Sean Connery hairpiece page

Sean Connery during the filming of Wrong Is Right (1982) with Robert Conrad, Katherine Ross and Leslie Nielsen. In the movie, Connery would take off his hairpiece and toss it away.

One of the most famous bald actors of the past 60 years was Sean Connery (b. 1930).

Connery was the first film James Bond. His 007 debut in Dr. No unleased a spy craze that would last most of the decade.

However, Connery’s Bond was a bit thin on top. at least when it came to hair. In an early scene for Dr. No (1962), Connery’s Bond extracted a hair from the top of his hair so he could he tell if an enemy had entered his Kingston hotel room.

For the actor, it was a sacrifice to ensure realism for his performance.

This page will take a closer look.

On the Fiddle/Operation Snafu (1961)

Sean Connery (right) with Alfred Lynch in On the Fiddle/Operation Snafu

This 1961 comedy, produced by S. Benjamin Fisz and edited by Peter Hunt helped get Connery the James Bond role. Hunt told Dr. No co-producer Harry Saltzman about Connery.

Meanwhile, Dr. No’s other co-producer, Albert R. Broccoli discovered Connery via the Walt Disney 1959 movie Darby O’Gill and the Little People. Connery briefly sang during that film. He’d do the same in Dr. No when Bond first meets Honey Rider (Ursula Andress).

Regardless, in On the Fiddle, Connery has a really, really full head of hair. Was it all his? Were there hair supplements? Hard to tell.

Dr. No (1962)

Sean Connery playing with Ursula Andress during filming of Dr. No. (via Thunderballs.org)

Connery was cast as James Bond in 1961 by Dr. No producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman. It might have been one of the last things they agreed on during a long, argumentative partnership.

While filming in Jamaica, Connery’s hair seemed, well, a bit thin already in some behind-the-scenes photos (he was 31 during the production).

Connery’s film debut as  Bond featured a fuller head of hair. Here’s an example:

Dr. No gets his Walther PPK from Major Boothroyd in Dr. No

The conventional wisdom is that Connery never wore a hairpiece (or had hair supplements) in a Bond film until Goldfinger (1964). You can be the judge.

From Russia With Love (1964)

Dr. No was a hit. So the Broccoli-Saltzman team, backed by United Artists, quickly got production underway for a second Bond film.

The decision was easy. U.S. President John F. Kennedy had included From Russia With Love as one of his 10 favorite books.

Still, there were some signs that the Bond star’s hair was still getting thinner. For example, there’s this publicity still where Connery had a combover.

Sean Connery and Daniela Bianchi in a publicity still for From Russia With Love

Connery had a different look in the movie itself.

Marnie (1964)

Connery was hired by the master of suspense himself, Alfred Hitchcock for 1964’s Marnie. He was second-billed behind “Tippi” Hedren.

This movie is Connery’s first full-fledged use of a hairpiece. Personally, I would argue it was when Connery was best photographed in a motion picture.

Sean Connery in Marnie

Meanwhile, production of Goldfinger began while Connery was working on the Hitchcock movie.

Goldfinger (1964)

The actor may, or may not, have realized that James Bond was about to become a worldwide phenomenon.

Regardless, the actor’s hairpiece wasn’t one of his best.

Iconic publicity still for Goldfinger with Sean Connery leaning against the Aston Martin DB5.

It’s a cliche now, but Connery’s hairpiece for Goldfinger did resemble a dead animal on his head.

At the time, though, nobody cared. Goldfinger was a case of catching lightning in a bottle. The movie made Bond a global icon. Nobody was paying much attention to Connery’s hairpiece.

The Hill (1965)

Sean Connery, eager to escape the shadow of James Bond, starred in The Hill, a 1965 very serious drama set in a British prisoner of war camp. It would be the first of a series of films with the actor paired with director Sidney Lumet.

You could tell it was a serious film because Connery had no hairpiece.

