A man who personified the epitome of the British gent across the world is gone. Patrick Macnee, who most famously played John Steed in The Avengers during the 1960s and ‘70s, has died at the age of 93.
Born in London, Macnee was a school contemporary of Sir Christopher Lee, with whom he acted in several productions, then went to Eton College where he initially excelled before being drummed out for selling pornography to his fellow students and acting as a bookie. He enlisted in the Royal Navy and became a navigator on motor torpedo boats patrolling the English Channel and North Sea.
His true acting ambitions would come after his military service: he began trying his hand in London, and worked on the stage, but the real boost to his career came when a friend offered a job in Canada. He began taking small, uncredited roles and extra work in films and including a debut in Pygmalion in 1938 he counts films such as Laurence Olivier’s Hamlet, the 1951 version of** A Christmas Carol**, Les Girls, The Howling, King Solomon’s Treasure, This Is Spinal Tap,** A View To A Kill**, Masque Of The Red Death and even the 1998 film adaptation of **The Avengers **on his CV.
But it was television where he truly shone, playing the bowler hat-sporting, umbrella-toting John Steed, who became an iconic character after the original lead character, Ian Hendry’s David Keel, left at the end of The Avengers' first series. Macnee, alongside a succession of female partners including Honor Blackman, Diana Rigg and Joanna Lumley, was the mysterious, charming and always genteel hero, who eschewed guns but always found a way to fight. His TV career was long and successful, and saw him as a regular character actor showing up in the likes of Columbo, Battlestar Galactica, The Love Boat, Hart To Hart and Frasier.
He’s survived by his children and one grandson.