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
(US: Secret Agent) and the surreal psychological drama The
Prisoner, which he co-created.
1 Early life
2.1 Early career
2.2 Rank Organisation
2.3 Danger Man
2.4 Post Danger Man
2.5 Return of Danger Man
2.6 The Prisoner
3 Personal life
9 External links
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.
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."
His first television appearance was playing
Charles Stewart Parnell
Charles Stewart Parnell in
"The Fall of Parnell" for You Are There (1954). He had an
uncredited 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
for Warwick Films. On TV he was in "Margin for Error" in Terminus
(1955), guest starred on
The Adventures of Sir Lancelot
The Adventures of Sir Lancelot and Assignment
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
High Tide at Noon
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
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
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."
Post Danger Man
McGoohan appeared in
Two Living, One Dead
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
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
Danger Man being revived. (He was later considered for the
same role in Live and Let Die, but turned it down again.)
McGoohan spent some time working for Disney on The Three Lives of
Thomasina (1963) and The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh (1963).
Return of Danger Man
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
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.
James Stewart, 1st Earl of Moray
James Stewart, 1st Earl of Moray in Mary, Queen of
Scots (1971). He directed
Richie Havens in a rock-opera version of
Catch My Soul
Catch My Soul (1974) but he disliked the
McGoohan received two Emmy Awards for his work on Columbo, with his
long-time friend Peter Falk. McGoohan had said that his first
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"
McGoohan began to specialise in villains: A Genius, Two Partners and a
Dupe (1975), Silver Streak (1976); The Man in the Iron Mask (1977).
In 1977, he starred in the television series Rafferty, playing a
former army doctor who has retired and moved into private
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 1981 he appeared in the science fiction/horror film Scanners. He
acted in Jamaica Inn (1983) and Trespasses (1984).
In 1985 he appeared on Broadway for his only production there,
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.
On screen he could be seen in Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend (1985),
Of Pure Blood (1986) and episodes of shows like Murder, She Wrote.
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
George Bernard Shaw alongside
John Gielgud as
Sydney Cockerell and Dame
Wendy Hiller as Sister
Laurentia McLachlan. In the United States, the drama was shown as part
Masterpiece Theatre by PBS.
Also in this period he featured as King Edward I in
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 last film role was as the voice of
Billy Bones in the
animated film Treasure Planet, released in 2002. That same year, he
received the Prometheus Hall of Fame Award for The Prisoner.
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
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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.
Wikinews has related news: US actor
Patrick McGoohan dead at age 80
McGoohan died on 13 January 2009 at
Saint John's Health Center
Saint John's Health Center in
Santa Monica, California, following a brief illness. His body was
A biography of the actor was first published in 2007 by Tomahawk
Press, with a further biography published in 2011 by Supernova
The Dark Avenger
The Dam Busters
I Am a Camera
Swedish Water Therapist
High Tide at Noon
C. 'Red' Redman
The Gypsy and the Gentleman
Nor the Moon by Night
Two Living, One Dead
All Night Long
Life for Ruth
Doctor James 'Jim' Brown
The Quare Fellow
The Three Lives of Thomasina
Dr. Syn, Alias the Scarecrow
Dr. Christopher Syn
Ice Station Zebra
The Moonshine War
Mary, Queen of Scots
Catch My Soul
A Genius, Two Partners and a Dupe
The Man in the Iron Mask
Colonel Mike McCauley
Escape from Alcatraz
Doctor Paul Ruth
Kings and Desperate Men
Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend
Doctor Eric Kiviat
Longshanks, King Edward I
A Time to Kill
Judge Omar Noose
Dr. Harvey Langston
Voice, (final film role)
1 episode ("Gift from Heaven")
1 episode ("Blood in the Sky")
Jack 'Pal' Smurch
1 episode ("The Greatest Man in the World")
Henrik Ibsen play
1 episode ("The Man Out There")
39 + 47 episodes. Also directed three episodes.
Doctor Christopher Syn/
Scarecrow of Romney Marsh
17 episodes. Also directed five episodes.
Journey into Darkness
Colonel Lyle C. Rumford
1 episode ("By Dawn's Early Light")
1 episode ("Identity Crisis"). Also directed.
1 episode ("Last Salute to the Commodore") – director
Doctor Sid Rafferty
13 episodes. Also directed one episode.