Sean Connery in The Hill

In October, 1965, Connery was the first of two mystery guests on the popular CBS television show What’s My Line? At the time, he was filming A Fine Madness in New York. For the show, Connery had a combover.

The What’s My Line? panelist who correctly guessed Connery’s identity was Martin Gabel. Gabel was the real-life husband of panelist Arlene Francis. Martin Gabel also was in the cast of Marnie.

This episode of What’s My Line? was aired live the Sunday before The Hill’s premiere in New York City.

Meanwhile, audiences were yet to see the Biggest Bond of All.

Thunderball (1965)

James Bond (Sean Connery) dons an organge wetsuit as Agent 007 prepares to check out Emilo Largo’s yacht, the Disco Volante.

After Goldfinger had been a worldwide hit, Thunderball was guaranteed of being a big success at the box office.

Sean Connery’s fourth film adventure as James Bond would require durable hairpieces, capable of withstanding the strain of filming underwater scenes.

The actor’s hairpieces have a flat look and don’t seem anything like the ones he wore a year earlier in Goldfinger.

Connery had help from underwater doubles but he still had to film close-ups in various underwater locations.

Behind the scenes, Connery was tiring of the role. During production, he gave an interview to Playboy where he seemed to counting the days when he’d get out of the six-picture contract he originally signed to play Bond.

A Fine Madness (1966)

Sean Connery in A Fine Madness

After Thunderball, Sean Connery went for a change of pace in A Fine Madness (the movie he was filming during his 1965 What’s My Line? appearance).

The movie was a comedy and Connery played a poet “irresistible to women, but plagued by writer’s block,” according to the film’s IMDB.COM entry.

The film was hardly the big, adventure film that Thunderball was. But apparently it had a better budget for hairpieces compared with James Bond films. This movie’s hairpiece provides Connery his best look since Marnie.

However, Connery’s respite from Bond would be short-lived. His next Bond outing would require two hairpieces.

You Only Live Twice (1967)

Sean Connery as James Bond in You Only Live Twice, sporting a new hairpiece.
Sean Connery’s Bond impersonating a Japanese man, including a new hairpiece.

You Only Live Twice…and Twice is the only way to live — especially when it came to hairpieces in Sean Connery’s fifth James Bond film.

The script by Roald Dahl didn’t use a lot from Ian Fleming’s 1964 novel. But Dahl’s screenplay did call on Bond to impersonate a Japanese man.

That meant that Connery got two basic hairpieces — his basic Bond toupee and another that was part of the impersonation. By the climax of the film, the Japanese impersonation has been forgotten amid a huge action sequence set at SPECTRE’s volcano headquarters in Japan.

Meanwhile, the production of the film had a lot of tension. Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman tore up Connery’s original six-picture deal in return for a big raise for You Only Live Twice. But Connery was adamant this was his Bond finale.

The video below includes highlights from a BBC documentary. Around the 1:58 mark, Connery can be seen donning his Japanese hairpiece.

Here’s a screen capture from that video. Connery (without hairpiece) chatting with production designer Ken Adam (both of whom would win Oscars in their respective fields). As far as I know, they never had a contest who had the most body hair.

Sean Connery and Ken Adam during production of You Only Live Twice.

When the film came out, Connery made an appearance without either hairpiece from You Only Live Twice. The actor was beginning a new chapter — or so it seemed.

Sean Connery at You Only Live Twice primere (Alamy Stock photo)

Shalako (1968)

Sean Connery in Shakalo (1968)

The Broccoli-Saltzman team moved on from Connery and produced On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969), arguably the Eon’s team most faithful adaptation of an Ian Fleming novel.

Sean Connery, Eon’s original star, meanwhile did a Western film, Shalako. The movie had a notable director, Edward Dmytrk, and Connery had a famous co-star, Brigitte Bardot. And the script was based on a story by Louis L’Armour.

From a hairpiece standpoint, the filmmakers evidently felt Connery still needed a toupee. So, Connery wore one for Shalako. It’s a decent look (although Connery has a lot of scenes wearing a cowboy hat).

