Friday 26 April 2019

Star of 'Prisoner' TV show McGoohan dies

Ian Johnston and Brendan Farrelly

The actor Patrick McGoohan, who was the star of two of the most iconic television series of the 1960s, and who spent his early childhood in County Leitrim, has died.

McGoohan was best known as the creator and star of the surreal 1960s television series 'The Prisoner' and 'Danger Man'. He died in Los Angeles on Tuesday at the age of 80 after a short illness.

He was born in New York City in March, 1928. His parents had emigrated to the US, but decided to return home to Ireland shortly after he was born.

Thomas and Rose Fitzpatrick McGoohan settled in Co Leitrim on a farm that produced little or nothing on poor soil.

McGoohan, who wanted to be a Catholic priest until his was 15, said later of his childhood, "My father did not take to the pace of New York. He farmed in Ireland in Co Leitrim, the poorest county in Ireland. It's only export is people. He made the farm go for eight years and then they emigrated again, this time to England."

The actor later recalled that his mother had promised God before he was born that if her first child was a boy he would become a priest.

He continued his connection with Ireland later in life appearing in a film version of 'The Quare Fellow' and more recently appearing as King Edward Longshanks in the 1995 Mel Gibson film, 'Braveheart'.

His son-in-law, the producer Cleve Landsberg, said the man who gave the '60s one of its most popular rallying calls -- "I am not a number, I am a free man!" -- had suffered a short illness and died on Tuesday.


McGoohan also won two Emmy Awards for his work on the detective drama 'Columbo'. But he is best remembered for his performances in 'The Prisoner', an updated version of which will be shown on ITV this year.

McGoohan's character found himself in The Village without a name -- he was referred to as Number Six -- and without any memory of how he got there. His attempts to escape, find out who he is or even where he is were continually thwarted.

He wrote several of the episodes under the name Paddy Fitz and also worked as a director and executive producer on the show, which reflected the cynicism he felt about consumerism in the real world and people's willingness to accept authority.

In a 1977 interview, he railed against the system: “We’re run by the Pentagon, we’re run by Madison Avenue, we’re run by television and as long as we accept those things and don’t revolt we’ll have to go along with the stream to the eventual avalanche.” (© Independent News Service)

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