McGoohan in All Night Long (1962)
Patrick Joseph McGoohan|
19 March 1928
Astoria, Queens, New York City, United States
13 January 2009 (aged 80)|
Santa Monica, California, United States
|Citizenship||Irish and American|
|Alma mater||Ratcliffe College|
|Occupation||Actor, television writer, producer, director|
Mullaghmore, Carrigallen, County Leitrim, Ireland|
|Spouse(s)||Joan Drummond (m. 1951)|
|Children||3, including Catherine McGoohan|
Patrick Joseph McGoohan (19 March 1928 – 13 January 2009) was an American-born Irish actor, writer, and director who was brought up in Ireland and England. He began his career in Great Britain in the 1950s, and relocated to the United States in the 1970s. His career-defining roles were in the British 1960s television series Danger Man (US: Secret Agent) and the surreal psychological drama The Prisoner, which he co-created.
McGoohan was born in Astoria, Queens, New York City, the son of Rose (Fitzpatrick) and Thomas McGoohan, who were living in the United States after emigrating from Ireland to seek work. He was brought up as a 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 and De La Salle College in Sheffield. During 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 16 and returned to Sheffield, where he worked as a chicken farmer, a bank clerk, and a lorry (truck) driver before getting a job as a stage manager at Sheffield Repertory Theatre. When one of the actors became ill, McGoohan was substituted for him, launching his acting career.
Orson Welles was so impressed by McGoohan's stage presence ("intimidated," Welles would later say) 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." and "with all the required attributes, looks, intensity, unquestionable acting ability and a twinkle in his eye."
His first television appearance was playing Charles Stewart Parnell in "The Fall of Parnell" for You Are There (1954). He had an uncred role in The Dam Busters (1955), standing guard outside the briefing room. He delivered the line – "Sorry, old boy, it's secret – you can't go in. Now, c'mon, hop it!", which was cut from some prints of the movie.
He also had small roles in Passage Home (1955), The Dark Avenger (1955) and I Am a Camera (1955). He could also be seen in Zarak (1956) for Warwick Films. On TV he was in "Margin for Error" in Terminus (1955), guest starred on The Adventures of Sir Lancelot and Assignment Foreign Legion, The Vise and The Adventures of Aggie, and played the lead in "The Makepeace Story" for BBC Sunday Night Theatre (1955). He also appeared in Welles' film of Moby Dick Rehearsed.
He did Ring for Catty on stage in 1956.
While working as a stand-in during screen tests, McGoohan was signed to a contract with the Rank Organisation. Rank put him in mostly villainous parts: High Tide at Noon (1957), directed by Philip Leacock; Hell Drivers (1957), directed by Cy Endfield, as a violent bully; and the steamy potboiler The Gypsy and the Gentleman (1958), directed by Joseph Losey.
He had good roles on TV in anthology series such as Television Playwright, Folio, Armchair Theatre, ITV Play of the Week and ITV Television Playhouse. McGoohan was given a leading role in Nor the Moon by Night (1958), shot in South Africa.
After some clashes with the management, the contract was dissolved. Free of the contract, he did some TV work, winning a BAFTA in 1960.
His favourite part for the stage was the lead in Ibsen's Brand, for which he received an award. It appeared in a (still extant) BBC television production in August 1959. Michael Meyer thought that McGoohan's performance in Meyer's translation of Brand in 1959 was the best and most powerful performance he'd ever seen. It was McGoohan's last appearance on stage for 28 years.
Soon, production executive Lew Grade approached McGoohan about a television 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 a 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 appeared in Two Living, One Dead (1961), shot in Sweden. He starred in two films directed by Basil Dearden, All Night Long (1962), an updating of Othello, and Life for Ruth (1962). He also starred in an adaptation of The Quare Fellow (1962) by Brendan Behan.
McGoohan was one of several actors considered for the role of James Bond in Dr. No. 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. (He was later considered for the same role in Live and Let Die, but turned it down again.)
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 of The Prisoner, 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 became seventeen.
The title character of The Prisoner (the otherwise-unnamed "Number Six") spends the entire series trying to escape from a luxury island prison community called "The Village", and to learn the identity of his nemesis, Number One. The Village's administrators try just as hard to force or trick him into revealing why he resigned from his previous job as a spy, which he refuses to divulge. The location used was the Italianate village of Portmeirion in North Wales.
After the end of The Prisoner, McGoohan presented a TV show, Journey into Darkness (1968-69). MGM cast him as a spy in an action film, Ice Station Zebra (1968), for which his performance as a psychologically tightly-wound British spy drew critical praise.
He was meant to follow it with the star part of Dirk Struan in an expensive adaptation of the James Clavell best seller Tai-Pan but the project was cancelled before filming. Instead McGoohan made The Moonshine War (1970) for MGM.
McGoohan played James Stewart, 1st Earl of Moray in Mary, Queen of Scots (1971). He directed Richie Havens in a rock-opera version of Othello called Catch My Soul (1974) but he disliked the experience.
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 (episode: "By Dawn's Early Light", 1974) was probably his favourite American role. He directed five Columbo episodes (including three of the four in which he appeared), one of which he also wrote and two of which he also produced. McGoohan was involved with the Columbo series in some capacity from 1974 to 2000 and his daughter Catherine McGoohan appeared with him in his final episode, Ashes to Ashes. The other two Columbo episodes in which he appeared are "Identity Crisis" (1975) and "Agenda For Murder" (1990).