The actor still had some work to do in establishing his post-Bond identity.

The Molly Maguires (1970)

Sean Connery in The Molly Maguires

The Molly Maguires was a drama set in 1870s Pennsylvania. The title refers to a group of Irish coal miners fighting against oppressive conditions and sabotaging mines.

The movie was headlined by Richard Harris and Connery, the latter playing Jack Kehoe, the leader of the Molly Maguires. Connery has a hairpiece but also sports a mustache.

The film was directed by Martin Ritt, photographed by James Wong Howe with music by Henry Mancini. Despite the talent in front and behind the camera, The Molly Maguires wasn’t a success at the box office.

The Anderson Tapes (1971)

Sean Connery as Duke Anderson in The Anderson Tapes

Sean Connery reunited with director Sidney Lumet for the story of a planned heist. The star is clean shaven again, but this time goes without a hairpiece.

Duke Anderson gets out of prison after 10 years “for taking the rap for a scion of a Mafia family, he cashes in a debt of honor with the mob to bankroll a caper,” according to the film’s plot summary on IMDB.COM.

What Anderson doesn’t know is that the police have gotten more sophisticated with surveillance during the decade he was in prison. Those are the tapes of the title.

Meanwhile, Connery was about to return to his most famous role.

Diamonds Are Forever (1971)

After one film, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, George Lazenby’s James Bond career was over. Producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman signed John Gavin as his successor for Diamonds Are Forever

United Artists executive David Picker had other ideas. He wanted Sean Connery, no matter the cost. So Gavin was paid off. Connery got a salary of $1.25 million (huge at the time), a hefty percentage of the profits, guaranteed overtime pay if the film exceeded its schedule and UA’s commitment for future non-Bond film. (Only one, The Offence, was made under the deal.)

There were stories published at the time the movie came out that Connery had been picky about his hairpiece. The actor, who was 40 durng production, said he intended to play Bond as an older character. (Evidently this slipped by Skyfall director Sam Mendes when he claimed he was the first to have Bond be older.)

As a result, Connery’s hairpieces were thinned out.

None of this mattered. Diamonds was a hit. The marketing emphasized Connery above all else, as seen in the trailer above.

However, Connery always intended his return to be a one-picture event. Broccoli and Saltzman were soon again searching for a Bond actor.

And Connery? He had new areas to explore in the 1970s and early 1980s. A sampling follows.

The Offence (1973)

Sean Connery as a burned-out police detective in The Offence.

Sean Connery again teamed up with director Sidney Lumet for The Offence, a drama about a burned-out English police detective who finally snaps after years on the job.

As noted above, this was the one non-Bond movie Connery made under his United Artists deal to make Diamonds Are Forever. Some Connery fans say it’s the best performance of his career. The Irish News evaluated the movie in a Sept. 19, 2020 story.

By now, Connery is establishing his post-Bond look: Showing more scalp (hairpiece or not) and sporting some form of facial hair (a mustache, sometimes more).

Zardoz (1974)

Yes, Connery really did dress like this in Zardoz

When it comes to Zardoz, you really had to be there. I saw it on first run in the theaters.

In terms of hair, Sean Connery added a ponytail to his look.

Rather that explain the movie any more, here’s the trailer.

Zardoz aside, Connery’s basic 1970s look continued. Sometimes he wore a hairpiece, sometimes not, but he sported facial hair. And he worked with some noteable directors while doing so.

Among those films: Murder on the Orient Express (1974), with Connery playing one of the many murder suspects and again working with director Sidney Lumet; The Wind and the Lion (1975), directed by John Milius, with Connery in a full beard; The Man Who Would Be King (1975), directed by John Huston (Connery with no hairpiece); The Next Man (1976), directed by Richard C. Sarafian, with Connery as an Arab diplomat; A Bridge Too Far (1977), directed by Richard Attenborough, with Connery as a British military officer in a massive all-star film; The Great Train Robbery (1978), directed by Michael Crichton; and others.

