Monday, January 19, 2009

Last week Patrick McGoohan, one of the most memorable figures in small screen history, passed away in Los Angeles. He was 80 years old, which somehow seems impossible, if only because the image of him at 40, the age he was while filming the 17 episodes of The Prisoner (which he also wrote, directed and starred in) is so indelibly burned into my brain. The character of “Number 6” became so iconic that it actually haunted McGoohan throughout his career, it seems that one does pay a hefty price for perfection. He did play other roles of course, like the lead in the pre-Prisoner UK series Danger Man, the warden in Escape From Alcatraz, and was there ever a creepier homicidal art dealer than the one he played opposite Richard Pryor in Silver Streak? But it’s that vision of our boy running down the beach in Portmeirion, Wales screaming “I am not a number -–I am a free man!” right before they once again capture him that stays with you forever. But like Martin Luther King who’s birthday we celebrate today; he too is finally free at last.


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