- Category : Actor
- Type : MGE
- Profile : 1/3 - Investigating / Martyr
- Definition : Split - Small (8,20,33,42,51,52)
- Incarnation Cross : RAX The Vessel of Love 1
- Birth Year: 1928
- Birthday: 19. March
- Birthplace: New York, USA - New York
- Category: Actor
- Profile: 1-3
- Type: Emotional Manifesting Generator
- Inc.Cross: The Vessel of Love 1
- Definition: Double Split - Small (8,20,33,42,51,52)
- Variables: BRL-MRL
- 0515 Rhythm
- 3536 Transistoriness
- 3955 Emoting
- 2145 The Money Line
- 2946 Discovery
Patrick Joseph McGoohan (19 March 1928 – 13 January 2009) was an American-born actor, brought up in Ireland and Britain, where he established an extensive stage and film career, with his most notable roles in the 1960s television series Danger Man (renamed Secret Agent when exported to the US), and The Prisoner, which he co-created. McGoohan wrote and directed several episodes of The Prisoner himself, occasionally using the pseudonyms Joseph Serf and Paddy Fitz. Later in his career he moved to America and subsequently appeared as the killer in four Columbo episodes, twice winning an Emmy. He was featured in David Cronenberg's Scanners (1981), and played King Edward I, "Longshanks", in Mel Gibson's Braveheart (1995).
McGoohan was born in Astoria, Queens, New York City, to Thomas McGoohan and Rose Fitzpatrick, who were living in the United States after emigrating from Ireland to look for work. He was brought up as a Roman Catholic. Shortly after he was born, McGoohan's parents moved back to Mullaghmore, County Leitrim, Ireland, and, seven years later, they moved to Sheffield, England. McGoohan attended St Vincent's School in Sheffield, but following the outbreak of World War II he was evacuated to Loughborough, Leicestershire. There he attended Ratcliffe College, where he excelled in mathematics and boxing.
McGoohan left school at the age of sixteen and returned to Sheffield where he worked as a chicken farmer, a bank clerk and a lorry driver before getting a job as a stage manager at Sheffield Repertory Theatre. When one of the actors became ill, McGoohan was substituted, launching his acting career.
In 1955, McGoohan starred in a West End production of a play called Serious Charge in the role of a priest accused of being gay. Orson Welles was so impressed by McGoohan's stage presence ("intimidated," Welles said later) that he cast him as Starbuck in his York theatre production of Moby Dick—Rehearsed. (Welles said in 1969 that he believed McGoohan "would now be, I think, one of the big actors of our generation if TV hadn't grabbed him. He can still make it. He was tremendous as Starbuck.")
His first film appearance was an uncreditted role in The Dam Busters standing guard outside the briefing room.
While working as a stand-in during screen tests, McGoohan was signed to a contract with the Rank Organisation. The producers may have been more interested in capitalising on his boxing skill and appearance than his acting ability, casting him as the conniving bad boy in such films as the gritty Hell Drivers and the steamy potboiler The Gypsy and the Gentleman, and after a few films and some clashes with the management, the contract was dissolved.
Free of the contract, he did some TV work, winning a BAFTA in 1959, for a role the previous year in an episode of Armchair Theatre. His favourite part for the stage was the lead in Ibsen's Brand, for which he received an award, and appeared in a (still extant) BBC television production in August 1959.
1960s: Danger Man
Soon, production executive Lew Grade approached McGoohan about a TV series in which he would play a spy named John Drake. Having learned from his experience at the Rank Organisation, he insisted on several conditions in the contract before agreeing to appear in the programme: all the fistfights should be different, the character would always use his brain before using a gun, and, much to the horror of the executives, no kissing. The series debuted in 1960 as Danger Man, a half-hour programme geared toward an American audience. It did fairly well, but not as well as hoped. Production lasted only one year and 39 episodes. After this first series was over, one interviewer asked McGoohan if he would have liked the series to continue, to which he replied, "Perhaps, but let me tell you this: I would rather do twenty TV series than go through what I went through under that Rank contract I signed a few years ago and for which I blame no one but myself."
McGoohan was one of several actors considered for the role of James Bond in Dr. No (along with future Bond actor Roger Moore). While McGoohan, a Catholic, turned down the role on moral grounds, the success of the Bond films is generally cited as the reason for Danger Man being revived.
Before Danger Man was revived, McGoohan spent some time working for Disney on The Three Lives of Thomasina and The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh. After he had also turned down the role of Simon Templar in The Saint, Lew Grade asked him if he would like to give John Drake another try. This time, McGoohan had even more say about the series. Danger Man (US: Secret Agent) was resurrected in 1964 as a one-hour programme. The scripts now allowed McGoohan more range in his acting. The popularity of the series led to McGoohan becoming the highest paid actor in the UK and the show lasted almost three more years.
After shooting the two episodes of Danger Man in colour, McGoohan told Lew Grade he was going to quit for another show.
