Goodbye Patrick McGoohan (March 19th, 1928 - January 13th, 2009)

mvardoulis's picture
Submitted by mvardoulis on Tue, 2009-02-24 06:21

In Memory of a Prophetic and Profound Genius

(It's been over a month since his passing, and I'm still moved to tears writing this)

In the era of art reaching down to the lowest rather than reaching to achieve the highest, in an age when communication and media was just beginning to have global impact, at a time when literally everything was being called into question, one creative genius took the liberty of asking the right kind of questions. An individualist to the core, Patrick McGoohan spent his career as an actor, writer and director in projects which challenged oppressive authority, often becoming part of the 'counter culture' and at times becoming a 'counter' to the 'counter culture' of the day. Similarly, Mr. McGoohan took no role or project which compromised his personal morality and vision, he was a rare individual who did not separate artist from art. McGoohan's entire body of work speaks to his passion for the plight of the individual and his commitment to personal integrity. Nothing I can put into words can adequately express how much I admire and will miss this true gentleman.

Born in Astoria, Queens, NYC, Patrick moved back to his parent's home of Mullaghmore, County Leitrim, Ireland shortly after he was born. Seven years later, the family moved to Sheffield, England. At the age of 11, McGoohan was evacuated to Loughborough, Leicestershire, where he attended Ratcliffe College, excelling in mathematics and boxing. McGoohan began his career shortly after World War Two and discovered acting by way of being a stage-manager-turned-fill-in-actor at Sheffield Repertory Theater. McGoohan would spend his late teens and early twenties on stage and courting his wife of 58 years, Joan Drummond.

Between television stints and stage work, in the 1950's McGoohan performed his favorite role as Ibsen's *Brand* for which he not only wan an award but most clearly demonstrated the kind of hero McGoohan himself was: a man who resists the anti-individual collective with righteous indignation. Such is the classic McGoohan hero, later immortalized in the character of 'Number Six' from the greatest television show of all time, 1967's 'The Prisoner' which ran a mere 17 episodes yet was revolutionary in every way imaginable. McGoohan was a co-creator, and often writer, occasional director of the show where he was also the lead role. Patrick McGoohan's career later evolved into more critically acclaimed and award-winning projects in television, film, and stage where he as always, never compromised.

Quite selfishly, I had hoped to pierce Mr. McGoohan's well-known bubble of privacy long enough to personally thank him for the gift of his work, preferably over an Irish Whiskey at his favorite Santa Monica pub. IF I could have squeezed in even just a few moments of his wit and wisdom, I would have been all the more appreciative. A devout Catholic with a firm belief in the afterlife, I have to admit Patrick McGoohan is one of those figures who not only inspires me to want to believe in an afterlife by virtue of the credibility of his other convictions, but gives me a reason to want to show up in an afterlife provided he is there to share his creative insights through eternity. If Irish Whiskey is served there, then, all the better. Until then, Mr. McGoohan, I and the millions of people you have inspired with your life's work will miss you.

And we will never forget you.

"Be Seeing You"

( categories: )

No question...

mvardoulis's picture

...McGoohan was a Catholic mystic, as was Tolkien, BUT I honestly thing much of the confusion about McGoohan's perspective has to do with semantics. It's clear from McGoohan's work (and by the way, thanks for finding and posting those interviews, Marcus!) he equates 'ego' with 'megalomania' i.e., dictator-figures. You kind of have to look at McGoohan's work as a whole and the themes he is drawn to in order to recognize he may have been confused by mysticism but he's DEAD ON ACCURATE about political (totalitarianism) and philosophical (collectivism) evil.

And Sandi, "The Prisoner", like many of my geeky obsessions, is an acquired taste I freely admit. But I like watching cats, too. Eye

McGoohan was a poor confused soul...

Marcus's picture

...just like JRR Tolkien.

They were both Catholics and both produced works that are praised by Objectivists and Libertarians as representing the fight of the individual against the state (or authoritarian regime.)

However, just like Tolkien, McGoohan is all mixed up with his mystical anti-capitalist sensibilities. In his own opinion, the greatest evil in the world is the 'ego'.

Why do Objectivists always get sucked in to such films and pretend that this mystical subtext doesn't exist - over and over again?

That would require a separate essay on its own to explain.

Anyway, take McGoohan's own word for it, here in this rare interview about 'the Prisoner' he gave in the 1970's.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

I watched about the first 5 or 6 episodes

Sandi's picture

Before I decided that watching the cat watching moths was more entertaining.

OK, I'll give it a go.

Marcus's picture

Someone please jump in if they can tell me more about why this series is 'great', apart from just the obvious slogans.

Watch more, Marcus, it's a

Bosch Fawstin's picture

Watch more, Marcus, it's a great series, one that my mind naturally goes back to when I'm asked what I think is great television.

I am a free man!

Marcus's picture

I have watched one episode of 'the Prisoner' now and the more I find out about it, the more I think it is definitely not about human Liberty or a rational SOL. If anything, its themes are about the tensions between western values and mysticism (but ultimately not favouring either).

I do think it is entertaining as an action show, similar to 1960's 'the Avengers', but not really enlightening.

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