Dead, Patrick Joseph McGoohan on the 13th of January 2009 at the age of 80, he was an American-born Anglo-Irish actor, writer and director who was brought up in Ireland and Britain, where he established an extensive stage and film career.
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 seek work, he was brought up as a Roman Catholic.
In 1955, McGoohan starred in a West End production of a play called Serious Charge in the role of a priest accused of being homosexual.
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.”
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.”
Thus, the TV series The Prisoner (1967) came to revolve around the efforts of a secret agent, who resigned early in his career, to clear his name.
His aim was to escape from a fancifully beautiful but psychologically brutal prison for people who know too much.
The series was as popular as it was surreal and allegorical and its mysterious final episode cause such an uproar that McGoohan was to desert England for more than 20 years to seek relative anonymity in LA, where celebrities are “a dime a dozen.”
In 1951, he married actress Joan Drummond, with whom he had three daughters, Catherine, Anne and Frances. In 1959, he received a London Drama Critics Award for his performance in a London stage production of Ibsen’s “Brand.”
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. 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 which was ultimately completed.