The Hard Way
3 episodes ("Three Sovereigns for Sarah" parts I, II & III)
Murder, She Wrote
1 episode ("Witness for the Defense")
1 episode ("Agenda for Murder"). Also directed.
"Ashes to Ashes". Also directed.
1 episode ("Murder with Too Many Notes") – director
1 episode ("The Computer Wore Menace Shoes")
BAFTA TV Award
BAFTA TV Award for Best Actor – Won
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Single Performance by a
Supporting Actor in a Comedy or Drama Series (for Columbo: By Dawn's
Early Light) – Won
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama
Series (for Columbo: Agenda for Murder) – Won
^ a b "Patrick McGoohan". The Daily Telegraph. 15 January 2009.
Retrieved 11 September 2010.
^ Langley, R: Patrick McGoohan. Tomahawk Press, 2007.
^ "BFI retrospective", The Irish Post, Retrieved 9 July 2016
^ Langley, R. Patrick McGoohan, pp. 12–13. Tomahawk Press, 2007.
^ ANOTHER NEW PLAY IN LONDON: "Serious Charge" Hope-Wallace, Philip.
The Manchester Guardian (1901-1959); Manchester (UK) [Manchester
(UK)]18 Feb 1955: 7.
^ WELLESIAN VERSION OF "MOBY DICK": A Sea Charade Fay, Gerard. The
Manchester Guardian (1901-1959); Manchester (UK) [Manchester (UK)]18
June 1955: 5.
^ Jonathan Roenbaum (ed.),
Orson Welles and Peter Bogdanovich, This Is
Orson Welles (Da Capo Press, New York, 1992 [rev. 1998 ed.]) p.4
^ Cassin, B. I Never Had a Proper Job. Liberties Press, 2012.
^ Langley, R. Patrick McGoohan, pp. 41-42. Tomahawk Press, 2007.
^ (Lyric, Hammersmith.)-RING FOR CATTY. By Patrick Cargill and Jack
Beale. (Lyric, Shaftesbury Avenue) Hartley, Anthony. The Spectator;
London196.6661 (Feb 24, 1956): 248.
^ PATRICK McGOOHAN Picture Show; London70.1823 (Mar 8, 1958): 8.
^ "Love under an African moon". The Australian Women's Weekly. 26
(21). 29 October 1958. p. 73. Retrieved 15 October 2017 – via
National Library of Australia.
^ "BAFTA award in 1960", BAFTA, Retrieved 1 February 2015
^ "World Theatre"
Brand (TV Episode 1959) on IMDb
^ Michael Meyer, Not Prince Hamlet
^ a b ""Prisoner" Star
Patrick McGoohan Dies". CBS News. 14 January
2009. Retrieved 15 January 2009.
^ Vincent Cosgrove, 2007. "Odds Are He Will Live on Disc Tomorrow,"
New York Times, 15 April. Retrieved 4-7-10.
^ ""Danger Man"". The Australian Women's Weekly. 29 (7). 19 July 1961.
p. 21. Retrieved 15 October 2017 – via National Library of
Danger Man scared me", Photoplay, April 1961, p. 14.
^ Time & Tide. 46. Time and Tide Publishing Company. January 1965.
p. 66. 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.
^ "Dangerman". The Australian Women's Weekly. 33 (5). 30 June 1965.
p. 17. Retrieved 15 October 2017 – via National Library of
^ Martin Jackson "
Danger Man To Quit", Daily Express, 16 April 1966,
p.12. Jackson states: "Now McGoohan has put up a new TV idea to ATV's
managing director Lew Grade." He said: "It is another adventure series
but a very different sort of character. It promises to be very
exciting. Mr. Grade said: Mr. McGoohan is coming to see me tomorrow to
discuss the details. We hope to start work on the new series in
The Prisoner Puzzle (with Patrick McGoohan)". Retrieved 23 January
^ McGoohan wrote "Free for All" as Paddy Fitz and directed "Many Happy
Returns" and "A Change of Mind" as Joseph Serf. He also wrote "Once
Upon A Time" and "Fall Out" using his own name.
^ MGM Won't Drop Plans for 'Tai-Pan'
Los Angeles Times (1923-Current
File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 29 July 1968: g15.
^ Katelan, Jean-Yves (October 1995). "Le Prisonnier au cinema".
Premiere (223): 26. Retrieved 2009-01-17.
List of Columbo episodes and List of
^ TV.com. "Rafferty". TV.com. Retrieved 26 November 2012.
