Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Everywhere He Goes, He Stays A Stranger

To hell with politics - Patrick McGoohan is dead.

That's right, The Prisoner. Dead at age 80, pictured here last week outside his Los Angeles home. Woulda made a great Number 2, I think.

McGoohan, if you don't know, played heavies in BRAVEHEART and SILVER STREAK but is best known for two TV series in the sixties, THE PRISONER and DANGER MAN, broadcast on these shores as SECRET AGENT. His TV work is magnificent, surprising and a continual revelation even today. In an era when spies were cool, witty and urbane, more interested in the good life and blowing stuff up than in actual, you know, spying, McGoohan's John Drake was straight out of Le Carre territory. Modest, strictly moral, and nearly driven insane by the demands of his clandestine life. 

There was always something of the nut-canister full of snakes about McGoohan. You never knew when the lid might come off and he'd pop into your face, but you always knew it was coming, and the lid wasn't securely fastened. This was especially true of THE PRISONER, which was among other things a seventeen-episode nervous breakdown. He was more under control in DANGER MAN, a kind of MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E for adults. If Drake had been partnered with Napoleon Solo, McGoohan would have had to hiss this line every episode: "Keep your head down, for pity's sake." 

McGoohan was a reminder that spying was serious, ugly business, morally treacherous and personally devastating. James Bond, by comparison, was a state-sponsored terrorist with a sex addiction problem.

We shall not see his mercurial like again, I fear. I raise a cup of tea to you, Paddy, and here's hoping it isn't spiked. 


Publius said...

Man, Patrick AND Ricardo Montaban gone so close together.

Secret Agent man AND Kahn dead.

You know, ALL my favorite entertainment icons are dying lately. I feel so old.

Skot said...

Both of these guys were awesome heavies. It's all in the voice, if ya ask me: McGoohan's clipped Kentish snarl and Montalban's silky smooth with an almost unidentifiable accent.

They both had interesting cartoon-voice turns, McGoohan reprsing his number 6 character on "The Simpsons," where he builds a raft made out of scabs and dynamite.

Montalban did a lot of voice work recently, most notably as billionaire villain SeƱor Senior Sr. on "Kim Possible." Of course.

And why is this here and not over on TPN::BOW?

Danielk said...

Same reason I haven't brought up Montalban - it's a terrible black hole for people our age, writing about the cultural icons who died. We'd never stop. Besides, obits are less about business and more about star personalities.