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Patrick Macnee Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (3)  | Trade Mark (3)  | Trivia (30)  | Personal Quotes (28)  | Salary (1)

Overview (5)

Born in Paddington, London, England, UK
Died in Rancho Mirage, California, USA  (natural causes)
Birth NameDaniel Patrick Macnee
Nicknames Patty Nee
Pat
Height 6' 1" (1.85 m)

Mini Bio (1)

British actor Patrick Macnee was born on February 6, 1922 in London, England into a wealthy and eccentric family. His father, Daniel Macnee, was a race horse trainer, who drank and gambled away the family fortune, leaving young Patrick to be raised by his lesbian mother, Dorothea Mary, and her partner. Shortly after graduating from Eton (from which he was almost expelled for running a gambling ring), Macnee first appeared on stage and made his film debut as an extra in Pygmalion (1938). His career was interrupted by World War II, during which he served in the Royal Navy. After military service, Macnee attended the Webber Douglas School of Dramatic Art in London on scholarship. He also resumed his stage and film career, with bit parts such as Young Jacob Marley in A Christmas Carol (1951). Disappointed with his limited roles, Macnee left England for Canada and the United States.

In 1954, he went to Broadway with an Old Vic troupe and later moved on to Hollywood, where he made occasional television and film appearances until returning to England in 1959. Once back home, he took advantage of his producing experience in Canada to become co-producer of the British television series Winston Churchill: The Valiant Years (1960). Shortly thereafter, Macnee landed the role that brought him worldwide fame and popularity in the part of John Steed, in the classic British television series The Avengers (1961). His close identification with this character limited his career choices after the cancellation of the series in 1969, prompting him to reprise the role in The New Avengers (1976), which, though popular, failed to recapture the magic of the original series. During the 1980s and 1990s, Macnee became a familiar face on American television in such series as Gavilan (1982), Empire (1984), Thunder in Paradise (1994) and NightMan (1997). In the past decade, Macnee has also made several audio recordings of book fiction.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Lyn Hammond

Spouse (3)

Baba Majos de Nagyzsenye (25 February 1988 - 10 July 2007) ( her death)
Katherine Woodville (29 March 1965 - 1969) ( divorced)
Barbara Douglas (November 1942 - 1956) ( divorced) ( 2 children)

Trade Mark (3)

Chilly but mellifluous voice, often used to menacing effect
The role of John Steed on The Avengers (1961).
Often played menacing, sinister villains.

Trivia (30)

