Avengers Star Patrick Macnee Dies Aged 93

Avengers Star Patrick Macnee Dies Aged 93

Actor Patrick Macnee, best known for playing agent John Steed in the TV series The Avengers, has died aged 93 in California.

Macnee, who also guest-starred in dozens of British, American and Australian TV productions throughout his career as well as a James Bond film, died of natural causes at his home in California with his family at his bedside, according to his son, Rupert.

Macnee appeared in The Avengers in the 60s with Ian Hendry, Honor Blackman, Diana Rigg and Linda Thorson, and between 1976-77 in The New Avengers with Joanna Lumley and Gareth Hunt.

He had lived in the US for the last 40 years, having taken American citizenship in the 1950s.

A statement paying tribute to him on his website said: "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.

"Wherever he went, he left behind a trove of memories and good wishes."

Macnee, the son of a racehorse trainer, grew up in Berkshire and was educated at Summerfields Preparatory School, where he acted in Henry V opposite a young Sir Christopher Lee.

He went on to Eton College, before training at London's Webber-Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art.

Macnee turned his hand to acting after serving in the Royal Navy in the Second World War, working at the Windsor Repertory Theatre and in a number of minor film roles, before moving to Canada and the US.

He found fame in the original Avengers series, playing Steed, the dapper British intelligence agent, throughout the original series from 1961 to 1969.

Steed rarely used a gun in the series, a decision Macnee explained by saying he had seen enough violence during his war service, preferring to rely on brains rather than brawn - although his umbrella doubled as a sword.

The Avengers was seen as having progressive views on feminism for its time. Steed's female partners tended to be independent and highly-educated women who were more likely to save the day themselves than act as damsels in distress.

In an interview with The Lady magazine last year, Macnee said: "The wonderful thing was it made women feel they didn't just belong in an apron in front of a stove cooking for the kids.

"It made them delight in the awareness that they could get out there and do it all, fight men, take on villains, all the kinds of stuff we showed in The Avengers.

"I'm very proud of what we achieved for women with The Avengers."

Macnee returned in the same role seven years later for The New Avengers, and appeared as the voice of Invisible Jones in the 1998 The Avengers film, which starred Ralph Fiennes and Uma Thurman.

He also starred on Broadway in Anthony Shaffer's Sleuth, touring internationally with that play and several other productions.

Macnee appeared in the 1985 James Bond film A View To A Kill with Sir Roger Moore. He played Bond ally and horse trainer Sir Godfrey Talbot.

Sir Roger said: "So very sad to hear Pat MacNee has left us.

"We were mates from 1950s and I have so many happy memories of working with him. A true gent."

His other films included cult heavy metal comedy This Is Spinal Tap and adventure film The Sea Wolves, alongside Moore, Gregory Peck and David Niven.

He was married three times, including to actress Katherine Woodville, who appeared alongside him in The Avengers.

He had two children, a son and a daughter, with his first wife Barbara Douglas, as well as one grandson.