^ "MARGARET TRUDEAU..." The Australian Women's Weekly. 46 (18). 4
October 1978. p. 12. Retrieved 15 October 2017 – via National
Library of Australia.
Pack of Lies
Pack of Lies – Broadway Play – Original at the Internet Broadway
^ Dalton, Andrew. "'Prisoner' actor
Patrick McGoohan dies in LA".
Associated Press through the Internet Archive. Archived from the
original on 9 February 2009. Retrieved 7 January 2012.
Find a Grave
Find a Grave Memorial". Findagrave.com. Retrieved 12 October
^ Langley, Roger; Falk, Peter (October 2007). Patrick McGoohan: Danger
Man or Prisoner?. Tomahawk Press. ISBN 978-0-9531926-4-9.
^ Booth, Rupert (April 2001). Not a Number: A life. Supernova Books.
Patrick McGoohan on IMDb
Patrick McGoohan at the TCM Movie Database
Patrick McGoohan at the
Internet Broadway Database
Internet Broadway Database
Patrick McGoohan at the British Film Institute's Screenonline
Patrick McGoohan at Find a Grave
BAFTA TV Award
BAFTA TV Award for Best Actor
Paul Rogers (1955)
Peter Cushing (1956)
Michael Gough (1957)
Michael Hordern (1958)
Donald Pleasence (1959)
Patrick McGoohan (1960)
Lee Montague (1961)
Rupert Davies (1962)
Harry H. Corbett
Harry H. Corbett (1963)
Alan Badel (1964)
Patrick Wymark (1965)
Alan Badel (1966)
Warren Mitchell (1967)
Eric Porter (1968)
Roy Dotrice (1969)
Edward Woodward (1970)
Keith Michell (1971)
John Le Mesurier
John Le Mesurier (1972)
Anthony Hopkins (1973)
Frank Finlay (1974)
Peter Barkworth (1975)
John Hurt (1976)
Derek Jacobi (1977)
Peter Barkworth (1978)
Edward Fox (1979)
Alec Guinness (1980)
Denholm Elliott (1981)
Anthony Andrews (1982)
Alec Guinness (1983)
Alan Bates (1984)
Tim Pigott-Smith (1985)
Bob Peck (1986)
Michael Gambon (1987)
David Jason (1988)
Ray McAnally (1989)
John Thaw (1990)
Ian Richardson (1991)
Robert Lindsay (1992)
John Thaw (1993)
Robbie Coltrane (1994)
Robbie Coltrane (1995)
Robbie Coltrane (1996)
Nigel Hawthorne (1997)
Simon Russell Beale
Simon Russell Beale (1998)
Tom Courtenay (1999)
Michael Gambon (2000)
Michael Gambon (2001)
Michael Gambon (2002)
Albert Finney (2003)
Bill Nighy (2004)
Rhys Ifans (2005)
Mark Rylance (2006)
Jim Broadbent (2007)
Andrew Garfield (2008)
Stephen Dillane (2009)
Kenneth Branagh (2010)
Daniel Rigby (2011)
Dominic West (2012)
Ben Whishaw (2013)
Sean Harris (2014)
Jason Watkins (2015)
Mark Rylance (2016)
Adeel Akhtar (2017)
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series
Patrick McGoohan (1975)
Gordon Jackson (1976)
Louis Gossett Jr.
Louis Gossett Jr. (1977)
Barnard Hughes (1978)
John Lithgow (1986)
Joe Spano (1989)
Patrick McGoohan (1990)
David Opatoshu (1991)
Laurence Fishburne (1993)
Richard Kiley (1994)
Paul Winfield (1995)
Peter Boyle (1996)
Pruitt Taylor Vince (1997)
John Larroquette (1998)
Edward Herrmann (1999)
James Whitmore (2000)
Michael Emerson (2001)
Charles S. Dutton
Charles S. Dutton (2002)
Charles S. Dutton
Charles S. Dutton (2003)
William Shatner (2004)
Ray Liotta (2005)
Christian Clemenson (2006)
John Goodman (2007)
Glynn Turman (2008)
Michael J. Fox
Michael J. Fox (2009)
John Lithgow (2010)
Paul McCrane (2011)
Jeremy Davies (2012)
Dan Bucatinsky (2013)
Joe Morton (2014)
Reg E. Cathey
Reg E. Cathey (2015)
Hank Azaria (2016)
Gerald McRaney (2017)
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