Billy Connolly

On this date in 1942, Billy Connolly was born in Glasgow, Scotland. His early years were difficult; his mother abandoned him and his sister Florence when Connolly was 4 and their father was away with the army. In the 2001 biography Billy, written by Connolly’s second wife, Pamela Stephenson, Connolly described being sexually abused by his father between the ages of 10 and 15. Connolly was raised Catholic and blames the Catholic Church’s prohibition of divorce, at least in part, for his sexual abuse. After high school graduation he worked as a welder in a shipyard.

In the mid-1960s he started performing as a folk singer in the duo “The Humblebums.” After the breakup of the duo, Connolly began to perform solo and transitioned from a singer who told long comedic stories to a comedian who sometimes sang funny songs. Connolly’s comedy became very popular throughout Britain in the mid-1970s. In 1969 he had married Iris Pressagh and they had two children. Connolly’s involvement with show business and his problems with drugs and alcohol ended the marriage in 1985. He married Stephenson in 1989 after they had three daughters together.

In 1990, after featuring in an HBO standup special with Whoopi Goldberg, his popularity in America grew. He was cast in the sitcom “Head of the Class” in the 1990-91 season and moved with his family to Los Angeles. Connolly has since been featured as a character actor in many television and movie productions, as well as continuing his career as a comedian. Much of his comedy is idiosyncratic and irreverent. He uses profanity freely and jokes about many of the more difficult, abusive experiences of his childhood. He also takes many potshots at religion, especially Catholicism. 

Freedom From Religion Foundation