Thursday, August 13, 2015

Seven Things to Know About Patrick McGoohan

1. Although considered a British actor, Patrick McGoohan was actually born in Astoria, New York, in 1928. His parents moved back to Ireland when he was six months old. The family relocated to Sheffield, England, when he was seven.

2. Patrick McGoohan won two Emmys for guest appearances on Columbo. In 1975, he played a murderous commandant of a military academy in the episode "By Dawn's Early Light." Then, in 1990, he portrayed a vice presidential candidate who makes a murder look like suicide in "Agenda for Murder"; McGoohan also directed this episode. (Note: He appeared two other Columbo episodes for a total of four.)

Behind the mask in Scarecrow.
3. In the 1963, McGoohan signed a contract with Walt Disney. He first appeared on Disney's Wonderful World of Color in the fondly-remembered three-part tale The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh. He played the quiet vicar of an English village in the late 1770s--who was actually a smuggler who used his plunder to put food on the over-taxed parishioners' tables. It was edited and released as the film Dr. Syn, Alias the Scarecrow in Great Britain. McGoohan's second Disney effort was the theatrical release The Three Lives of Thomasina, in which he portrayed a veterinarian faced with the decision of saving his daughter's cat or a a blind man's seeing eye dog.

As Dr. Sid Rafferty.
4. McGoohan TV's series Secret Agent (aka Danger Man) and The Prisoner are well documented. However, he also starred in the mostly forgotten 1977 TV series Rafferty, which lasted for just 13 episodes on CBS. He played a cantankerous, retired Army doctor who had trouble adjusting to civilian life. He also directed one episode ("The Wild Child").

5. In addition to his highly-regarded television performances, Patrick McGoohan earned acclaim on the stage in both Great Britain and the U.S. In 1959, he won the London Drama Critics Award for his performance in the title role of Henrik Ibsen's Brand. Twenty six years later, he earned a Drama Desk Award nomination for Outstanding Actor for Pack of Lies. He played a government agent who convinces to a family to allow him to conduct surveillance on their neighbors, who may be spies. It was McGoohan's Broadway debut (when the play was adapted for television in 1987, Alan Bates played McGoohan's role).

He even brought an edge to The Three
Lives of Thomasina
6. McGoohan chose a variety of eclectic roles over his career. His filmography includes: All Night Long (1962), a contemporary version of Othello set in the world of jazz; the submarine espionage film Ice Station Zebra (1968), which was allegedly one of Howard Hughes' favorite films; and The Moonshine War (1970), in which he played a crooked IRS agent in Prohibition-era Kentucky.

7. In an NPR obituary in 2009, film critic David Thomson said: "This was a man who very easily, I think, could have been up there with Olivier and Gielgud in terms of being that famous an actor. He was handsome. He had a great voice. He was a tremendous actor. But as he admitted himself, he was difficult. He wanted to do things his way and he had his own vision. And that meant he did much less."


  1. Was offered Bond, James Bond. Turned it down on moral grounds - "The man's a whore".

  2. Rick, I knew none of these things. Not one.

    It's a good thing you write a blog where I can fill in some knowledge gaps.

  3. Loved Patrick in Danger Man, The Prisoner, and Escape from Alcatraz!

  4. Rick, Did you know John Drake in the early seasons of Danger man was an American Agent working for NATO? I finally have all the Danger Man/ Secret Agent DVD box and like I Spy they still hold up. And There is a James Bond Connection as people like Bernard Lee and others did the half hour English shows Rick how could you left out one his biggest hits Silver Streak ?

  5. Rick, I love when you post articles like this one to help us learn some interesting information about people like the underrated, uber-talented Patrick McGoohan. I, too, love his work in Danger Man and The Prisoner but had not heard about Raffles. Your research is like reading a mini biography and it encourages us to want to learn more. Excellent post!

  6. I've always been a big fan of McGoohan, Rick. His rather scowling good looks, that beautiful voice... I remember "By Dawn's Early Light," and of course Secret Agent. You give a lot of good info about him, and I enjoyed this a lot.

  7. I always admired Patrick McGoohan ever since I watched his "Secret Agent" show - I still remember the theme song "Secret Agent Man." He was unique in look and voice, a standout. Thanks for remembering him and his contributions Rick.

  8. " In 1959, he won the London Drama Critics Award for his performance in the title role of Henrik Ibsen's Brand."

    Michael Meyer, who translated Brand, thought this was the best theatrical performance he ever saw.

    1. Roger, thanks for adding that fascinating piece of info. Would have loved to have seen him on stage.

  9. He directed all but his first Columbo appearance, and directed episodes of both the original and new Columbo. Each of the new Columbo episodes he directed, he also served as an Executive Producer, which shows you how much they valued him.