William "Billy" Connolly, Jr., CBE (born 24 November 1942) is a British comedian, musician, presenter and actor born in Scotland. He is sometimes known, especially in his native Scotland, by the nickname The Big Yin (The Big One). His first trade, in the early 1960s, was as 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 in the Humblebums and subsequently as a soloist. In the early 1970s he made the transition from folk-singer with a comedic persona to full-fledged comedian, a role in which he continues. He also became an actor, and has appeared in such films as Indecent Proposal (1993); Mrs. Brown (1997), for which he was nominated for a BAFTA; The Boondock Saints (1999); The Man Who Sued God (2001); Water (1985);The Last Samurai (2003); Timeline (2003); Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004); Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties (2006); and The X-Files: I Want to Believe (2008). Connolly reprised his role as Noah "Il Duce" MacManus in Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day. Connolly appears as the King of Lilliput in the 2010 remake of Gulliver′s Travels.
Connolly was born at 69 Dover Street ("on the linoleum, three floors up" "at six o'clock in the evening") in Anderston, Glasgow, to William Connolly and his wife Mary (McLean) Connolly, a hospital cafeteria worker. Connolly's grandfather was an Irish immigrant. In 1946, when he was barely four years old, Connolly's mother abandoned her children when his father was still away in the army. Connolly and his sister, Florence, were cared for by two aunts, Margaret and Mona Connolly, his father's sisters. His biography, 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 fifteen.
"Twice in my life, two birds have flown in and made a huge difference," explained Connolly in 1996. When he was seven, the Connolly family went to Rothesay on holiday. He was sent to get some milk and bread rolls. On his way back with his hands full, a bird landed on his head. Connolly immediately thought God had called him and "nearly had a coronary". "It was a jackdaw, and I didn't know you could teach jackdaws to speak. But I was walking along, and this thing landed on my head and said hello. I nearly passed away. I learned subsequently that it was a tame bird, and we became friends and I got used to the idea: the bird would land on me and I was quite happy. My life had changed forever." Connolly said the second "bird" was Brett Whiteley, an Australian artist he met through Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits in the 1980s.