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Patrick Macnee, Star Of Cult TV Show 'The Avengers,' Dies At 93

Patrick Macnee and Diana Rigg in their roles as John Steed and Emma Peel in the television series <em>The Avengers </em>in 1967. Macnee died today in Rancho Mirage, Calif. He was 93.
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Patrick Macnee and Diana Rigg in their roles as John Steed and Emma Peel in the television series The Avengers in 1967. Macnee died today in Rancho Mirage, Calif. He was 93.

Patrick Macnee, the British-born actor best known for playing John Steed in the 1960s cult TV series The Avengers, died Thursday. He was 93.

Macnee died at his home in Rancho Mirage, Calif., of natural causes, his son, Rupert, said in a statement.

Macnee served in the Royal Navy in World War II and appeared on stage as well as in small parts in films, including Hamlet in 1948. But it was The Avengers for which he was most famous. In it, he portrayed John Steed, who donned a bowler hat and carried an umbrella, which sometimes concealed a weapon.

Here's The Associated Press:

"The clever spy drama, which began in 1961 in Britain, debuted in the United States in 1966. It ran for eight seasons and continued in syndication for decades afterward.

"Macnee's character appeared in all but two episodes, accompanied by a string of beautiful women who were his sidekicks. The most popular was likely Diana Rigg, who played sexy junior agent Emma Peel from 1965 to 1968. Honor Blackman played Catherine Gale from 1962 to 1964, and Linda Thorson was Tara King from 1968 to 1969."

The Avengers returned in the 1970s as The New Avengers, and Macnee reprised his role as Steed.

Macnee became a U.S. citizen in 1959 and moved to Palm Springs in 1967, the AP reports. He appeared in several notable films, including the cult classic This Is Spinal Tap, in which he played Sir Denis Eton-Hogg.

"A frequent guest on television talk shows around the world, Macnee was an ambassador for the tradition of the British gentleman, with his special brand of congeniality, humour and intelligence, his remarkable physical agility, and his unfailing good manners, sense of decency, and fair play," a statement on his website said. "His comments and responses to questions were laced with a tongue-in-cheek, somewhat subversive sense of irony, along with a lightning-fast wit."

Macnee is survived by a son Rupert Macnee and a daughter.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: June 24, 2015 at 11:00 PM CDT
A previous version of this story said Macnee's daughter is Katherine Woodville. Woodville is his former wife.
Krishnadev Calamur is NPR's deputy Washington editor. In this role, he helps oversee planning of the Washington desk's news coverage. He also edits NPR's Supreme Court coverage. Previously, Calamur was an editor and staff writer at The Atlantic. This is his second stint at NPR, having previously worked on NPR's website from 2008-15. Calamur received an M.A. in journalism from the University of Missouri.
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