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January 14, 2009


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Steve Winer

This one hit me hard. Growing up with Secret Agent and the Prisoner, I've long been fascinated by McGoohan. Looking at his work today, I can't decide if he's a great actor or just a great personality, but god, when he'e on screen you can't take your eyes off him.
If you haven't seen "All Night Long", the jazz update of "Othello", you should check out his astonishing "Iago" -- and he plays the drums along with the professional jazz men. He said he was basically faking, but you could have fooled me.


This will be at least the second time I've passed on this anecdote today, and it isn't even my own (obviously), but it's a story about McGoohan that Elmore Leonard likes to tell.

McGoohan was in an apparently disastrous adaptation of Leonard's novel "The Moonshine War". One day, Leonard had reason to be on the set, and McGoohan walked up to him and said, "What's it like to stand there and watch these people fuck up your words?"

Account Deleted

McGoohan and Montalban on the same day...sad news.

Pete Apruzzese

McGoohan - one of the greats. Certainly memorable for The Prisoner, Secret Agent, Dr. Syn, The Three Lives of Thomasina, and many others. Terrific as actor and director on Columbo episodes.

I've always wanted to see the feature he directed - Catch My Soul - a rock updating of Othello with Richie Havens. The few reviews I've seen are negative, but it still must be worth a look.

Tony Dayoub

Be seeing you, Number Six.

Owain Wilson

McGoohan gives a great performance in a little known British b-movie from 1957 called Hell Drivers. It's a melodramatic action flick about about a bunch of underpaid haulage drivers who compete for bonuses by making their runs dangerously fast.

It also stars Stanley Baker, Herbot Lom, and a very youthful Sean Connery.

Make an effort to check it out because McGoohan plays an INCREDIBLY nasty piece of work, a character you'll no doubt despise on sight, and you'll spend the rest of the movie absolutely hating his guts. He's fantastic!

Gabriel Ratchet

I always loved Secret Agent/Danger Man. It was the very model of astute low-budget filmmaking: a globe-trotting series mostly shot on backlots. All they needed was to throw some venetian blind shadows on the wall, the bring in a couple of pieces of rattan furniture, a potted palm or two, and a slowly rotating ceiling fan and, voila: you were in some Graham Greene-ish post-Colonial backwater.

And that's all you needed, because, let's face it, McGoohan's intensity as John Drake was all the realism you needed anyway.


I once met an LA-based actor/bartender who told me that McGoohan came to his bar each morning and drank through till lunchtime, silently. He also told me that McGoohan had, some years back, been told that one of his kids had an incurable illness. Refusing to accept it, he threw himself into amateur medical research and managed, after some years of labour, to find a cure for what ailed his kid. Then he started drinking again.

Right-wing Catholic nutjob and all as he allegedly was, I'm terribly sad to think I'll never get to meet him now.

David Koval

Glenn: No one gets the peace in death that eluded them in life because there is no peace in death; there is nothing in death. There is only life and it's hideous/sublime mixture of small shards of bliss and large chunks of suffering. I had a heart attack in 1982, at the age of 39. My heart stopped and I was clinically dead for at least five minutes, according to the doctors. I am here to report to you that there is nothing beyond this life. Nothing. The act of dying requires that you take on the properties of an appliance that has just been disconnected from its power source. The energy slowly drains from your body, your vision starts to tunnel, and it feels as if you are falling down into an endless hole, until there is no more light or sound. And then...nothing. That's how Patrick McGoohan spent the last moments of his life and that's how you will spend the last moments of your life, as well as everyone who reads this comment and everyone now living. So find your peace before this happens.

Bill C

^^Best comment ever.

Jesse Custer

Dear David Koval,

If there is, as you claim, 'nothing' after death then why does it matter whether a person believes in an afterlife or not? No one's going to be disappointed or feel like they've been had - they'll be dead, and won't have the option.

Just out of curiousity: Do you spend your Christmases warning children away from the lie of Santa Claus?

May we all find peace in our lives, and may we all live by the harmless little untruths that make us brave and kind and healthy and happy.

RIP, Mr. McGoohan.


What is, of course, a grower? A growler? A glowerer?

nora jones

i was 17 when the prisoner started and always loved patrick mcgoohan how many secret agents dont carry guns, he made john drake his own different from all other spy shows, he also didn,t bother with love scenes which made it family veiwing. we all talked about this handsome man at school he was our pinup. when he starred in the prisoner i felt i had to rescue him as he never gave up on his freedom, itried every way in my head as it was so believible i could not now he is free i will miss you patrick mcgoohan,john drake and number six, he also played david jones in ice station zebra,as i married a david jones i feel some how related the world has lost a gooden,itruely was your number one rip nora jones bromborough the wirral be seeing you in heaven patrick mcgoohan

Luke Trisella

questions are a burden to others,
answers are a prison for one's self


I can't say I have any first hand knowledge of Mr. McGoohan's state of mind or inner peace, but I have seen in several interviews that he was pretty pleased that his signature/immortal role was one that he himself created and guided in almost every way. Sort of like if Leonard Nimoy had created and written most of the Star Trek TOS episodes.