In the early 1980s, however, Connery deviated from that basic 1970s look and hairpieces would be part of that.

Time Bandits (1981)

Sean Connery as King Agamemnon in Time Bandits

Time Bandits, directed by Terry Gillium and written by Gillium and Michael Palin, concerned a young boy who ends up with time traveling dwarves.

The boy ends up meeting with King Agamemon, played by Connery. For this film, Connery is depicted with more hair than he ever had naturally.

The King isn’t a huge role. But the actor said in a U.S. television interview (I think it was on ABC’s 20/20) that in Europe actors will take a small part if it’s interesting.

Time Bandits certainly was interesting, if not conventional. And Connery was memorable. Supposedly, the script’s stage directors read that King Agamemon was “revealed to be Sean Connery or an actor of similar but cheaper stature.”

Connery also played a second part, that of a fireman, near the end of the movie.

Wrong Is Right (1982)

Wrong Is Right, directed and scripted by Richard Brooks, is a satirical movie with dark humor. It concerns issues still relevant today, such as nuclear weapons, terrorism, Middle Eastern wars.

In the film, Sean Connery is a television reporter. He has a hairpiece that makes it look as if the reporter has bangs. It’s part of the joke, poking fun at the show business aspects of television news.

Here’s the key scene of the movie, where Connery tosses away his hairpiece.

However, Connery was about to cross paths with an old (fictional) friend

Never Say Never Again (1983)

Cover to the Never Say Never Again soundtrack, featuring one of the main Sean Connery publicity stills of the actor.

More than a decade after stepping away from the role of James Bond, Connery returned. Except this time he would not be working for producer Albert R. Broccoli.

Kevin McClory held the film rights to Thunderball. He cut a deal with Broccoli and his then-partner Harry Saltzman for 1965’s Thunderball to be part of the Eon Productions film series. McClory agreed to do nothing more for 10 years.

McClory then attempted to launch a new movie with his rights but got into legal fights with Eon. Eventually, a one-time film industry lawyer named Jack Schwartzman became involved. It was Schwartzman who got the project on track. The major step was getting Connery on board.

Never Say Never Again essentially is a Thunderball remake. In 1971, Connery didn’t want his Diamonds Are Forever hairpieces to be too full. But apparently he changed his mind for Never Say Never Again. Bond’s supposed hairline in the movie doesn’t show the slightest signs of receding.

1983 was billed as the “Battle of the Bonds.” Eon’s Octopussy was first out of the gate in the summer of that year. The Schwartzman Never Say Never Again debuted in the fall.

Never Say Never Again apparently wasn’t a happy production. Years later, on a CBS newsmagazine, there was video of Connery referring to a “really incompetent producer” on Never Say Never Again. The problem was Schwartzman ceded a lot of power to his star.

Some Bond fans say Never Say Never Again is good except for the script and the music. But writers chosened by Connery did an uncredited rewrite. And the actor recruited composer Michel LeGrand.

Connery as a star still had it. Connery as a de facto producer? Not so much.

UPDATE (Oct. 9, 2020): The tweet below has some behind-the-scenes photos of Never Say Never Again production where Connery didn’t wear his hairpiece.

A BUSY 20 YEARS

Sean Connery was now done with James Bond on a live-action basis. (He’d provide Bond’s voice for a 2005 video game based on From Russia With Love.)

But the actor most certainly was not done being a movie star, either as the leading man or important supporting role. For the next two decades, Connery would support a variety of looks, sometimes with hairpiece, sometimes not.

What follows are some significant examples. This is not intended as a comprehensive look at the last 20 years of his live-action career.

Highlander (1986)

Sean Connery and Christopher Lambert in Highlander

Connery plays Ramierz (born Egyptian), who trains Connor MacLeod (Christopher Lambert). Both are immortal who can only perish if they beheaded. Various immortals duel at times. Ramierz falls in battle with another immortal. MacLeod, though, takes possession of Ramierz’s sword.

