Patrick Macnee Biography

Television Actor, Actor, Film Actor (1922–2015)
English actor Patrick Macnee is best known for playing secret agent John Steed in the 1960s television series The Avengers.


Patrick Macnee was born in London, England, on February 6, 1922. After attending acting school, he began a career that progressed from theater to television and film. His signature role was as John Steed, the bowler-hat-wearing crime-fighter of the British television series The Avengers, which aired from 1961 to '69. Macnee later moved to the United States and worked in American television and movies.

Early Life and Education

Daniel Patrick Macnee was born on February 6, 1922, in London, England, to Daniel and Dorothea Mary (Henry) Macnee. He was the elder of two sons. His parents divorced when he was young. He attended Summer Fields School in Oxford and Eton College in Eton, after which he received his acting training at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art in London. He performed in repertory theater before serving in the Royal Navy during World War II.

Film and Television Career

Macnee made his motion picture debut in 1943, with a small part in The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp. He was also cast as young Jacob Marley in the movie version of A Christmas Carol in 1951, and appeared in the musical comedy film Les Girls in 1957. He also had small parts on several television programs, and worked as a producer for the World War II documentary series The Valiant Years (1960-61).

'The Avengers'

From 1961 through 1969, Macnee played the signature role of his career: the suave secret agent John Steed in the television series The Avengers. Dressed in a dark suit and a bowler hat, always carrying an umbrella (which concealed a sword in its handle), Macnee fought spies and criminals along with a series of attractive and assertive female partners, including Honor Blackman, Diana Rigg and Linda Thorson. He returned to the role of Steed for The New Avengers (1976-77), performing alongside Joanna Lumley.

Later Work

After his work on The Avengers, Macnee received many smaller roles on television and in film. His television projects included Battlestar Galactica in 1979, an adaptation of Around the World in 80 Days in 1989, several made-for-TV movies based on classic Sherlock Holmes tales, and the series Patrick Macnee’s Ghost Stories in 1993.

His later work on the big screen included appearances in the "rockumentary" This Is Spinal Tap (1984) and the James Bond movie A View to a Kill (1985), as well as a cameo voice-role in the film version of The Avengers, starring Ralph Fiennes and Uma Thurman, in 1998. That same year, he published a memoir titled Blind in One Ear: The Avenger Returns.

Personal Life

Macnee was married three times. His first two marriages, to Barbara Douglas (from 1942-56) and Katherine Woodville (1965-69) ended in divorce. He was married to Baba Majos de Nagyzsenye from 1988 until her death in 2007. Macnee died peacefully in his home on June 25, 2015 at the age of 93. He is survived by his two children, Rupert and Jenny Macnee, from his first marriage. 

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