Became a United States citizen in 1959. In addition to his acting career, Macnee worked as a television producer in Britain, the United States and Canada. He is considered to be one of the pioneers of Canadian television.
He had two children from his first marriage to Barbara Douglas: Rupert Macnee and Jenny Macnee.
He was born, the elder of two brothers, to a wealthy and extraordinarily eccentric English-Scottish family. In 1925, aged 3, he and his family moved to College House in Lambourn, Berkshire. As his father (Daniel Macnee), a race horse trainer, had drank and gambled the family's money away, his mother (Dorothea Mary, nee Henry; died November 29, 1984) took young Patrick to live with her female lover, Evelyn, in a huge mansion in southern England, where he wore kilts until the age of 11. He was encouraged to call his mother's partner, who paid for his schooling through Eton, as "Uncle Evelyn".
During his run on The Avengers (1961), Macnee's only weapon was an umbrella sword; he was rarely if ever seen carrying or using a gun. Macnee has stated in interviews that he insisted on this, because he had seen enough carnage in combat during his military service in World War II.
He was forced to retire from acting due to problems with arthritis, but could still do voiceover work.
Was expelled from Eton for bookmaking.
He was the last surviving cast member of Hamlet (1948).
Has played the role of Algernon Moncrieff in three different television productions of Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest".
Was considered for the roles of Dr. Hans Fallada, Sir Percy Heseltine and Dr. Armstrong in the science fiction horror film Lifeforce (1985).
Best known by the public for his starring role as Secret Agent John Steed on The Avengers (1961).
He was an avid nudist. Honor Blackman claimed that he once invited her to play tennis in the nude. She politely declined.
Acting mentor and friends with Diana Rigg.
Played a knighted character various times; Sir Percy in Les Girls (1957), Sir John Raleigh in The Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E.: The Fifteen Years Later Affair (1983), Sir Denis Eton-Hogg in This Is Spinal Tap (1984), Sir Godfrey Tibbett in A View to a Kill (1985), Sir Cyril Landau in Shadey (1985), Sir Geoffrey Rimbatten in Lime Street (1985), Sir Wilfred in Waxwork (1988) and Waxwork II: Lost in Time (1992), Sir Colin in The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw (1991), and Sir Thomas Matthews in Family Law (1999).
He is one of three main avengers (the others being Honor Blackman and Diana Rigg) to appear in a "James Bond' film. He played "Sir Godfrey Tibbett" in A View to a Kill (1985).
For many years he smoked 80 cigarettes a day and drank a bottle of Scotch whisky every night. He was forced to give up drinking after being diagnosed with liver disease in the mid-1980s.
His remains were cremated in Cathedral City, California's Desert Memorial Park, but has a cenotaph in that cemetery.
He was the only actor to appear in every episode of The Avengers (1961).
His maternal grandmother was Frances Alice Hastings, who was the daughter of Vice-Admiral George Fowler Hastings and granddaughter of Hans Francis Hastings, 12th Earl of Huntingdon.
He passed away on June 25, 2015, at age 93, just 2 days after [Dick Van Patten], and within one year of three other television legends, also born in 1922, either 92 or 93: [Ellen Vogel], [Haskell Wexler] (who also shared the same birthday with Macnee) and [Lizabeth Scott].
He had 7 hobbies: golfing, spending time with his family, gardening, reading, swimming, playing tennis and horse riding.
When asked which [The Avengers (1961)] female lead was his favorite, Macnee declined to give a specific answer, when he already provided his evaluation of the female leads.
His 1st ex-wife, [Barbara Douglas], had died on July 10, 2012, just 2 days before her 91st birthday.
After his passing, he did not want to have a funeral.
In 1929, when young Patrick was 7, the Macnee's were separated when Daniel went to India to take up an appointment at the Bombay racecourse, while Dorothea and her son Patrick moved to live with Evelyn at Rooksnest.
His parents, who were 19 years apart, Dorothea Mabel married Daniel Macnee, in June 1920, nearly 2 years before Patrick was born.
He was a spokesperson for Sterling Motor Car Company in 1991.
Not yet awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
He made his acting debut with the Bradford Reportary Theatre.
In WWII he was a naval commander on MTB's 1942 -46.
He was considered to voice Dr. Dawson in The Great Mouse Detective (1986).

Personal Quotes (28)

