R.I.P. Patrick McGoohan, Television Visionary

The timing is eerie, the news is sad. Last week, I interviewed Ian McKellen, Jim Caviezel and more actors from the upcoming reboot of Patrick McGoohan’s revolutionary TV series The Prisoner.

Yesterday, I posted a massive analysis of McGoohan, his groundbreaking show and its influential predecessor Danger Man. Shortly after it went live, McGoohan died in Los Angeles.

It’s a long story, but the news saddened me deeply. So I wrote an obituary today for Wired, and said my farewell. Read it and weep. I did.

“I am not a number, I am a free man!” Patrick McGoohan’s character Number Six shouted at the panoptic eye in the sky at the beginning of every episode of the revolutionary ’60s sci-fi TV series The Prisoner. And although the character would come to dominate McGoohan’s life and even chase him out of London following the series’ controversial 1968 finale, “Fall Out,” McGoohan is a prisoner no longer.

The actor died Tuesday in Los Angeles at the age of 80, a still-underrated legend whose influence will no doubt grow larger as this still-new millennium unfurls.

A cosmopolitan iconoclast in an entertainment world still teeming with conformists, McGoohan was known for both his brawn and brains, a rare combination. Born in Queens, New York, in 1928, his family soon moved to Ireland and eventually England, where McGoohan made his name.

He excelled in boxing and math at Ratcliffe College, and worked a variety of odd jobs before landing a gig as a stagehand at Sheffield Repertory Theatre, where he not only kick-started a brilliant stage career but also met the love of his life, actress Joan Drummond. According to popular lore, McGoohan continued to write her love letters even as old age beckoned, and remained loyal to his family until his final days.

This article appeared at WIRED

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