their neighborhood was called the “street of a thousand smells,” owing to the stench of paper pulp and breweries in the area.
His father worked in factories and drove a lorry. His mother was a cleaning lady. His older brother, Sean Connery, a mischief-maker, was 8 years senior to him. It is said that Sean often pulled Neil’s pram to the nearby stores to shoplift comics and chocolates by hiding them under his kid brother’s blanket. However, Sean’s childhood days were cut short when their father returned home from Glasgow, where he used to work, with a broken nose and wrist. Neil was still a baby when, at age 12, Sean had to leave school and start working. Though Neil never really felt the pinch of poverty during those tough times, the situation impacted him. He had witnessed the volatile relationship between his father and father-like older brother.
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After Sir Sean Connery’s first ‘Bond’ movie released in 1962, it was Neil’s opportunity to take the plunge. The original ‘Bond’ director Terence Young had heard Neil Connery during a radio interview. He had immediately caught Young’s attention due to the uncanny resemblance of his voice to his actor brother’s.
When Italian director Alberto De Martino came looking for someone to play the great British spy’s brother, Terence Young suggested Neil Connery for the part. Neil ultimately played ‘Dr. Neil Connery’ in ‘O.K. Connery’ (1967). The film was renamed in the US as ‘Operation Kid Brother.’ Ironically, Neil could not dub the movie in his voice due to some medical reasons. Thus, an American voice artist was asked to lend his voice to Neil’s character. Even though the movie received negative reviews from all quarters, it is considered to be the oddest ‘Bond’ spoof among a wide array of similar movies. It had a number of actors from the original ‘James Bond’ movies, such as Adolfo Celi, Daniela Bianchi, Anthony Dawson, and Lois Maxwell, playing their original ‘Bond’ characters, which was unusual for a cast in a spin-off.
In the next few years, Neil was cast in the British science fiction ‘The Body Stealers’ (1969) and in the British sitcom ‘Only When I laugh’ (1980). He was cast in yet another spy movie, ‘Aces Go Places 3,’ in 1984, which became his swan song. It is reported that he worked as a plasterer after his acting career was cut short due to an unfortunate accident.
Years later, in 1997, ‘O.K. Connery’ was featured in one of the episodes of ‘Mystery Science Theatre 3000,’ under an alternative name, ‘Operation Double 007.’
Family & Personal Life
He is married to Eleanor Connery and has two daughters. His mother passed away in 1985. Neil has a nephew, Jason Connery, who is also part of the entertainment industry.