[on Linda Thorson] I would have liked her to learn how to act. It was going from a very great height. If you listen to her, you can never hear the end of a sentence. You'd never catch Diana Rigg, not being able to hear what she said.
[on the film version of Sleuth (1972)] It's bad because you really can't make a film with only two people in it. Let me put it another way: a suspense film with only two people in it. Particularly when they didn't take the trouble to make Michael Caine look unrecognizable. Immediately after they put his first close-up on, you knew it was Michael Caine. Doesn't that ruin the whole point?
[on Bond novels] The books are written completely on the basis of Ian Fleming, who was a sadomasochist.
[on Citizen Kane (1941)] It isn't that great, anyway. And Orson Welles I knew well, of course. He made other incredible films that no one would let him make, which were much better than Citizen Kane, really.
[on Laurence Olivier's performance in Sleuth (1972)] The thing about Olivier, he was too big, you see? He was trying to be a little like that man should be, which is a little sort of upper class, probably a repressed homosexual. I think that the wife obviously led him a pretty dance. Olivier missed all of these points. I was rather good at that because I was able to get all of the subtlety out of the fact that he must have had a miserable life with the wife because he was a closet queen, you know?
[on Patrick McGoohan] Pat is one of the best actors there's ever been. Trouble was, he drank. So it limited his career.
[on the danger of being typecast] I know the part of Steed was created for me, and it was developed from my own background and personality, but I'm still a long way from being typecast. I suppose, though, that you could describe me as an unashamed romantic. I really think I'd have enjoyed the life of a Regency buck.
I loved Ingrid Bergman. I sat and saw her on the stage in a theater in the round. I'm looking at an armchair, which from where I'm sitting now is about 2 foot (away). I saw in this circular theater in Chichester in a play by Somerset Maugham, Ingrid Bergman with a dress on which was her naked back down to just before her buttocks, you know? And I could reach out and touch them if I wanted to. That's probably the most erotic thing I've ever seen in my life - Ingrid Bergman walking around in a theater-in-the-round in a backless dress, not long before she died.
[on Alec Guinness] The whole thing about Guinness was, of course, was that he was a closet - but not all that closet - homosexual. There's so much of all that coming out, as though it makes a difference to their talent - which it basically doesn't. But Guinness had a problem, because most people thought he was heterosexual - because he was married and had a son - but basically he was homosexual. So many people have had that, what they call "problem".
In the year 1960, which I think was when the Bond films started, somebody said, when I was in Canada, when I was preparing to do The Avengers (1961), they said, "Will you read the Bond stories by Ian Fleming to get an idea of your character?". And I read it and said, "I would like to play, and in fact, I will not be in the show at all unless I can play, the part completely opposite to James Bond." I find James Bond repulsive, sadistic and, of course, we now read the life of Ian Fleming and realize that he liked smacking women's bottoms more than anything else. Just read it.
[on the screenwriters of The Avengers (1961)] There was no good writing, there was no clever dialogue. Di [Diana] Rigg and I used to write all our scenes because it was so badly written. They were written as rather ordinary thrillers, to be honest. The writers chose very clever topics, like having a robot man way before people thought of robots, etc. But what we really did, and I say 'we' advisedly, was to see what would happen if we took these perfectly straight stories and then made them ever so slightly ludicrous - because we thought that life was ludicrous anyway, which it is! To stay alive and all, you have to be slightly mad - but you also had to be basically cool. We used that, we tilted it a bit, we made it funny and the show worked.
[on the possibility of an Avengers movie, 1984 interview] Brian Clemens produced such a bad script for it two years ago that CBS turned it down. I think other people are keen to do so. But I wouldn't be keen to do it, no. That was a thing of its time, it was a thing of the '60s and we were ahead of our time. It was lovely then, but now I say let's do something in the '80s that is ahead of its time. If I'm going to do a series, I want it to be new.
Honor wanted to learn how to handle a gun properly for her role as Cathy so I took her to see a friend of mine who used to belong to the French Resistance in Marseilles. He thought the clothes were wonderful too!
(On the character of Cathy Gale) This woman is so formidably modern that Steed is going to feel more old fashioned than ever.
The role of this tough and highly professional undercover man, whose Secret Service activities are hidden behind a wealthy and debonair man-about-town facade, was created specially for me and has been developed to fit my own background and personality. Many of Steed's tastes and habits of speech are mine; others are dream projections of the man I would like to be. I am an unashamed romantic who would have thoroughly enjoyed the life of a Regency buck. Steed is dedicated, ruthless, unscrupulous. His mission is all-important and in his eyes its success justifies whatever methods he has to use. Unlike his co-avenger Cathy Gale, he carries none of the obvious symbols of his vocation, such as a gun holster. In fact he uses a gun infrequently. When tackling thugs he fights like a cad and uses every dirty trick in the book. His guiding principle is to knock them out with the least inconvenience to himself.
