Patrick Macnee has died. Born in 1922, the English-American actor, who was popular for his role as secret agent John Steed (umbrella-wielding character) in the television series The Avengers, was ninety-three at the time of his death. The Paddington, London native, the son of a horse trainer. On Thursday, he passed away from natural causes in Rancho Mirage surrounded by his family, in statement by his son Rupert,
The clever spy drama, which began in 1961 in Britain, debuted in the United States in 1966. It ran for eight seasons and continued in syndication for decades afterward.
Macnee’s umbrella-wielding character appeared in all but two episodes, accompanied by a string of beautiful women who were his sidekicks. The most popular was likely Diana Rigg, who played sexy junior agent Emma Peel from 1965 to 1968. Honor Blackman played Catherine Gale from 1962 to 1964, and Linda Thorson was Tara King from 1968 to 1969.
“We were in our own mad, crazy world,” Macnee told the Wichita Eagle in 2003 when “The New Avengers” was being issued on DVD. “We were the TV Beatles. We even filmed in the same studio.”
But while he made his name internationally playing a smart, debonair British secret agent, Macnee was never a fan of the “James Bond” movies.
“I think their stories aren’t that realistic,” he told Salt Lake City’s Deseret News in 1999. “I think the sadism in them is horrifying. … On the other hand, the books — the ‘James Bond’ books — were fascinating.”
Macnee was also an extra in the 1938 film “Pygmalion.” and at the age of nineteen he wed Barbara Douglas, they had two children together, Rupert and Jenny.
At one time in his career, he went to Canada to find jobs,
“I did desert my family,” he admitted to the Sunday Mail. “I left when my son Rupert was five and my daughter Jenny was three, and I will always feel bad about that.”
Although Macnee was away from the family for a long period when his children were young, Rupert Macnee said,
“he made up for it later in life.”
“I was a teenager when he became a TV star in England,” recalled his son, a documentary filmmaker. “He was one of those dads you didn’t feel ashamed to introduce to your friends. He was very cool.”
He was also married to Kate Woodville and to Baba Majos de Nagyzsenye. He became an American citizen, moving onto Palm,
saying the dry desert air benefited his daughter, who suffered from asthma.
Among his films: “Hamlet” (starring Laurence Olivier), “A Christmas Carol,” “Until They Sail,” “Les Girls,” “Young Doctors in Love,” “Sweet 16″ and “This Is Spinal Tap.” He had a memorable comic turn in the latter film as British entrepreneur Sir Denis Eton-Hogg.
Before “The Avengers,” he had appeared in such TV shows as “Twilight Zone,” “Rawhide” and “Playhouse 90,” among many others.
The Avengers made gave him most of his fame,
He explained why in his interview with the Deseret News:
“It’s a very simple reason: It’s extremely good. I feel very justified and delighted in seeing after all these years that the show works.”