He had the lead in a Canadian film Kings and Desperate Men then had support parts in Brass Target (1978) and the Clint Eastwood film Escape from Alcatraz (1979), portraying the prison's warden. He had the lead in a TV movie The Hard Way (1979).
In 1985 he appeared on Broadway for his only production there, starring opposite Rosemary Harris in Hugh Whitemore's Pack of Lies, in which he played another British spy. He was nominated for a Drama Desk Award as Best Actor for his performance.
McGoohan starred in The Best of Friends (1991) for Channel 4, 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.
Also in this period he featured as King Edward I in Braveheart (1995), which won five Academy Awards. It seemed to revitalise McGoohan's career: he was then seen as Judge Omar Noose in A Time to Kill (1996), and in The Phantom (also 1996) a cinema adaptation of the comic strip.
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 meets Number Six, and later betrays him and escapes with his boat; referencing his numerous attempts to escape on a raft in The Prisoner, Number Six splutters "That's the third time that's happened!"
McGoohan's name was linked to several aborted attempts at producing a new film version of The Prisoner. In 2002, Simon West was signed to direct a version of the story. McGoohan was listed as executive producer for the film, which never came to fruition. Later, Christopher Nolan was proposed as director for a film version. However, the source material remained difficult and elusive to adapt into a feature film. McGoohan was not involved in the project that was ultimately completed. A reimagining of the series was filmed for the AMC network in late 2008, with its broadcast taking place during November 2009.
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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, California, in the mid-1970s.
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|1955||The Dark Avenger||English Soldier||Uncred|
|1955||The Dam Busters||RAF Guard||Uncred|
|1955||I Am a Camera||Swedish Water Therapist|
|1957||High Tide at Noon||Simon Breck|
|1957||Hell Drivers||G. 'Red' Redman|
|1958||The Gypsy and the Gentleman||Jess|
|1958||Nor the Moon by Night||Andrew Miller|
|1961||Two Living, One Dead||Erik Berger|
|1962||All Night Long||Johnny Cousin|
|1962||Life for Ruth||Doctor James 'Jim' Brown|
|1962||The Quare Fellow||Thomas Crimmin|
|1963||The Three Lives of Thomasina||Andrew McDhui|
|1963||Dr. Syn, Alias the Scarecrow||Dr. Christopher Syn|
|1968||Ice Station Zebra||David Jones|
|1970||The Moonshine War||Frank Long|
|1971||Mary, Queen of Scots||James Stuart|
|1974||Catch My Soul||n/a||Director|
|1975||A Genius, Two Partners and a Dupe||Major Cabot|
|1976||Silver Streak||Roger Devereau|
|1977||The Man in the Iron Mask||Fouquet|
|1978||Brass Target||Colonel Mike McCauley|
|1979||Escape from Alcatraz||Warden|
|1981||Scanners||Doctor Paul Ruth|
|1981||Kings and Desperate Men||John Kingsley|
|1985||Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend||Doctor Eric Kiviat|
|1995||Braveheart||Longshanks, King Edward I|
|1996||The Phantom||Phantom's Dad|
|1996||A Time to Kill||Judge Omar Noose|
|1997||Hysteria||Dr. Harvey Langston|
|2002||Treasure Planet||Billy Bones||Voice, (final film role)|
|1955||The Vise||Tony Mason||1 episode ("Gift from Heaven")|
|1958||The Vise||Vance||1 episode ("Blood in the Sky")|
|1958||Armchair Theatre||Jack 'Pal' Smurch||1 episode ("The Greatest Man in the World")|
|1959||Brand||Priest Brand||Henrik Ibsen play|
|1961||Armchair Theatre||Nicholai Soloviov||1 episode ("The Man Out There")|
|Danger Man||John Drake||39 + 47 episodes. Also directed three episodes.|
|1963||Disneyland||Doctor Christopher Syn/
Scarecrow of Romney Marsh
|1967–68||The Prisoner||Number Six||17 episodes. Also directed five episodes.|
|1969||Journey into Darkness||Host||Made-for-TV film|
|1974||Columbo||Colonel Lyle C. Rumford||1 episode ("By Dawn's Early Light")|
|1975||Columbo||Nelson Brenner||1 episode ("Identity Crisis"). Also directed.|
|1976||Columbo||n/a||1 episode ("Last Salute to the Commodore") – director|
|1977||Rafferty||Doctor Sid Rafferty||13 episodes. Also directed one episode.|
|1979||The Hard Way||John Connor||Made-for-TV film|
|1983||Jamaica Inn||Joss Merlyn|
|1985||American Playhouse||Chief magistrate||3 episodes ("Three Sovereigns for Sarah" parts I, II & III)|
|1987||Murder, She Wrote||Oliver Quayle||1 episode ("Witness for the Defense")|
|1990||Columbo||Oscar Finch||1 episode ("Agenda for Murder"). Also directed.|
|1998||Columbo||Eric Prince||"Ashes to Ashes". Also directed.|
|2000||Columbo||n/a||1 episode ("Murder with Too Many Notes") – director|
|2000||The Simpsons||Number Six||1 episode ("The Computer Wore Menace Shoes")|
Danger Man, McGoohan put a new spin on the secret agent formula by refusing to allow his character, John Drake, ... The show's success made McGoohan Britain's highest-paid TV actor.