Date of Birth: November 24, 1942
Born in Glasgow, Billy Connolly left school early to become a welder in the Glasgow shipyards, then went on to serve in the parachute regiment of the Territorial Army. Billy began his showbiz career as a musician, playing banjo as one half of the Humblebums, a duo with Gerry Rafferty. His first solo concert in 1971 led to The Great Northern Welly Boot Show, a mix of music and talk that won considerable acclaim. He went on to release a double album and a #1 hit single, "D.I.V.O.R.C.E." However, his musical career began to take a back seat to his comic monologues to the point where he became known as a comedian first and foremost. He achieved widespread notoriety in his native Scotland before becoming a household name in England after appearing on The Michael Parkinson Show in the early 1970s. He first came to the attention of American audiences in 1990 when he joined the cast of the popular WB sitcom, Head of the Class. The show led to his character, Billy MacGregor, spinning off into his own sitcom, aptly titled Billy.
From there, Connolly began to land small roles in major films such as Indecent Proposal (1993), starring Robert Redford. Since then, his film career has burgeoned and he has had the opportunity to act with some of the most prestigious names in cinema, including Richard Burton, Michael Caine, Mel Gibson, Liam Neeson, Willem Dafoe and others, but it was the award-winning film Mrs. Brown with Dame Judi Dench that won him international recognition as an actor. Connolly continues to work non-stop with roles in White Oleander (2002) starring Michelle Pfeiffer, Timeline (2003) and The Last Samurai (2003) starring Tom Cruise.
Married twice, Connolly has two children with his first wife, Iris Pressagh, and three children with his present wife, Pamela Stephenson, whom he married in 1989. In 2003 Connolly was appointed a Commander of the British Empire (CBE). He continues to tour as a comedian throughout the world, and made headlines in October 2004 when he was criticized for making a joke about British hostage Ken Bigley. Bigley was one of three men kidnapped in a group by Islamist militant groups. After the first two men were beheaded, Bigley was seen on video pleading for his life. The London News Review was just one of the news sources that reported that Connolly joked onstage at London's Hammersmith Apollo, "Perhaps I shouldn't be saying this... aren't you the same as me, don't you wish they would just get on with it?" Bigley was beheaded soon after, and Connolly refused when journalists asked him to apologize for his distasteful remarks.
Despite the media mishap,Connolly went on to land more film roles in films like Open Season (2005) and its 2008 sequel in which he voiced the character McSquizzy, The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day (2009), Gulliver's Travels (2010) and the voice of Fergus in the 2012 Disney/Pixar production Brave (2012). He also stars alongside Elijah Wood, Orlando Bloom and Evangeline Lilly in Peter Jackson's highly-anticipated 2012 film The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey as well as alongside veteran actors Maggie Smith and Michael Gambon in Quartet (2013). More recently, he starred in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014).
Filmography:The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)