Patrick Macnee, the actor best known for starring in the classic British TV series The Avengers, has died. He was 93.
Macnee was born in London in 1922, and after his father left the family and moved to India, he moved in with his mother and—in the words of his official site—her “lady lover,” “Uncle Evelyn.” He eventually attended Eton College, a boarding school, and was a member of its dramatic society until he became a bookie/pornography dealer for his classmates and was “promptly expelled.” Macnee later won a scholarship to the Webber Douglas Academy Of Dramatic Art, where he got his first real introduction to acting with a small role in a production of Little Women.
Like most people of his age, Macnee took a break from his professional career in the early ’40s for World War II, and he served in the British Navy until 1946. After that, Macnee returned to acting and hopped around Canada, The U.S., and England, appearing in films like Les Girls (with Gene Kelly) and A Christmas Carol. He also had roles on TV across the three countries in shows like Alfred Hitchock Presents, Tales Of Adventures, and The Twilight Zone.
What would become his most famous role came in 1960, when Macnee got the job of playing John Steed on the British spy show The Avengers. Originally just an assistant to Ian Hendry Dr. Keel, Macnee’s Steed—with his iconic bowler hat and umbrella—quickly became the main character. Steed was also paired with an array of partners, most famously Diana Rigg’s Emma Peel. With Macnee in the lead, The Avengers went on to become a hit outside of the U.K., and he would later reprise his role as John Steed in the New Avengers series in the ’70s. Macnee even made a vocal cameo in the 1998 big-screen Avengers movie with Ralph Fiennes and Uma Thurman.
Macnee went on to perform in several smaller acting roles, mostly in American TV and TV movies, and he wrote a book about his work on The Avengers. A statement on his official site says that Macnee was “at home wherever in the world he found himself,” adding that, “He had a knack for making friends, and keeping them.”