Let's say Steed is a slightly exaggerated version of myself. Somebody once said to me, 'You should have lived in the 18th century'. I agree. Like Steed, I'm a great pretender. Anybody who loves the good life like I do has to be a pretender.
John Steed is a wolf with the women and he revels in trouble. He doesn't think so much about saving hoodlums as just getting them out of the way. By the same token, he doesn't follow the Queensbury rules, and although he works indirectly with the police, he is not too popular with them.
I wanted Steed to drive a Bentley Continental or a Maserati, or something modern and lovely of a different make. It was put to the office. So what do I end up with? This so-called beautiful old car which is nothing but a nuisance...you can't change gears in it, you have problems with the clutch, you go backward instead of forward, and apart from that, it doesn't go far.
(On Elizabeth Shepherd) Elizabeth is very beautiful. She has a cleft chin and I love cleft chins.
When the next series of The Avengers (1961) ends, my wife Catherine and I want to get into the car and drive to all the vineyards we love best. That would take us first to the Champagne district in the north of France... then we would motor down to the banks of the Loire to see the Pouilly Fuissé cellars. Across to Bordeaux and a taste of the Graves wines which are found there. If time permits, we would drive down to Portugal and the Douro region where they make port. Perhaps I might be able to locate a bottle of 1927 Quinta do Nuval. A real prince of ports, that one. John Steed would appreciate it to the full.
Steed's things are light and flipperty-gibbet. I use the Edwardian look-it's different. I have a number of peculiar likes and dislikes. They mean a lot but I can't give reasons for them. I've chosen my clothes on my own instinct completely.
It's all due to the girls. Two completely independently-minded, absolutely wonderful females have been the success of The Avengers (1961)-or at least a great part of it.
Today, seven years on, I feel that The New Avengers (1976) has a fresh validity; the timing is perfect for a whole new series. But if I had been asked any time in the past seven years to do it, I can assure you I would have refused. For me, a most exciting thing about the old Avengers is its recent apparent discovery by American youth. It has become a cult thing in the colleges. There are 83 episodes of the series with Di and Linda which are currently showing in some American city every day of the week. From this, you will assume I must be vastly wealthy from the repeat fees. Not so. Down in the small print on the contract there is a clause that says no repeat fees will be paid unless it is shown in more than 20 places at the same time. This time, just in case, I've looked very closely at the small print...
I base Steed on a combination of Leslie Howard's Sir Percy Blakeney in The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934), a performance by Ralph Richardson in a 1936 film called Clouds Over Europe (1939) - and on my father.
I want to outlaw ties. Useless garments. Nasty, dangly, stringy things. Serve no purpose at all. I wear them as little as possible. Ties are simply symbols of conformity. Cravats have flair, masculinity. You won't find a tie in my wardrobe.
The New Avengers (1976) sort of sneaked up on me. Last year, I was in a play at Chichester Festival and on the very last day I had to travel to Elstree Studios, Hertfordshire, to do a Champagne commercial for French television. It was an Avengers-style commercial, mainly featuring Linda Thorson (who's a big name in France) and I was only there as a kind of reminder of The Avengers (1961). They kept on at me to do my lines in French, which I find difficult. Time was getting late, and I had a 100-mile drive to catch the curtain at Chicester. I was just dashing out of the door when a tall Frenchman called Rudolf Roffi asked me if I'd like to do The Avengers again. I rushed past him saying: 'I certainly can't do it in French.' I forgot all about it until six weeks later when Brian Clemens rang me at the Schubert Theatre in Chicago, where I was playing in Absurd Person Singular. He said it was no joke - The Avengers was going to be done again and they wanted me in it. I said send me a script. They never did. I didn't see a script until I came back to Britain. My daughter Jennie was very suspicious at first. She said there must be some kind of catch. But when I did get some scripts I realised that they were better than ever before. And there we were, doing it. Now it's almost as if I've never been away.
John Steed operates dangerously in the 20th century; his heart is in the 18th century.
I figure that it's just nice to be recognised. Not perhaps, as a movie star, but more as an old piano that sits in the corner of a room, and they've grown accustomed to it being there. Our Avengers series have all generated that kind of warmth. They have been that kind of show.

Salary (1)

Police Surgeon (1960) £150 a week

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