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Billy Connolly

Billy Connolly

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Also Known As: William Connolly Jr. Died:
Born: November 24, 1942 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: United Kingdom Profession: comedian, actor, singer, playwright, musician (banjo player), delivery boy, welder, oil rig worker

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Famous in the United Kingdom as a musician and groundbreaking stand-up comic since the 1970s, Scottish entertainer Billy Connolly did not hit the American radar until he was showcased on "Whoopi Goldberg and Billy Connolly in Performance" (HBO, 1990). He spent a season as Howard Hesseman's replacement on the sitcom "Head of the Class" (ABC, 1986-1991) before he was given his own short-lived series, "Billy" (ABC, 1991-92), while at the same time, touring relentlessly, charming audiences in the British Isles, Australia and New Zealand - all locations where he made a series of successful tour documentaries for the BBC. His boisterous, animated physical style and off-the-cuff vulgarity eventually caught on with American audiences and he toured the United States more regularly, becoming a familiar sight on late night talk shows. As an actor, Connolly revealed a dramatic side with his BAFTA-nominated performance as a confidante of Queen Elizabeth in "Her Majesty, Mrs. Brown" (1997), and also had memorable character roles in such diverse fare as "The Last Samurai" (2003), "Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events" (2004) and "The X-Files: I Want to Believe" (2008). Seemingly able to do it all and...

Famous in the United Kingdom as a musician and groundbreaking stand-up comic since the 1970s, Scottish entertainer Billy Connolly did not hit the American radar until he was showcased on "Whoopi Goldberg and Billy Connolly in Performance" (HBO, 1990). He spent a season as Howard Hesseman's replacement on the sitcom "Head of the Class" (ABC, 1986-1991) before he was given his own short-lived series, "Billy" (ABC, 1991-92), while at the same time, touring relentlessly, charming audiences in the British Isles, Australia and New Zealand - all locations where he made a series of successful tour documentaries for the BBC. His boisterous, animated physical style and off-the-cuff vulgarity eventually caught on with American audiences and he toured the United States more regularly, becoming a familiar sight on late night talk shows. As an actor, Connolly revealed a dramatic side with his BAFTA-nominated performance as a confidante of Queen Elizabeth in "Her Majesty, Mrs. Brown" (1997), and also had memorable character roles in such diverse fare as "The Last Samurai" (2003), "Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events" (2004) and "The X-Files: I Want to Believe" (2008). Seemingly able to do it all and succeed, the multi-talented Connolly continued his long and varied career well into the 21st century.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

3.
 Brave (2012)
4.
5.
 Open Season 2 (2009)
8.
 Man Who Sued God, The (2007) Steve Myers
9.
 Fido (2006)
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Raised by his aunts (paternal) when his parents' marriage ended
1957:
Dropped out of school at age fifteen
1960:
Began five-year apprenticeship as a welder at the Glasgow shipyards
:
Joined the Parachute regiment of the Territorial Army
1965:
Formed the two-man folk group The Humblebums with Tam Harvey; later joined by Gerry Rafferty
:
Began performing comedy between songs
1971:
Disbanded The Humblebums; began solo career
1972:
Co-wrote (with Tom Buchan) the musical play "The Great Northern Welly Boat Show"; won praise at the Edinburgh Fringe
1972:
Released first solo album <i>Billy Connolly Live!</i>
1973:
Breakthrough album, <i>Solo Concert</i>; featured one of Connolly's most famous comedy routines "The Crucifixion"
1975:
Breakthrough performance on the BBC's "Parkinson" hosted by Michael Parkinson; told a now famous joke about a man who had murdered his wife
1975:
Made TV acting debut in the BBC movie "Just Another Saturday"
1976:
Appeared in the documentary feature "Big Banana Feet" based on his comedy tour
1976:
Appeared as the opening act for Elton John's U.S. tour
1977:
Launched the U.K. tour "The Billy Connolly Extravaganza"
1977:
Scripted first play "An' Me Wi' A Bad Leg Tae"
1978:
Appeared in Scottish Opera's production of "Die Fledermaus"
1979:
Invited by producer Martin Lewis to join the cast of "The Secret Policeman's Ball"; also co-wrote screenplay
1985:
Performed at the Wembley leg of Live Aid, immediately preceding Elton John
1986:
Visited Mozambique to appear in a documentary for Comic Relief
1990:
Co-starred with Liam Neeson in the feature film "The Big Man"
1990:
Made American TV debut, playing teacher Billy MacGregor on the final season of ABC's "Head of the Class"
1990:
Featured in the HBO special "Whoopi Goldberg and Billy Connolly in Performance"; cited as the moment that officially launched his career in the States
1991:
Headlined the HBO special "Pale Blue Scottish Person"
1992:
Reprised role of Billy MacGregor for the short-lived ABC spin-off series "Billy"
1994:
Launched the 40-date "World Tour of Scotland"; later aired on BBC
1997:
Portrayed John Brown, Queen Victoria's (Judi Dench) Scottish servant in the British drama "Mrs. Brown"; earned a BAFTA nomination
1998:
Offered fine supporting turn as a gay tennis pro in Stanley Tucci's "The Impostors"
1999:
Essayed the role of Il Duce for writer-director Troy Duffy's "Boondock Saints"
2000:
Co-starred with Sharon Stone in writer-director Stephen Metcalffe's little-seen "Beautiful Joe"
2000:
Played the mad wig salesman The Scalped in director Barry Levinson's offbeat misfire "An Everlasting Piece"
2001:
Joined writer-director Chris Ver Weil's ensemble "Who is Cletis Tout?"
2002:
Cast in crucial role of Barry Kloker in "White Oleander"
2003:
Appeared as Prof. Edward Johnson in director Richard Donner's adaptation of Michael Chrichton's bestseller "Timeline"
2003:
Cast opposite Tom Cruise in Edward Zwick's "The Last Samurai"
2004:
Portrayed Uncle Monty in "Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events," based on the best-selling children's books by Daniel Handler
2006:
Cast in the animated comedy "Open Season" with Martin Lawrence and Ashton Kutcher
2007:
Played the title role of a domesticated zombie in the Canadian feature film "Fido"
2008:
Played Father Joseph Crissman in "The X-Files: I Want to Believe," the second feature based on the popular series
2009:
Reprised Il Duce role in "The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day"
2010:
Co-starred with Jack Black in a modern-day remake of "Gulliver's Travels"
2012:
Voiced King Fergus in Disney Pixar animated feature "Brave"
2012:
Cast as Dain Ironfoot in "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," based on the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien and directed by Peter Jackson
2012:
Played a retired opera singer opposite Tom Courtenay, Pauline Collins, and Maggie Smith in "Quartet," Dustin Hoffman's directorial debut
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

