Born Thomas Sean Connery in Edinburgh's Fountainbridge area on August 25 1930, the actor left school at an early age and took his first job as a milkman before working as a bricklayer.
At 16 he enlisted in the Royal Navy but was discharged three years later on medical grounds after suffering a stomach ulcer.
His first major step into acting came in 1957 when he secured a role in the British gangster film No Road Back.
He has two tattoos from this time - one reading 'Mum and Dad' and another 'Scotland Forever'.
The keen bodybuilder then undertook a variety of jobs, including a stint as a bricklayer, a lifeguard and an artist's model for the Edinburgh College of Art.
Under the name Thom Connery he was placed third in the tall man's division (he was 6ft 2in) of the 1950 Mr Universe contest.
The stage came calling when a friend suggested he try out for a production of South Pacific. He got a part in the sailors' chorus and so began his acting career.
Born Thomas Sean Connery in Edinburgh's Fountainbridge area on August 25 1930, the actor left school at an early age and took his first job as a milkman. Pictured: Connery as a young man in 1945
Sir Sean, whose movie career spans five decades, is best known for being the first to portray the role of British fictional spy 007 who he played between 1962–1971. Pictured: Connery as Bond in Doctor No in 1962
A poignant last photo of James Bond legend Sir Sean Connery, who has died in his sleep at the age of 90, showed him posing with his son Jason on his 89th birthday. Pictured left: Jason's partner Fiona Upton
1957: Margaret Rawlings and Sean Connery in No Road Back, a British crime film that was directed by Montgomery Tully
1962: Eunice Gayson and Sean Connery as the first James Bond in a scene from the film Dr No, directed by Terence Young
1963: Connery in the film From Russia with Love, the second in the James Bond Series produced by Eon Productions
He was also a gifted footballer. While touring with the musical, he was offered a contract by former Manchester United manager Sir Matt Busby, who saw him play in a friendly against a local side.
His first major acting credit came in 1957 British gangster film No Road Back.
It was author Ian Fleming's suave and sophisticated secret service agent that launched Sir Sean to stardom.
Fleming was initially resistant to the idea of Sir Sean playing his character. He thought the Scot was an 'overgrown stuntman' who was not refined enough for the role.
He was later so impressed with his performance that he created a Scottish ancestry for the character in his subsequent books.
Sir Sean played Bond in seven films - Dr No (1962), From Russia With Love (1963), Goldfinger (1964), Thunderball (1965), You Only Live Twice (1967), Diamonds Are Forever (1971) and Never Say Never Again (1983).
He quit the role after You Only Live Twice, frustrated by the repetitive plots, but was enticed back after his successor George Lazenby failed to make the grade.
Most of his subsequent successes were as part of ensemble casts, in films such as The Man Who Would Be King, Murder On The Orient Express and A Bridge Too Far.
In the 1980s a slipping career was revived with The Untouchables (1987), with his role as a tough gangbusting Irish policeman winning him an Academy Award for best supporting actor. Future Oscar winners Morgan Freeman and Denzel Washington were also nominated in the category that year.
He is also fondly remembered for his part two years later as the father of Harrison Ford's whip-cracking hero in Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade, the third instalment in the hugely popular franchise.
Sir Sean could by now command massive fees and gained a reputation as a ruthless contract negotiator. He hated the idea of being manipulated by the film industry and was regularly embroiled in lawsuits.
In 1989 the US magazine People voted him Sexiest Man Alive, to which the 59-year-old replied: 'Well, there aren't many sexy dead men, are there?'
The 1990s brought performances in The Hunt For Red October (1990), Dragonheart (1996) and Entrapment, the 1999 love story/thriller with Catherine Zeta-Jones, which Sir Sean also produced.
By now he was firmly regarded as an elder statesman of the film industry and in 2000 was knighted by the Queen - an honour said to have been delayed by his vocal support for the Scottish National Party (SNP).
