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Sir William Connolly (born 24 November 1942) is a Scottish former comedian, actor, musician, artist and presenter. He is sometimes known, especially in his homeland, by the Scots nickname the Big Yin ("the Big One"). Known for his idiosyncratic and often improvised observational comedy, frequently including profanity, Connolly is regarded as one of the greatest and most influential stand-up comedians of all time, having topped many polls conducted in the United Kingdom.Connolly's trade, in the early 1960s, was that of a welder (specifically a boilermaker) in the Glasgow shipyards, but he gave it up towards the end of the decade to pursue a career as a folk singer. He first sang in the folk rock band The Humblebums with Gerry Rafferty and Tam Harvey, with whom he stayed until 1974, before beginning singing as a solo artist. In the early 1970s, Connolly made the transition from folk singer with a comedic persona to fully-fledged comedian, for which he is now best known. In 1972, he made his theatrical debut, at the Cottage Theatre in Cumbernauld, with a revue called Connolly's Glasgow Flourish. He also played the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. In 1972, Connolly's first solo album, Billy Connolly Live!, was produced, with a mixture of comedic songs and short monologues. As an actor, Connolly has appeared in such films as Indecent Proposal (1993), Pocahontas (1995), Muppet Treasure Island (1996), Mrs Brown (1997) (for which he was nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role), The Boondock Saints (1999), The Last Samurai (2003), Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004), The X-Files: I Want to Believe (2008), Brave (2012), and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014). On his 75th birthday in 2017, three portraits of Connolly were made by leading artists Jack Vettriano, John Byrne, and Rachel Maclean. These were later turned into part of Glasgow's official mural trail. In October that year, he was knighted at Buckingham Palace by Prince William, for services to entertainment and charity. Connolly announced his retirement from comedy in 2018, and in recent years he has established himself as an artist. In 2020, he unveiled the fifth release from his Born On A Rainy Day collection in London, followed by another instalment later that year. During the filming of the ITV documentary Billy Connolly: It's Been a Pleasure, he described how art had given him "a new lease of life". Early life Connolly was born at 69 Dover Street, "on the linoleum, three floors up", in Anderston, Glasgow. This section of Dover Street, between Breadalbane and Claremont streets, was demolished in the 1970s. Connolly refers to this in his 1983 song "I Wish I Was in Glasgow" with the lines "I would take you there and show you but they've pulled the building down" and "they bulldozed it all to make a road". The flat had only two rooms: a kitchen-living room, with a recess where the children slept, and another room for their parents. The family bathed in the kitchen sink, and there was no hot water.Connolly was born to Catholic parents, William Connolly and Mary McLean, both of whom were of partly Irish descent. In 1946, when he was four years old, Connolly's mother left her children while their father was serving as an engineer in the Royal Air Force in Burma. "I've never felt abandoned by her," Connolly explained in 2009. "My mother was a teenager. My father was in Burma, fighting a bloody war. The Germans were dropping all sorts of crap on the town. We lived at the docks, so that's where all the bombs were happening. She was a teenager with two kids in a slum. A guy comes along and says, 'I love you. Come with me.' Given the choice, I think I'd have gone with him. It looks as though it might all end next Wednesday, from where you're standing. I don't have an ounce of feelings that she abandoned me. She tried to survive."Connolly and his older sister, Florence (named after their maternal grandmother, and eighteen months his senior), were cared for by two aunts, Margaret and Mona Connolly, his father's sisters, in their cramped tenement in Stewartville Street, Partick. "My aunts constantly told me I was stupid, which still affects me today pretty badly. It's just a belief that I'm not quite as good as anyone else. It gets worse as you get older. I'm a happy man now but I still have the scars of that." Regarding his sister, Connolly has called her his "great defender". "To this day, he explained in 2009, "Guys say, 'God, your sister... We didn't dare beat you up – your sister was a nightmare'. She used to get after them." In the mid-1960s, Flo was on holiday in Dunoon with her husband and two children. "My mother said, 'I saw Florence walking along, and I followed her.'" "I said, 'Did you speak to her?' 'Oh, no, I didn't,' she said. I thought, 'Oh, my god. It's like being a ghost while you're still alive.' Walking behind your own child. Having a look. I couldn't bear that."The aunts resented the children for the fact that they had to sacrifice their young lives to look after them. It was Mona who was troubled the most by having to care for her niece and nephew. "It was very big of her to take on the responsibility, but having said that, I wish people wouldn't do that. I wish people wouldn't be very big for five minutes and rotten for twenty years. Just keep your 'big' and keep your 'rotten' and get out of my life, because, quite frankly, I would rather have gone to a children's home and be with a lot of other kids being treated the same. To this day, I'm still working on the things she did to me."Connolly credits one of John Bradshaw's publications with helping him deal with his past demons. "He reckons that if this trauma happened to you when you were five or six then, emotionally, that part of you remains five or six. And what you have to do is carry that five- or six-year-old around with you and try and emotionally help that other part of you. It sounds a bit airy-fairy, but I think he's something of a genius, Mr. Bradshaw."Connolly, Sr. returned from the war, a stranger to his children, shortly after the move to Partick. He never spoke to them about their mother's departure. Connolly's biography, Billy, written by wife Pamela Stephenson, documented years of physical and sexual abuse by his father, which began when he was ten and lasted until he was about 15. "Sometimes, when father hit me, I flew over the settee backwards in a sitting position. It was fabulous. Just like real flying, except you didn't get a cup of tea or a safety belt or anything." In 1949, Mona gave birth to a son, Michael, by a "local man". He was presented as a brother to Billy and Flo, and nobody questioned it.Connolly's bedroom had double windows, which directly faced St Peter's Primary School across the street. Now defunct, the school has been converted into living accommodation. "The school was very violent indeed. At first, in the infant school, the nuns were very violent. And then ove.... Discover the Cara Connelly popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Cara Connelly books.

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