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Patrick Macnee, agent John Steed of TV's The Avengers, dead at 93


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from the CBC:

Patrick Macnee, star of the 1960s TV series The Avengers, has died. He was 93.

His son Rupert said in a statement that Patrick Macnee died Thursday at his home in Rancho Mirage, Calif.

The British-born actor was best known as dapper secret agent John Steed in the long-running television series.

His son says Macnee died of natural causes with his family at his bedside.

"Wherever he went, he left behind a trove of memories," read a statement on the actor's website. "Patrick Macnee was a popular figure in the television industry. He was at home wherever in the world he found himself. He had a knack for making friends, and keeping them."

Born to a noble family

Born to a noble British family in 1922, Macnee spent his early years in Berkshire, England with his father, a racehorse trainer, and a socialite mother, who was well regarded for her work with military families.

He began acting at an early age, and trained at London's Webber-Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art after attending the prestigious British boarding school Eton College.

Macnee claimed to have been thrown out of the boys' private school for dealing in horse-race bets and pornography.

The Second World War drew him away from acting for a time, when he served on coastal forces of the Royal Navy.

Time in Canada

After the war, Macnee took a few small films parts, including a role in the 1951 classic A Christmas Carol. But he left England for Canada and later the United States after receiving a call from David Greene, a director friend at CBC in Toronto, according to his website.

Macnee returned to London in the 1960s when production began on The Avengers.

The clever spy drama, which began in 1961 in Britain, debuted in the United States in 1966. It ran for eight seasons and continued in syndication for decades afterward.

Macnee's character appeared in all but two episodes, accompanied by a string of beautiful women who were his sidekicks. The most popular was likely Diana Rigg, who played sexy junior agent Emma Peel from 1965 to 1968. Honor Blackman played Catherine Gale from 1962 to 1964, and Linda Thorson was Tara King from 1968 to 1969.

"We were in our own mad, crazy world," Macnee told the Wichita Eagle in 2003 when The New Avengers was being issued on DVD. "We were the TV Beatles. We even filmed in the same studio."

But while he made his name internationally playing a smart, debonair British secret agent, Macnee was never a fan of the James Bond movies.

"I think their stories aren't that realistic," he told Salt Lake City's Deseret News in 1999. "I think the sadism in them is horrifying. ... On the other hand, the books — the James Bond books — were fascinating."

Macnee outlived three wives. His is survived by his two children and one grandson.

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You have to be of a certain age to remember him but the TV show form Britain was a huge hit in the 60's.

The episodes with Emma Peel, played by Diana Rigg were the most memorable.

Many of the episodes dealt him sci-fi, supernatural topics like an invisible man, death rays from Venus, etc. Its offbeat subject matters made it stand above other TV shows of that era. John Steed (Patrick MacNee) and his partner were government agents sent to investigate these unusual cases. The show can be seen as a forerunner of the X-Files.


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