goodbye number six

The Beat will surely have more on this later, given her love of the Prisoner. This is just a newsflash until she posts later.

The AP story:

LOS ANGELES – Patrick McGoohan, an Emmy-winning actor who created and starred in the cult classic television show “The Prisoner,” has died. He was 80.

McGoohan died Tuesday in Los Angeles after a short illness, his son-in-law, film producer Cleve Landsberg, said Wednesday.

McGoohan won two Emmys for his work on the Peter Falk detective drama “Columbo,” and more recently appeared as King Edward Longshanks in the 1995 Mel Gibson film “Braveheart.”

But he was best known as the title character Number Six in “The Prisoner,” a surreal 1960s British series in which a former spy is held captive in a small village and constantly tries to escape.

Posted by Mark Coale


  1. Damn.

    It is ironic as hell: yesterday I watched “Arrival” and spent a couple of hours listening to the soundtrack. Just a bizarre coincidence.

    The Prisoner is a beautiful, classic show. So cold, calculating and yet very human. Number Six is an incredible character. And Rover scared the hell out of me as a child.

    Imagine, in our current environment of Lost, Deadwood, Battlestar Galactica and The Sopranos, what McGoohan might have created in today’s new golden age of television. If only HBO and Showtime would have existed back then.

    He was ahead of his time.

    Be seeing you.

  2. I just logged on to your site to tell you this but I see you’ve already reported the sad news. I think most of us expected him to be around for a few more years yet. 80 is not that old in this day and age.

    The UK tv station itv4 has recently begun repeating The Prisoner again, which still stands up as great television even after 40 years.

  3. Well this certainly put a damper on my birthday celebration….

    I’ll also fondly remember him as the Phantom’s dad in that great Phantom movie Paramount put out over a decade ago.

    Which technically also made him a Phantom, too.




  4. Aww, damn. After years of wanting to see the Prisoner, I finally start watching it on AMC and appreciating the genius of McGoohan… and now we’ve lost him.

  5. “All that remains is…recognition of a man.”

    Considering how much LOST has referenced THE PRISONER, it would be a nice gesture if they would dedicate their fifth season premiere episode in memory of McGoohan.

  6. That show was so cool, even Jack Kirby took a crack at doing a PRISONER comic book series (which I believe was never officially printed outside of some pencil pages in THE JACK KIRBY COLLECTOR).

    By the way, at the AMC Web site, they’ve posted all 17 of the original episodes, in anticipation of their remake series. A handy way to refresh our collective memory.

  7. I first leaned of the Prisoner upon reading an issue of STARLOG (don’t laugh, you read it too) reviewing Sci-Fi videos. I rented the episodes (one per tape) at the local Video Rental hut, devouring them completely. My love for Patrick McGoohan began after watching those wonderful 17 hours.
    I loved just about anything he was in — Ice Station Zebra, Braveheart, et al. McGoohan had an extraordinary presence and talent to spare. I think that it’s kind of a shame he wasn’t more universally known. Regardless of his popularity here in the U.S., it’s nice to know we had him to entertain us for all those years. A good life lived.

  8. I’m with Peter Krause. I loved Secret Agent, and always thought that Number Six was that agent. And I loved Ice Station Zebra.

    And McGoohan also was Dr. Syn in The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh,

    This is sad news. He was YOUNG, no older than my own parents.

  9. Patrick McGoohan has always been my fave actor. I have the Prisoner series and also have Thomasina, a wonderful Disney film. The Rover scared me as a child, but what really terrified me more than anything was the scarecrow of Romney Marsh!

  10. Oh dear. Well, I guess he really is a free man, now.

    We watched “Secret Agent” when I was a little girl, and then “The Prisoner” when it came out. Like Kat, I conflated the two and always thought that the Prisoner *was* the Secret Agent. And then I was so excited to see him with Susan Hampshire in “The Three Lives of Thomasina,” a rather odd Disney film he made about the same time.


    So talented and so compelling. What sad news.

  11. As the story goes, if they anyone “official” ever called Number Six, “Drake,” McGoohan would have owed royalties to Ralph Smart (the guy behind Dangerman/Secret Agent). Perhaps the “wink, wink” can go out of the equation with nobody left to sue?

  12. Cary: you loved The Phantom movie, too? [Kevin Smith/] Awesomel! You’re my heterosexual life-partner, bro! [/Kevin Smith]

  13. I remember when I was a young writer, about ten years ago, I was walking down the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica with my writing partner, and I noticed a very bearded McGoohan walking by himself, puffing a thin cigar. I never do this, but knowing it would be my only chance (he must’ve been in town for the AFM film market), I caught up with him and did the “Sorry, I’m a huge fan, I wanted to thank you” thing…

    He silently peered at me with those flinty blue eyes, and I got a nervous lump in my throat. He looked at my hands, which held a script I was working on, and said in that clipped brogue of his “What’s that?” “Oh, it’s nothing, it’s just a script I’m writing-” “Let me have a look at it.”

    At this point, I about dumped myself. I handed over the script, and he, in turn, walked over to a large trashcan. For a moment I thought he was going to toss it in. But he laid the script on the edge of the trashcan, opened to the first page and started reading. My partner and I stood there, anxiously, as one of my writing heroes scanned my work in the middle of the crowded Promenade.

    As he finished (the rather wordy and screen-direction laden) first page, he looked into my eyes and said.

    “I know what you’re doing.” (pause) “And I like it.”

    He smiled, handed the script back to me, puffed on his French cigar, and was off (after I got him to autograph the title page).

    Be seeing you, Number Six. You’re the man.

  14. Patrick – I salute you. From the early years on the Bristish stage, to Thomasina and the mists of Romney Marsh, Danger Man and Secret Agent Man, The Prisoner and Longshanks – you were always the best and you mesmerized us all. God bless and rest in peace. You are missed already.