Culture: January 2009 Archives

Be seeing you, Number 6

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Earlier this week, actor Patrick McGoohan died at the age of 80. He created and starred in the late '60s series The Prisoner. I caught glimpses of the show as a four or five year old when it first aired in the US -- Dad watched it -- and I was terrified by the sight and sound of Rover.

When I was in high school, it was shown on public TV. I was hooked, and so was a classmate of mine. He and I weren't friends otherwise, but after we learned of our mutual interest in the show, he'd call after an episode to talk about it. When the last two episodes were aired, there was a lot to talk about. It ran in Boston during my senior year in college, and several of us took to using the "Be seeing you" salute, just for fun. During a business trip to Shropshire in 1999, I made a point of visiting Portmeirion, the Italianate village on the west coast of Wales, used as the setting for the series. (Number 6's place is now a gift shop.)

I read somewhere that McGoohan was in line to play Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings films or Dumbledore in the Harry Potter movies but ill health prevented him from taking either role.

As I mentioned over at The Judge Report, McGoohan was married to the same woman for over 50 years, his first and only wife, and insisted that his on-screen characters would never so much as kiss another woman, a stipulation that ruled out playing Simon Templar and James Bond. It would be interesting to know something about his faith and how it influenced his ethics and his artistic vision. So far I've seen nothing on that, but, as we know, "the press doesn't get religion." (I did find this mention, at Reason's website of all places, that McGoohan was a devout Roman Catholic.)

Ricardo Montalban, who also died this week, is another rare example of a Hollywood actor with a long marriage. He had been married for 63 years, from 1944 until his wife's death in 2007. Mark Evanier has an anecdote about a sketch he wrote for Montalban's cameo on a short lived comedy series. Montalban didn't care for the sketch, but why he didn't like it and how he went about making his objections known are remarkable for Hollywood.

I suppose most people will remember Montalban as Mr. Rourke on Fantasy Island. I'll remember him for his role as Khan in Star Trek II, perhaps the greatest of the great even-numbered movies, and for his role as the grandfather in Spy Kids 2 and 3, movies my kids have watched over and over again. By that time, a spinal injury from the '50s was causing him so much pain that he was confined to a wheelchair, and he appeared in the wheelchair in both films. But in Spy Kids 3, in which the characters wind up in a video game, director Robert Rodriguez used the magic of CGI to put Montalban back on his own two feet.

As we get closer to the debut of AMC's new version of The Prisoner, starring Jim Caviezel, the network has placed all 17 of the original episodes on its website for streaming, along with photos and trivia.

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This page is a archive of entries in the Culture category from January 2009.

Culture: December 2008 is the previous archive.

Culture: February 2009 is the next archive.

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