Regular Cast Biography
by David K. Smith
Born 6 February 1922 in London, England, to a wealthy and extraordinarily eccentric family, Patrick Macnee (who pronounces his last name "MACK-knee") spent much of the first eleven years of his life wearing kilts. As his father, a race horse trainer, drank and gambled the family's money away, his lesbian mother and her lover raised Patrick.
His film career began in 1943 while he was serving in the Royal Navy, and it might have ended abruptly at that point as he was nearly killed. On the one occasion he did not set sail on his ship owing to illness, the ship was blown out of the water. After nearly being expelled from Eton for running a gambling ring, he attended the Webber Douglas School of Dramatic Art in 1949.
Steady work in the U.K. was not forthcoming, and so he decided to investigate the thriving film industry in Canada, leaving his wife and two children in London. In 1954 he came to Broadway with the Old Vic troupe, and eventually hit Hollywood, working sporadically in film and television, playing mostly what he referred to as "villainy in a tri-corner hat." In the process he'd fallen out of touch with his wife and children, something he deeply regrets to this day.
Returning to Britain around 1959, Patrick landed an opportunity to co-produce a TV series entitled Winston Churchill - The Valiant Years. Two years later, Sydney Newman was about to make television history with a new TV series entitled The Avengers, and made Patrick an offer he couldn't refuse. Although Patrick wanted to continue producing, Sydney convinced the starving artist to accept the role of John Steed. He remained the sole continuous cast member throughout the series' lengthy, on-again off-again history.
Afterward he returned to America and spent some time living as a beach bum, then went on to appear in countless television shows and films, mostly in light comic roles. He also penned a few books, voiced Jack Higgins stories on audio cassette, and narrated quite a number of video series on ghosts, UFOs and other supernatural phenomena. A birdwatcher (both the feathered and human varieties), Macnee received an award from the Bureau of Federal Aviation for preventing terrorism on aircraft.
Macnee's father was Daniel Macnee; his mother, Dorothea Mary Henry. His first wife was Barbara Douglas; married November 1942, divorced 1956. Children from this marriage were Rupert (a TV producer) and Jenny. His second wife was Catherine Woodville (Dr. Keel's fiancée in "Hot Snow"); married 1965, divorced 1969. His third wife is Baba Sekely (Baba Majos de Nagyzsenye), married February 1988; he became a grandfather that same year. By the way, apparently David Niven is not Patrick's cousin, contrary to many tales. Considered by many to be the "consummate British actor," he has actually been an American citizen since 1959.
The one and only John Steed died on 25 June 2015 at the age of 93 at his home in Rancho Mirage, California. See Patrick Macnee's Official Homepage for more information.
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