April 17, 2017 — Patrick Macnee was best-known for his performance as John Steed, the unflappable British secret agent of The Avengers, a role he would play from 1961 through 1969, and then again in the television spin-off, The New Avengers in 1977-1978.
The character of John Steed was suave, elegant, thoroughly eccentric and always perfectly dressed in neo-Edwardian attire. Macnee was deeply involved in the creation of Steed’s look and clothing. Oddly, for a man so closely associated with beautiful clothing, Macnee was an enthusiastic nudist.
He was the constant in the immensely popular show; his female partners, Honor Blackman (Goldfinger, Green Grow the Rushes), Diana Rigg (Game of Thrones, Theater of Blood, Witness for the Prosecution, A Hazard of Hearts), Linda Thorson (Straight into Darkness, Sweet Liberty) and, in The New Avengers, Joanna Lumley (Ab Fab) would come and go. He never broke a sweat, he never uttered an uncouth word and, after the first season, he never carried a gun (Macnee explained “I’d just come out of a World War in which I’d seen most of my friends blown to bits.”). Through most of the series, the most dangerous weapon he would carry was an umbrella with a stiletto knife in the handle.
Although he was too much of a gentleman to say which of his leading ladies was his favorite, it was with Diana Rigg (as Emma Peel) that the series became a cult favorite; it was the shows he did with her, with their unexplained but sexually-charged relationship, that continue to be the favorites some fifty years later.
But the remarkable popularity of the show would eventually prove a detriment to his career. He was so closely associated with the role of John Steed that the public had difficulty seeing him as anyone or anything else. He would act in numerous television shows and some movies, usually as some variant of his John Steed persona, throughout the years.
In 1997 he would release six popular television specials entitled Patrick Macnee’s Ghost Stories. These six shows concern places that are said to be haunted.
Episode One, The London Underworld & Beyond, has segments which include The Screaming Tower, Real Life Poltergeist, Lady in White, You Can’t Take it With You and Railroad Spirits.
Episode Two, The Poltergeists, includes segments entitled Alamo Spirits, Spirits in Our Midst, Ghosts Behind Bars, Harriet’s Ghost, Banning Ghost and Hotel Hell.
Episode Three, called Spirits, Graveyards & Ghostbusters includes segments called Red Feather, Legend of Moody’s Light, Spirit Investigators, From the Other Side, Shadows of Chicago, Spirits Among Us and Star Struck Spirits.
Episode Four, Hollywood Ghosts , includes Hollywood Ghosts, Hollywood Sign Suicide, Elizabeth Short, Joan Crawford’s House, Marilyn Monroe and Afterlife.
Episode Five, The Wild West of the Dead, includes Old West, Big Nose Kate’s, Tombstone Spirits, Emily Morton, Historical Quirks, Calico.
Episode Six, The Dead and the Restless, includes Wandering Spirits, Legends, Tofu Seller’s Wives, Native American Spirits, Nigerian Ghosts, The Dybbuk and Origins of Ghost Stories.
Stream Patrick Macnee’s Ghost Stories, but dress (or undress) for the occasion.