Sir Sean, once voted the 'greatest living Scot', received the American Film Institute's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006, when he confirmed his retirement from acting.
Throughout his career he remained relatively guarded about his private life but was forced to deny claims of domestic abuse made by his first wife, the Australian actress Diane Cilento, before her death in 2011.
At 16 he enlisted in the Royal Navy (shown left in naval uniform in 1945) but was discharged three years later on medical grounds after suffering a stomach ulcer. Right: A young Sir Sean, also in 1945
Sir Sean is seen above aged 5 in 1935 with his pet dog. The actor grew up in Edinburgh's Fountainbridge area
Sir Sean is also seen above with his mother in 1932, when he was aged just two. Tributes have poured in after news emerged of the acting legend's death
He was plagued by criticism of remarks he allegedly made in a Vanity Fair interview in 1993 when he suggested there were women who 'want a smack'.
Sir Sean was reported as saying: 'There are women who take it to the wire. That's what they are looking for, the ultimate confrontation.'
He and Cilento were married for 11 years and had one son, the actor Jason Connery.
Sir Sean is succeed by Jason and his second wife, French artist Micheline Roquebrune, whom he married in 1975 and who regularly accompanied him on the red carpet.
In 2009 he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Edinburgh Napier University for the achievements throughout his career.
He appeared relaxed and in good health during his last public appearance, when he turned out to support fellow Scotsman Andy Murray at the US Open in September 2012.
The tennis star was shocked when Sir Sean and Sir Alex Ferguson gatecrashed a post-match press conference in New York and posed for pictures with him and his mother Judy.
As one of the most high-profile supporters of Scottish independence, many expected Sir Sean to make an appearance on the campaign trail in the run-up to the historic vote on September 18 2014.
His words were used to galvanise support at the launch of the Yes campaign two years previously, when the star declared in a message: 'The people of Scotland are the best guardians of their own future.'
1964: Connery starring in Goldfinger, the third installment in the James Bond series and based on the 1959 novel
1989: Harrison Ford and Connery in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, which was directed by Steven Spielberg
Sir Sean as Major General Robert E Urquhart in 1977 film A Bridge Too Far, which was directed by Richard Attenborough
Sean Connery driving an Aston Martin in the Goldfinger Bond in Motion exhibition at the London Movie Museum in Britain
1964: Connery as Mark Rutland and Tippi Hedren as Marnie Edgar in the film Marnie, directed by Alfred Hitchcock
1965: Claudine Auger standing with Connery in the water in a scene from the film Thunderball, the fourth in the Bond series
1967: Mie Hama and Connery pictured in You Only Live Twice, the fifth in the James Bond series produced by Eon Productions
1971: Connery starring as Bond in Diamonds Are Forever, the seventh film in the series and directed by Guy Hamilton
1974: Connery and Vanessa Redgrave starring in the film Murder on the Orient Express, based on an Agatha Christie novel
1975: Michael Caine and Connery seen being overwhelmed by water in a scene from the film The Man Who Would Be King
1977: Connery as Major General Roy Urquhart in the film A Bridge Too Far, directed by Richard Attenborough
1983: Connery is seen playing the fictional spy James Bond during the making of the 1983 film Never Say Never Again
1986: A scene from the film The Name of the Rose, in which Connery took on the role of William of Baskerville
1986: A scene from the film Highlander, showing Connery as Juan Ramirez, an Egyptian swordsman who is immortal
1987: Charles Martin Smith, Kevin Costner, Connery and Andy Garcia in the American crime film The Untouchables
1990: Connery as Marko Ramius in The Hunt for Red October, an American submarine spy-thriller film
1996: Connery pictured with Nicolas Cage in The Rock, an American action thriller film directed by Michael Bay
1999: Connery pictured as Robert MacDougal with Catherine Zeta Jones as Virginia Baker in a scene from the film Entrapment
2003: Shane West and Connery in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which was directed by Stephen Norrington