The movie is another example of how Connery’s hairpieces tended to be better in his non-Bond films.

The Name of the Rose (1986)

Sean Connery as a 14th century monk.

Sean Connery is a 14th century monk investigating the murders of other monks. He not only has no hairpiece much of his remain hair is cut back to look the part.

The Untouchables (1987)

The actor went without a hairpiece in the supporting role of Jim Malone, but picked up an Oscar. Here’s a clip where Malone tells Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner) about “the Chicago Way.”


The Untouchables also led to Connery winning an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

Professor Henry Jones and Professor Henry “Indiana” Jones Jr. have a chat in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

Sean Connery, not yet 60, was cast as Professor Henry Jones, the father of Indiana Jones in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

However, the actor was only 12 years older than Harrison Ford, who first played Indiana Jones in 1981’s The Raiders of the Lost Ark. This time out, Connery would have to play “older,” while Ford, well into his 40s, looked as athletic as ever.

Besides the lack of a hairpiece, Connery’s remaining hair was mostly gray, including a neatly trimmed beard. He added glasses to complete the look.

The Hunt for Red October (1990)

Sean Connery gets top billing in The Hunt for Red October.

Enough of that supporting actor stuff. Sean Connery was ready to seize top billing in The Hunt for Red October as a Soviet submarine captain.

The film featured the Tom Clancy hero, Jack Ryan. But in this movie, Alec Baldwin, who played Ryan, would settle for second billing.

Connery is back with a hairpiece, but a fairly conservative one. Its gray matches his beard.

The Russia House (1990)

Sean Connery and Michelle Pfeiffer in a publicity still for The Russia House

Sean Connery, of course, became a star playing James Bond, a character who was part of the escapist school of spy fiction.

With The Russia House, Connery would star in a film based on a novel by John Le Carre, whose novels (and the movies and TV mini series adapted from them) represented the more realistic, moody, ambiguous, etc. end of the spectrum.

Ironically, Connery’s hairpiece is more in the James Bond mold. The actor has a goatee, so it’s not a total Bond look by any means. But it is interesting on some level.

Medicine Man (1992)


Poster for Medicine Man

In this film, Sean Connery is a researcher who has been working in the Amazon rain forest seeking a cure for cancer. Here he not only sports a hairpiece but also a ponytail.

Rising Sun (1993)

Sean Connery with Wesley Snipes in Rising Sun

Rising Sun was based on a Michael Crichton novel and directed by Philip Kaufman, who helmed unusual takes on material such as the U.S. space program (The Right Stuff) and science fiction (the 1970s remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers).

Rising Sun is a thriller. Both the novel and film came at a time many Americans feared Japan’s economy was eclipsing that of the U.S. The Dissolve has an article about why the novel and film were controversial in their day.

Connery and Wesley Snipes as a pair of detectives who get drawn into a major case. Connery’s hairpiece seems to be inspired by Moe Howard of the Three Stooges.

I should note that a friend of mine complained about me comparing Connery’s hairpiece to Moe Howard. He says that Michael Crichton envisioned Connery and even partially named his character after the actor.

I replied I wasn’t reviewing either the novel or movie, just Connery’s hairpiece. And it’s terrible. You have one of the biggest stars of the 20th century. Why bother with a hairpiece in the first place. Meanwhile, for those not familiar with the Three Stooges, an image of an aging Moe Howard is below.

Not Sean Connery

A Good Man in Africa (1994)

Connery is back to playing a supporting role and has no hairpiece. Meanwhile, Diana Rigg also has a supporting role. Bond fans imagine what On Her Majesty’s Secret Service would have been like with Connery in it. Personally, I don’t think they’d have cast Rigg to play opposite Connery. But, hey, this trailer gives you something to wonder about. Trivia: The movie is based on a novel by William Boyd, who did a Bond continuation novel in 2013.

First Knight (1995)

Sean Connery is King Arthur! That wasn’t the actual ad slogan but by 1995 Connery was still going strong. This telling of the legend of the Round Table was directed by Jerry Zucker, once known primarily for comedic/parody movies such as Airplane but who sought new directions for his work.