In the face of McGoohan's intention to quit Danger Man, Grade asked if he would at least work on "something" for him. McGoohan gave him a run-down of what would later be called a miniseries, about a secret agent who resigns suddenly and wakes up to find himself in a prison disguised as a holiday resort. Grade asked for a budget, McGoohan had one ready, and they made a deal over a handshake early on a Saturday morning to produce The Prisoner. Apart from being the star, McGoohan was the executive producer, forming Everyman Films with series producer David Tomblin, and also wrote and directed several episodes, in some cases using pseudonyms. The originally commissioned seven episodes were increased to seventeen.
The Prisoner spends the entire series trying to escape from the Village and to learn the identity of his nemesis, Number One. The Prisoner was a completely new, cerebral kind of series, stretching the limits of the established television formulae. Its influence has been echoed in Lost, Babylon 5, Nowhere Man, I-man, Tower Prep, The Truman Show, The Simpsons and ReBoot.
The main character, the otherwise unnamed Number Six, became McGoohan's most recognisable character. Unfortunately, it also became his prison. Number Six was so obsessively pro-individual that whenever McGoohan later played someone who had something to say about individuality or freedom, the character was often compared to his previous incarnation- for example, his portrayal of the warden in Escape from Alcatraz (1979). "Mel Gibson will always be Mad Max, and me, I will always be a Number", he was once quoted as saying.
The cult of The Prisoner spawned many books, college courses, a quarterly magazine and documentaries. There were several fan clubs—most notably "Six of One", which still honours the show annually with a convention in Portmeirion, North Wales, where the show's exteriors were shot. McGoohan was the honorary president. In the 30 May 2004 edition of TV Guide, The Prisoner was ranked seventh in a list of the "25 Top Rated Cult Shows Ever!" McGoohan's show outranked the likes of The Twilight Zone (No.8) and Doctor Who (No.18). TV Guide wrote, "Fans still puzzle over this weird, enigmatic drama, a Kafkaesque allegory about the individual's struggle in the modern age."
Late 1960s to 1980s: films and Columbo
McGoohan appeared in many films, including Howard Hughes's favourite, the 1968 film Ice Station Zebra, for which he was critically acclaimed, and Silver Streak (1976), with Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor. In 1977, he starred in the TV series Rafferty, playing a former army doctor who has retired and moved into private practice (one reviewer considers this series a forerunner to House.) He also appeared in the 1981 film Scanners, a science fiction/horror film by Canadian director David Cronenberg that has since attained cult film status. In 1985, he appeared on Broadway for his only production there; he starred opposite Rosemary Harris in Hugh Whitemore's Pack of Lies, in which he played a British intelligence agent. He was nominated for a Drama Desk Award as Best Actor for his performance.
McGoohan received two Emmy Awards for his work on Columbo, with his long-time friend Peter Falk. McGoohan had said that his first appearance on Columbo was probably his favourite American role. He directed five Columbo episodes (including three of the four in which he played the murderer), and wrote one and produced two (including one of these). McGoohan was involved with the Columbo series in some capacity from 1974 to 2000.
In 1991, he starred in The Best of Friends for the British Channel 4 network, which told the story of the unlikely friendship between a museum curator, a nun and a playwright. McGoohan played George Bernard Shaw alongside Sir John Gielgud as Sydney Cockerell and Dame Wendy Hiller as Sister Laurentia McLachlan. In the United States, the drama was shown as part of Masterpiece Theatre by PBS.
He was most recognised by a later generation of fans as the King Edward I "Longshanks" from the Oscar-winning Braveheart (1995), and as Judge Omar Noose in A Time to Kill (1996). He directed Richie Havens in a rock-opera version of Othello called Catch My Soul.
In 1996, he appeared in Paramount's big budget cinema adaptation of The Phantom comic strip, playing the previous, murdered Phantom, and father of the current incarnation of the title character (played by Billy Zane) who carried on his father's "undying" persona.
In 2000, he reprised his role as Number Six in an episode of The Simpsons, "The Computer Wore Menace Shoes". In it, Homer Simpson concocts a news story to make his website more popular, and he wakes up in a prison disguised as a holiday resort. Dubbed Number Five, he befriends Number Six and escapes with his boat.
McGoohan's last film was a voice role in the animated film Treasure Planet, released in 2002. That same year, he received the Prometheus Hall of Fame Award for The Prisoner.
McGoohan's name was linked to several aborted attempts at producing a new film version of The Prisoner. In 2002, director Simon West (Lara Croft: Tomb Raider) was signed to helm a version of the story. McGoohan was listed as executive producer for the film, which never came to fruition. More recently, director Christopher Nolan attached to a proposed film version. However, the source material remained difficult and elusive to adapt into a feature film. Ultimately, a reimagining of the series was filmed for the AMC network in late 2008, with broadcast taking place in November 2009; McGoohan was not involved in the project.
McGoohan fell in love with actress Joan Drummond, to whom he reportedly wrote love notes every day. They were married on 19 May 1951. They had three daughters, Catherine (born 1952), Anne (born 1959) and Frances (born 1960). The McGoohans settled in the Pacific Palisades district of Los Angeles in the mid-1970s.
Death and legacy
McGoohan died on 13 January 2009 at Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, California, following a brief illness. His remains were cremated.
A biography of the actor was first published in 2007 by Tomahawk Press, with a further biography which included input from those close to him published in 2011 by Supernova Books.