St Gerard's Secondary School: -
St Peter's Primary School: -

Notes

A friend of many of the "royals," Connolly told The Boston Globe (July 24, 1997) that when he mentioned to Prince Charles he was going to do a film version of the Queen Victoria/John Brown story, the heir to the throne (and direct descendant of Victoria) said, "How embarrassing!" to which Connolly replied, "You'll like it. It's all about passion." As for the Scottish view of John Brown, Connolly told The Boston Globe, "In Scotland, he's loved. He's looked on as 'one of our guys nailed the queen! Yes!'".

"By the time my father died [in 1989] I hadn't cleared anything up with him, despite my best efforts. I think I might have made things worse, actually. But it worked on stage. Pain and funny are so closely related. At times when I was pretending to cry on stage, I would actually cry, you know, I would get carried away in the rhythm of it and actually cry. And people in the audience would spot it, a big tear falling down my face. It was immensely painful stuff but very funny. It was a dark, dark period, though incredibly fulfilling. It felt cleansing and true. Best of all, I knew the audience had never stuff like this from a comedian. Because I had never seen stuff like this. And if I hadn't, they hadn't." --Connolly to the London Times, August 10, 1997

"F*** false modesty. I'm the biggest because I'm the best. I'm the winner in a field of one. Nobody can do what I do, and I'll do it till I die. ..." --Connolly in the London Times, August 10, 1997

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Iris Pressagh. Interior decorator. Lived together from c. 1965; married on June 27, 1969; separated in 1981; divorced in 1985.
wife:
Pamela Stephenson. Actor. Born on December 4, 1950 in New Zealand; appeared together in 1981's "The Secret Policeman's Other Ball"; lived together from 1981; married in Fiji on December 20, 1989; mother of Connolly's three youngest children; formerly married to actor Nicholas Ball; wrote biography of Connolly that was published in the UK in 2001.

Family close complete family listing

father:
William Connolly. Engineer. Divorced from Connolly's mother in 1946; died in 1989.
mother:
Mary Connolly. Hospital canteen worker. Divorced Connolly's father in 1946; remarried to William Adams; had four additional children; died c. 1993.
aunt:
Mona Connolly. Helped raise Connolly and his sister.
aunt:
Margaret Connolly. Helped raise Connolly and his sister.
sister:
Florence Connolly. Younger.
son:
Jamie Connolly. Born in December 1969; mother, Iris Pressagh; Connolly was award custody in the divorce.
daughter:
Cara Connolly. Born in 1974; mother, Iris Pressagh; Connolly was awarded custody in the divorce.
daughter:
Daisy Connolly. Born on December 31, 1983.
daughter:
Amy Connolly. Born in 1986.
daughter:
Scarlett Layla Connolly. Born c. 1988.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"Billy Connolly" Pan Books
"Billy Connolly: Gullible's Travels"
"The Big Yin: The Life and Times of Billy Connolly" Orion Books
"The Funny Side of Billy Connolly" Orion Books
"Billy" HarperCollins
VIEW COMPLETE BIBLIOGRAPHY

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