The Rock (1996)

Connery plays a James Bond-like character who’s been stuck in prison but whose help is now needed. While the character evokes Bond, Connery’s hairpiece and beard provide a different look.

The Avengers (1998)

Sean Connery gets to play a villain for a change! And the movie is based on a fondly remembered British TV show that further became a hit when it was imported into the U.S.

What could go wrong?

Well, Connery’s villain has found a way to control the weather, something taken directly from Our Man Flint (1965). Also, rather than being colorful and quirky (like the show) it’s tedious and dreadful. But Connery again sports a gray hairpiece. Here’s the trailer.

I haven’t seen the movie since it came out in 1998. But I was reminded how bad it was by this recent review by Calvin Dyson, who specializes in James Bond (and Bond-related) YouTube videos.

Entrapment (1999)

Connery was still playing lead characters (paired with much younger actresses) as he approached his 70s. Entrapment was released a few months before the star’s 70th birthday.

In Entrapment, he plays Mac, a master thief, being pursued by Gin, a character played by Catherine Zeta-Jones (born 39 years after he was). Or is he trying to trap her?

For the movie, Connery dons a hairpiece similar to a number of his 1990s films. You can check out the trailer below.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003)

Sean Connery in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was a project that had negative vibes from the start. I remember seeing it in the theater first run. But it may be one of those movies where the behind-the-scenes drama is more compelling than what’s on the screen.

The movie was based on a comic book series by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill. Set in Victorian times, characters such as Allan Quatermain, Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde and the Invisible Man join forces to stop threats to the British Empire.

Moore is a famously quirky writer. He has done stories that deconstruct the entire super hero genre such as the Watchmen. Even when dealing with more conventional stories, his spin can be pretty dark. In 1986, he wrote a “last Superman story” ahead of a reboot DC Comics was planning.

In Moore’s tale, Jimmy Olsen, Lana Lang, Pete Ross, Lex Luthor and Brainiac all perish. Even Krypto, the super dog, died, albeit while ripping out the throat of the Kryptonite Man. Meanwhile, Superman violates his oath not to kill and depowers himself forever.

Moore, these days, has little good to say about comics. He withheld his name from the film adaptation of Watchmen.

Meanwhile, adpative The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen proved difficult.

Sean Connery reportedly feuded with director Stephen Norrington. The production suffered from delays and other problems. A 2002 story in Entertainment Weekly described the unhappy production. In 2011, a website called Box Office Prophets did a retrospective that concluded the movie caused Connery to quit acting.

Connery was cast as Quatermain and he’s the leader of the Extraordinary Gentlemen. He wears his more or less standard 1990s hairpiece with a gray beard.

This video from the archives of The Associated Press reflects how the movie wasn’t a pleasant experience. Connery wasn’t in a good mood when it was time to promote the film.

Epilogue

With The League of Extraordinary Gentleman, Sean Connery’s days as a movie star were over.

The actor continued to pick up the occasional job, including voicing James Bond in the 2005 video game based on From Russia With Love. It was an odd experience, with the image of a Bond in his 30s having a voice of man in his 70s.

A fourth Indiana Jones movie was made. But if Connery got an offer, he declined. His only appearance was in the form of a picture on the office desk of Indiana Jones. Professor Henry Jones had passed away.

In August 2020, the actor turned 90. Hopefully, he’s enjoying his retirement.

A definitive assessment of Connery as an actor and as man is somewhere in the future.

Oct. 31, 2020: Sir Sean Connery dies at his home in the Bahamas. You can view obituaries in The Spy Command, The New York Times, Variety, the BBC, CNN and CBS News.

March 2021: A video appears on YouTube that puts Sean Connery’s face on Henry Cavill’s body in a scene from The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (2015). Obviously not a hairpiece but it’s so weird looking I couldn’t resist putting here.

The End of the Sean Connery hairpiece site.

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