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Saturday 3 December 2016

Star of cult TV spy drama The Avengers dies aged 93

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Joanna Lumley, who plays Purdey, Patrick MacNee, who plays John Steed and Gareth Hunt, who plays Mike Gambit, during filming of The Avengers. Photo: PA Wire
Joanna Lumley, who plays Purdey, Patrick MacNee, who plays John Steed and Gareth Hunt, who plays Mike Gambit, during filming of The Avengers. Photo: PA Wire

Actor Patrick Macnee, star of the 1960s TV series The Avengers, has died aged 93.

His son Rupert said in a statement that Macnee died at his home in Rancho Mirage, California.

The British-born actor was best known as dapper secret agent John Steed in the long-running television series The Avengers.

His son said Macnee died of natural causes with his family at his bedside.

The Avengers, which began in 1961 in England, made its debut in the United States in 1966.

It ran for eight seasons and continued in syndication for decades afterward.

Macnee returned when the show was reprised in the 1970s.

A statement on the actor's website read: "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."

Married

The Avengers provided a permanent living for Macnee. He owned 2.5pc of the profits and the series continued to play worldwide into the 21st century.

He married actress Kate Woodville in 1965 but they divorced in 1969. His final marriage was to Baba Majos de Nagyzsenye in 1988.

Macnee, who captained torpedo boats during World War II, became an American citizen in 1959 and moved to Palm Springs in 1967, saying the dry desert air benefited his daughter, who suffered from asthma.

While he made his name internationally playing a smart, debonair British secret agent, Macnee was never a fan of the James Bond movies.

"I think their stories aren't that realistic," he told Salt Lake City's Deseret News in 1999. "I think the sadism in them is horrifying ... On the other hand, the James Bond books were fascinating."

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