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Patrick Macnee

Patrick MacneeAKA Daniel Patrick Macnee

Born: 6-Feb-1922
Birthplace: London, England
Died: 25-Jun-2015
Location of death: Rancho Mirage, CA
Cause of death: unspecified

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Actor

Nationality: England
Executive summary: Mr. Steed on The Avengers

Military service: Royal Navy (1942-46)

Patrick Macnee was the dashing English actor who played Mr. Steed in the 1960s adventure series The Avengers and the 1970s follow-up The New Avengers. His father was a horse trainer and a very heavy drinker; while his mother was, Macnee said, a direct descendant of the real Robin Hood. She divorced Macnee's father for another woman, so Macnee was raised by his mother and her lesbian lover, whom he referred to as "Uncle Evelyn."

Macnee was expelled from high school for making pornography. He served with distinction in the Royal Navy, then studied acting at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art. He made his film debut with a non-speaking bit part in Michael Powell's The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp. In the 1951 A Christmas Carol with Alastair Sim, Macnee played the young Jacob Marley.

Unable to find enough work in England, he came to Canada and eventually Hollywood, where he became a familiar face in late-50s films, usually playing sinister British types. He became an American citizen in 1959, two years before returning to England to make The Avengers.

The series began in 1961 with utterly serious black-and-white episodes featuring Macnee as sidekick spy to Ian Hendry, who departed after the first season. With Macnee promoted to the program's male lead, The Avengers eventually developed a droll sense of humor as it became the quintessential "spy fi" show of its era. Macnee's Steed was a perfect gentleman, a top-notch spy in a bowler hat, but with a mischievous and irreverent wit, as plots wandered from standard cops-and-robbers fare to battles against super-villains and supernatural quests.

There were other recurring characters on The Avengers, especially in the early episodes, but the best-remembered episodes feature Macnee's Mr Steed alongside a sexy, female counterpart, with whom there might be witty repartee, but never a romantic entanglement. Steed's succession of partners included Ingrid Hafner as Carol Wilson in the first season and Julie Stevens as Venus Smith in the second season, before the show hit its stride with Honor Blackman as Cathy Gale, then Diana Rigg as the inimitable Emma Peel, and for its final season, Linda Thorson as Tara King.

Tapes of the first season were re-used and thus unavailable today, and the program was in color for only its fifth and sixth seasons, so only those late-60s episodes are generally aired in present-day reruns. A pity, as the series was excellent from the second season on, and it was the first prominent action-adventure to envision a woman and man as equal partners, instead of routinely putting the woman in peril, waiting for the man to rescue her.

In the 1970s revival The New Avengers, Macnee's Steed was older, pudgier, and generally supervised younger spies instead of performing his own espionage. After The New Avengers, Macnee kept busy with supporting roles, including an amusing turn as an ally of superspy James Bond in A View to a Kill, and a meatier part in the werewolf classic The Howling with Dee Wallace-Stone. He played Sir Denis Eton-Hogg in This Is Spinal Tap. For the most part, he was wasted in such fluff as Lobster Man from Mars and Thunder in Paradise. In the abysmal 1998 movie of The Avengers with Ralph Fiennes and Uma Thurman, Macnee provided an invisible voice. He has also played Dr. Watson in several Sherlock Holmes TV movies, with Roger Moore and later Christopher Lee as Holmes. Macnee was promoted to Holmes for 1993's The Hound of London.

In the late 1960s, just as jets were beginning to be hijacked, Macnee filmed a public service ad where he spoke the now rather unbelievable line, "It's all right to bring your guns into the airport, but please don't take them onto the plane with you." For this he was later given an award for "preventing terrorism."

He passed away in 2015.

Father: Daniel Macnee ("Shrimp", race horse trainer)
Mother: Dorothea Mary Henry Hastings (lesbian, lover's name Evelyn)
Wife: Barbara Douglas (m. Nov-1942, div. 1956, one son, one daughter)
Son: Rupert Macnee (producer)
Daughter: Jenny Macnee
Wife: Katherine Woodville (actress, b. 1938, m. 1965, div. 1969)
Wife: Baba Majos de Nagyzsenye Sekely Macnee (author, m. 25-Nov-1988, d. 10-Jul-2007)

    High School: Eton College (expelled)
    Conservatory: Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art

    Expelled from School
    Naturalized US Citizen 1959

    Super Force E. B. Hungerford (1990-92)
    The New Avengers John Steed (1976-77)
    The Avengers John Steed (1961-69)

    The Avengers (13-Aug-1998) · Invisible Jones [VOICE]
    Thunder in Paradise (22-Sep-1993)
    Waxwork II: Lost in Time (16-Jun-1992) · Sir Wilfred
    The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw (3-Nov-1991) · Sir Colin
    Masque of the Red Death (27-Oct-1989)
    Around the World in 80 Days (16-Apr-1989)
    Lobster Man from Mars (29-Jan-1989)
    Waxwork (17-Jun-1988) · Sir Wilfred
    Club Med (19-Jan-1986)
    Shadey (Nov-1985)
    A View to a Kill (24-May-1985) · Tibbett
    This Is Spinal Tap (2-Mar-1984) · Sir Denis Eton-Hogg
    Sweet 16 (14-Jul-1983)
    The Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E. (5-Apr-1983)
    Young Doctors in Love (16-Jul-1982)
    Rehearsal for Murder (26-May-1982)
    The Hot Touch (Sep-1981)
    The Howling (10-Apr-1981) · Dr. George Waggner
    The Creature Wasn't Nice (1981)
    Sea Wolves: The Last Charge of the Calcutta Light Horse (3-Jul-1980) · Maj. Yogi Crossley
    Evening in Byzantium (14-Aug-1978)
    King Solomon's Treasure (1977)
    Sherlock Holmes in New York (18-Oct-1976)
    Bloodsuckers (1972)
    Les Girls (3-Oct-1957) · Sir Percy
    The Battle of the River Plate (30-Nov-1956) · Lt. Cmdr. Medley -- R.N.
    A Christmas Carol (28-Nov-1951) · Young Jacob Marley
    The Elusive Pimpernel (6-Feb-1950)
    All Over the Town (2-Mar-1949)

Official Website:

Author of books:
Blind in One Ear: The Avenger Returns (1989)
The Avengers and Me (1997)

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