Michael Embley

Danger Man/Secret Agent is the only quasi-realistic (for the period) TV show about spies...you have to go to "The Sandbaggers" in the 80's to find anything similar. I spent six years in and around the secret world. I never had a gun, but I went to a lot of embassy parties, just like John Drake.


THE MOONSHINE WAR, directed by the perpetually underrated Richard Quine, was a damn good little film. If McGoohan hated it, that's his right, but let's remember it's his personal opinion, nothing more.

Glenn Kenny

@Cadavra: Quine's been one of my Subjects For Further Research of late, so that's a second reason to try and track this one down.


On the Quine tip, Bell, Book and Candle has always seemed to me to be significantly undervalued.


The strangest thing about The Moonshine War was that they entirely miscast McGoohan and Alda. They should have switched roles. Richard Widmark was in this too, so there's a third reason to watch it. ;-)

I can have no idea what McGoohan really thought about the movie (he often claimed never to watch his own stuff) but I imagine his comment was just a cynical line - like to any author having his book transmogrified to a movie. McGoohan did once comment that nobody seemed sure if the movie was a comedy, a drama or a satire. I felt exactly the same way when I watched it. I think it aimed at the sort of contemporary feel that 'Kelly's Heroes' had, but the director definitely missed the mark. Oh, and Lee Hazelwood made his only acting mark in this too.

Tom Siebert

When I was living with my grandfather in summer between my college years the early 1980s in Summit, NJ, every night I used to carry the small black and white TV set he had in his bedroom upstairs to the attic and fooled with the rabbit ears until I could get a mostly clear reception of "Secret Agent" on channel...21 was it?...every weekday night. I had seen reruns of "The Prisoner" on PBS my Sr. year in high school, and I thought Patrick McGoohan was the coolest actor ever -- much cooler than Sean Connery, even. Even now, I have all the DVDs of Danger Man/Secret Agent/The Prisoner, and while the sets and direction sometimes feel dated, his absolute magnetic presence makes every single episode worth watching. He's so raw, so tightly wound, sticking to his inner morality, the voice and muse that drives him, but you can tell it's not always easy, and that's what makes him so interesting.

I wish I knew he was so angry. Did he see the inner workings of the world, catch a glimpse of the powers that dictate news, style, fashion, and react with self-destructive disgust? It does seem that once the 1970s hit, he did not get the number of great roles he deserved, and burned intensely through a number of villainous roles (Silver Streak, Escape From Alcatraz, Braveheart, etc.). Why did he seemingly hate himself so? Does anyone know?

No matter what, his vision and his performances have burned their way into my consciousness. I applaud his life's work, and thank him for the hours of entertainment he provided me and many others. Godspeed, Patrick McGoohan. I hope you find peace and whatever answers you were looking for.


Yail Bloor

angry and self-hating, eh? isn't that pretty common with devout Catholics? isn't that what they're taught, to be self-loathing becaue of worldly temptations? gives the whole "Who is Number One/we're all Number One" thing new meaning. maybe The Prisoner is religious allegory in Cold War sheep's clothing. be seeing you, Number Six.

nora jones

no ,w the prisoner is back on the telly i am suddenly 17 again number six is now a young man again fighting for his freedom, it has not age one iota. i can rembember all the feelings i vented towards his enimies, i wish i could have sent him a hat pin for that ruddy balloon, all the people he trusted in the villiage let him down even though he go the better of them in the end. a tough man he was but with human flaw, in one episode that stick in my mind is the one about the man who was tortured, they deprived him of water and taunted him with a vending machine he cannot reach which leaves him begging mcgoohan looks on and you just get a fleeting glimps of his number six or mcgoohan shows another side of him just for a second my be, but it there sadness,compassion verging of love for a fellow human being. was he really acting? or deed he really feel this emotion? i know i did. look out for this episode and judge for yourself. so was he though guy? or kind man i know which id choose the latter i kind family man which i will never forget love to you patrick and for your family be seeing you again nora jones.

Mike Kriskey

angry and self-hating, eh? isn't that pretty common with devout Catholics? isn't that what they're taught, to be self-loathing becaue of worldly temptations?

In a word, no.

Cute Easy Hairstyles

Poor guy... but I do appreciate his work in acting!


Patrick was a man of both intregrity and intensity. One look in those hard eyes revealed a soul who was not interested in compromise, flattery or artifice. The world of mummers and fancy dress players willl be diminished for his exiting the stage.

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