Patrick McGoohan, the Emmy-winning actor who created and starred in cult classic television show “The Prisoner,” died Tuesday in Los Angeles after a short illness. He was 80.McGoohan won two Emmys for his work on the Peter Falk detective drama “Columbo” and appeared as King Edward Longshanks in the 1995 Mel Gibson film “Braveheart.”
But he was most famous as the character known only as Number Six in “The Prisoner,” a sci-fi tinged 1960s British series in which a former spy is held captive in a small enclave known only as the Village, where a mysterious authority named Number One constantly prevents his escape.
McGoohan came up with the concept and wrote and directed several episodes of the show, which has retained a devoted following in the U.S. and Europe for four decades.
Born in New York, McGoohan was raised in England and Ireland, where his family moved shortly after his birth. He had a busy stage career before moving to television, and won a London Drama Critics Award for playing the title role in Ibsen’s “Brand.”
His first foray into TV was in 1964 in the series “Danger Man,” a more straightforward spy show that initially lasted just one season but was later brought back for three more when its popularity — and McGoohan’s — exploded in reruns.
Weary of playing the show’s lead, John Drake, McGoohan pitched to producers the surreal and cerebral “The Prisoner” to give himself a challenge.
The series ran just one season and 17 episodes in 1967, but its cultural impact endures.
He voiced his Number Six character in an episode of “The Simpsons” in 2000. “The Prisoner” is being remade as a series for AMC that premieres later this year.
McGoohan won Emmys for guest spots on “Columbo” 16 years apart, in 1974 and 1990.
He also appeared as a warden in the 1979 Clint Eastwood film “Escape From Alcatraz,” as a judge in the 1996 John Grisham courtroom drama “A Time to Kill” and in other films such as “Ice Station Zebra,” “Mary Queen of Scots” and “Silver Streak.”
His last major role was in “Braveheart” as the brutal king who battles Scottish freedom fighter William Wallace, played by Gibson.
McGoohan is survived by his wife, former actress Joan Drummond; three daughters, including actress Catherine McGoohan; and five grandchildren.