Wednesday, January 14, 2009

R.I.P. Patrick McGoohan

Already in the news recently due to the AMC website having posted all of the episodes of his classic PRISONER TV series online, now comes the sad news that actor Patrick McGoohan has died. As a child, I never understood THE PRISONER--who did? In later years, I came to realize that that was exactly the point as well as the fun of it. (There are a number of books on THE PRISONER, most of them excellent. The one seen here actually comes with a DVD featuring a once-rare edit of the second episode.)

McGoohan was much more than a one-hit wonder though. His ultra-dry delivery and casual intensity was unique, lending an air of something special to nearly everything he did. New York born but veddy British nonetheless, he was reportedly in the running to have been the original James Bond but his refusal to kiss women onscreen--virtually unheard of--would have kept that from happening. He was, however, memorable in the UK's DANGER MAN, seen stateside a few years later as SECRET AGENT MAN (enabling them to graft on Johnny Rivers' catchy hit song as the theme).
He also starred as the Vicar/Scarecrow in Disney's SCARECROW OF ROMNEY MARSH, a beloved highlight of my early years.

I quite enjoyed him in the seventies as RAFFERTY, a kind of proto-HOUSE featuring a cranky, quirky doctor. Even better, though, were his several appearances as guest villain on COLUMBO...often written and/or directed by the actor himself! Add to that the fact that he could be a most ruthless, heartless and yet suave movie villain in films such as Gene Wilder's SILVER STREAK and you had a truly impressive and enjoyable actor/writer/director...who will be missed quite a bit.

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