- Patrick Macnee has died of natural causes in Rancho Mirage, California
- Best known for role as dapper British agent John Steed in The Avengers
- First acted in Shakespeare's Henry V at school alongside Christopher Lee
- Studied at Eton before serving in the Royal Navy in the Second World War
- Macnee is survived by two children and one grandchild
Avengers star Patrick Macnee has died of natural causes at his home in California at the age of 93.
According to a statement by the actor's son, Rupert, he passed away with his family at his bedside at his home in Rancho Mirage earlier today.
A star of both film and television, Macnee was best known for his role as the mysterious John Steed in 1960s show The Avengers alongside Diana Rigg.
Sir Roger Moore, who starred alongside Macnee in Bond film A View To A Kill, led tributes this evening, saying: 'So very sad to hear Pat MacNee has left us.
'We were mates from the 1950s and I have so many happy memories of working with him. A true gent.'
A statement on the actor's website says: 'As an actor, and as a production executive, Patrick Macnee was known for his unswerving professionalism, his loyalty, his intuitive creativity, his unaffected courtesy, and his understated humanity.
'[He] was a popular figure in the television industry. He was at home wherever in the world he found himself. He had a knack for making friends, and keeping them.
'Wherever he went, he left behind a trove of memories and good wishes.'
Born in 1922 and raised in Lambourn, Berkshire, his father Daniel was a racehorse trainer and his mother Dorothea was a niece to the 13th Earl of Huntington and was awarded a British Empire Medal for her work with military families.
He was educated at Summerfields Preparatory School, where he first acted in Henry V at the age of 11, with Sir Christopher Lee playing opposite him as the Dauphin.
From there he went to Eton College where he met comedian and author Michael Bentine, who remained a life-long friend.
After graduating he went on to train at London's Webber-Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art, where he met and married Barbara Douglas, aged 19, and they had two children, Rupert and Jenny.
With the outbreak of the Second World War, he enlisted in the Royal Navy and was eventually promoted to the rank of Sub-Lieutenant, acting as a navigator on board torpedo boats in the English Channel and North Sea.
Before taking on his role in The Avengers (pictured alongside co-star Diana Rigg), Macnee worked for years in American and Canadian television before returning to London
Macnee first acted at Summerfields Preparatory School in Shakespeare's Henry V opposite Christopher Lee, who played the Dauphin, before going on to study at Eton
Asked which of his female co-stars he had liked the most, Macnee replied: 'The very first thing you learn if you're a gentleman is that you never compare one woman to another. That's the way of all death'
Though he didn't know it yet, all of this was perfect preparation for his later role. The character description for John Wickham Gascoyne Berresford Steed reveals he was also born in the 20s, educated at Eton, and served in the War.
After the conflict ended, Macnee spent his time in London visiting the casting offices every day in the hope of picking up his first major role, even resorting to hanging out near the entrances to London's smarter restaurants and hotels in hope of 'running into' a noted producer.
For a time he acted at The Windsor Repertory Theatre, in London's West End, and went on tours in Germany and the United States.
He also accepted some minor film roles, including that of Young Marley in Alastair Sim's classic version of A Christmas Carol.
Early in 1950 he was invited to travel to Canada by friend David Greene, a director friend at CBC in Toronto, and he left England within 48 hours to work overseas.
Despite his typically English exteriror, Macnee actually spent a large part of his adult life working in the U.S., taking minor roles on American TV shows.
He only returned to the UK in the 1960s in order to take on his defining role as John Steed as The Avengers began shooting in London.
Macnee's character appeared in all but two episodes, accompanied by a string of beautiful women who were his sidekicks.
Macnee was educated at Eton and served in the Royal Navy during the Second World War, which turned out to be perfect preparation for the part of John Steed - who was also supposed to have studied at Eton, and fought against the Nazis
While Macnee's co-stars (pictured here with Joanna Lumley and Gareth Hunt in The New Avengers) often used guns, John Steed never wielded a weapon and was known for his skill with an umbrella
Despite being a sex symbol, Macnee said he missed missed most of the Swinging Sixties due to being locked in a studio filming from 5.30am to 9.30pm five days a week
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.
In his final interview in The Lady magazine, he was asked which of the three he found the most appealing.
He replied: 'The very first thing you learn if you're a gentleman is that you never compare one woman to another. That's the way of all death.
'You get a big pointed high heel in your groin and you'll never walk again!'
Speaking about his role as a surprise Sixties sex symbol, he added: ‘I missed so much of the Swinging Sixties by working.
From 1961 to 1969 I got up at 4.30am, a car came for me at 5.30am and I was taken to our studio at Teddington or Elstree and we filmed until I got home at 9.30pm, five days a week.
'I spent most of the Sixties in a giant shed filming even though I lived around the corner from the King’s Road in Chelsea.’
Macnee was married three times and first tied the knot aged 19 to Barbara Douglas, with whom he had two children. He went on to marry Catherine Woodville (pictured) and Baba Majos de Nagyzsenye
Sir Roger Moore has led tributes to Macnee, saying: 'So very sad to hear Pat MacNee has left us. We were mates from the 1950s and I have so many happy memories of working with him. A true gent'
After the original show finished in 1969, Macnee became a frequent guest on television talk shows around the world, famed for his traditional British humour and intelligence.
He went on to star in Bond film A View To A Kill alongside Roger Moore, as well as The Howling and The Sea Wolves, which Moore also starred in.
Author and playwright Bonnie Greer added: 'When I was a kid, some folks were 'one of us' - Leonard Nimoy and Patrick Macnee. Dude of dudes. RIP Patrick Macnee.'
Goodness Gracious Me actor Sanjeev Bhaskar paid a warm tribute to Macnee on Twitter, saying: 'RIP Patrick Macnee. The Avengers also warm and wonderful foil to Sir Roger Moore in several films and Spinal Tap. Epitome of the British Gent.'
After The Avengers, Macnee continued to appear on stage and screen, starring opposite Roger Moore in James Bond movie A View To A Kill
Raised in Lambourn, Berkshire, Macnee spent the last 40 years of his life at his home in Coachella Valley in California, where he died today with his family by his bedside
He took a turn on stage in Anthony Shaffer's Sleuth, which saw him take off on an international tour, and also penned two books based on The Avengers, alongside an autobiography.
In the 70s he returned to television in order to reprise the character of John Steed in The New Avengers, alongside Joanna Lumley and Gareth Hunt.
He guest-starred and played continuing roles in numerous American, British and Australian television productions.
He recorded numerous audio books, including thirteen Jack Higgins titles, and voice-over narrations for the four hour mini-series 'America at War in Color' and many others.
He was married three times but pre-deceased by all his wives. He is survived by two children and one grandchild.
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