Patrick Macnee

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Patrick Macnee (born 6 February 1922) is an English actor, best known for his role as the secret agent John Steed in the series The Avengers.


Early life

Macnee, the older of two sons (he has a younger brother, James), was born Daniel Patrick Macnee in Paddington, London,[1] the son of Dorothea Mary (née Henry) and Daniel "Shrimp" Macnee, a race horse trainer.[2] His maternal grandmother was Frances Alice Hastings, who descended from the Earls of Huntingdon - Macnee has long suggested that he may be a distant relation of Robin Hood, sometimes said to have been a black sheep of the Huntingdon family. Macnee's great-grandfather was Scottish portrait artist Sir Daniel Macnee.

His parents divorced after his mother declared her lesbianism and had a live-in partner (referred to in Macnee's memoirs, Blind in One Ear: The Avenger Returns, as "Uncle Evelyn") who helped pay for young Patrick's schooling. He was educated at Eton College, was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the Royal Navy and was awarded the Atlantic Star for his service during World War II. After nurturing his acting career in Canada, Macnee appeared in supporting roles in a number of films, notably as an extra in Sir Laurence Olivier's Hamlet (1948) [3], in the Gene Kelly vehicle Les Girls (as an Old Bailey barrister) and opposite Anthony Quayle in the 1956 war movie The Battle of the River Plate. He had a small role in the 1951 version of Scrooge (A Christmas Carol in the US) as the young Jacob Marley.

“The Avengers”

Despite numerous roles in theatre, on television and in cinema, Macnee is still best known as John Steed in the series The Avengers (broadcast from 1961 to 1969). The series was conceived as a vehicle for Ian Hendry who played the lead role. Steed was the secondary character, the assistant to Hendry's character. Steed became the lead after Hendry's departure at the end of the first season. He played opposite a succession of female partners who included Honor Blackman, Diana Rigg, and finally Linda Thorson. Steed was also the central character of a revival, The New Avengers, in which he was teamed with Purdey (Joanna Lumley) and Mike Gambit (Gareth Hunt).

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