Patrick Magee (actor)

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Patrick Magee
Patrick Magee, Dementia 13, 1963.jpg
Magee in Dementia 13 (1963)
Born
Patrick George McGee

(1922-03-31)31 March 1922[1]
Armagh, County Armagh, Northern Ireland
Died14 August 1982(1982-08-14) (aged 60)
London, England
Citizenship
  • United Kingdom
  • Ireland
EducationSt Patrick's Grammar School, Armagh
Occupation
  • Actor
  • Stage director
Years active1959–1982
Spouse
Belle Sherry
(m. 1958)
Children2
AwardsTony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play
1966 Marat/Sade

Patrick George Magee (née McGee, 31 March 1922 – 14 August 1982) was a Northern Irish actor.[2] He was noted for his collaborations with playwrights Samuel Beckett and Harold Pinter, sometimes called "Beckett's favorite actor,"[3] as well as creating the role of the Marquis de Sade in the original stage and screen productions of Marat/Sade.

Known for his distinctive voice, he also appeared in numerous horror films and in two Stanley Kubrick films[4]A Clockwork Orange (1971) and Barry Lyndon (1975) – and three Joseph Losey films – The Criminal (1960), The Servant (1963) and Galileo (1975). He was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company from 1964 to 1970.

Critic Antonia Quirke posthumously described him as "a presence so full of strangeness and charisma and difference and power,"[5] while scholar Conor Carville wrote that Magee was "[an] avant-garde bad-boy" and "very important and unjustly forgotten figure who represents an important aspect of the cultural ferment of the 1960s and 1970s in Britain."[6]

Biography[edit]

McGee (he changed the spelling of his surname to Magee when he began performing, most likely to avoid confusion with another actor) was born into a middle-class Catholic family at 2 Edward Street, Armagh, County Armagh.[7] The eldest of five children, he was educated at St. Patrick's Grammar School.

Stage acting[edit]

His first stage experience in Ireland was with Anew McMaster's touring company, performing the works of Shakespeare. It was here that he first worked with Pinter. He was then brought to London by Tyrone Guthrie for a series of Irish plays. He met Beckett in 1957 and soon recorded passages from the novel, Molloy, and the short story, From an Abandoned Work, for BBC radio. Impressed by "the cracked quality of Magee's distinctly Irish voice," Beckett requested copies of the tapes and wrote Krapp's Last Tape especially for the actor.[8] First produced at the Royal Court Theatre in London on 28 October 1958, the play starred Magee directed by Donald McWhinnie. A televised version with Magee directed by McWhinnie was later broadcast by BBC2 on 29 November 1972.[9] Beckett's biographer Anthony Cronin wrote that "there was a sense in which, as an actor, he had been waiting for Beckett as Beckett had been waiting for him."[10]

In 1964, he joined the Royal Shakespeare Company, after Pinter, directing his own play The Birthday Party, specifically requested him for the role of McCann, and stated he was the strongest in the cast. In 1965 he appeared in Peter Brook's production of Weiss' Marat/Sade, and when the play transferred to Broadway he won a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play.[4] He also appeared in the 1966 RSC production of Staircase opposite Paul Scofield. In 1969, he played Inspector Hawkins in the RSC's original production of Dutch Uncle. His last play with the Company was Battle of Shrivings in 1970, at the Lyric Theatre, under the direction of Peter Hall.

In 1970, he played Daniel Webster in Scratch, a Broadway adaptation of The Devil and Daniel Webster by Archibald MacLean.

Film career[edit]

Early film roles included Joseph Losey's The Criminal (1960) Dementia 13 (1963) and The Servant (1963), the latter an adaptation scripted by Pinter. He also appeared as Surgeon-Major Reynolds in Zulu (1964), Séance on a Wet Afternoon (1964), Anzio (1968), and in the film versions of Marat/Sade (1967; as de Sade) and The Birthday Party (1968). He is perhaps best known for his role as the victimised writer Frank Alexander, who tortures Alex DeLarge with Beethoven's music, in Stanley Kubrick's film A Clockwork Orange (1971). His other role for Kubrick was as Redmond Barry's mentor, the Chevalier de Balibari, in Barry Lyndon (1975). He reprised his role as the Marquis de Sade in the 1966 film adaptation of Marat/Sade, also directed by Peter Brook.

Magee also appeared in King Lear (1971), Young Winston (1972), The Final Programme (1973), Galileo (1975), Sir Henry at Rawlinson End (1980) and Chariots of Fire (1981), but was most often seen in horror films. These included the early Francis Ford Coppola outing Dementia 13 (1963), Roger Corman's The Masque of Red Death (1964), and the Boris Karloff vehicle Die, Monster, Die! (1965) for AIP; The Skull (1965), Tales from the Crypt (1972), Asylum (1972), and And Now the Screaming Starts! (1973) for Amicus Productions; Demons of the Mind (1972) for Hammer Film Productions; Lucio Fulci's The Black Cat (1981), and Walerian Borowczyk's Docteur Jekyll et les femmes (1981), which proved his final film role.

Personal life[edit]

Magee married Belle Sherry, also a native of County Armagh, in 1958. The couple had two children, twins Mark and Caroline (born February 1961), and remained together until Magee's death.

He was known as something of a "hellraiser." He often struggled with bouts of alcoholism and gambling that hurt his finances, and often compromised his professional relationships.[6]

He was a staunch Irish republican, and an active campaigner for left-wing social and political causes. In 1976, he played an instrumental role in persuading his union Equity to boycott South Africa over the country's apartheid legislation.[11]

Death[edit]

A heavy drinker, Magee died from a heart attack at his flat in Fulham, southwest London, on 14 August 1982 at the age of 60, according to obituaries in The Glasgow Herald and The New York Times.[12]

Legacy[edit]

Conor Carville, of the University of Reading, wrote of Magee:[3]

"[Magee] is a very important and unjustly forgotten figure who represents an important aspect of the cultural ferment of the 1960s and 1970s in Britain. The persona he had off-stage was that of a hell raiser, and this blended into the roles he was cast in. He was at the forefront of theatrical and cinematic experiment of the time, and yet, as a BBC stalwart on both radio and TV and a West End actor, he was also ensconced in the mainstream. As well as this, his immersion in the new British horror genre meant he moved in underground circles. My research has revealed an undercurrent of desperation in his career, as he took on such roles for the income they provided. It is this multifaced character that makes Magee a lightning rod for the tensions and contradictions of his era."

On 29 July 2017, actor Stephen Rea, who appeared alongside Patrick Magee in a production of Samuel Beckett's play Endgame, unveiled a blue plaque commemorating Magee's birthplace at 2 Edward Street, Armagh.[13][14]

Partial stage credits[edit]

Year Title Role Director Original venue Notes Ref.
1948 Mountain Post Maton R.H. MacCandless Ulster Group Theatre, Belfast [15]
1949 Bannister's Cafe Walter Bannister Himself Also director [16]
1950 The Square Peg Reverend Alexander McCrea Himself [17]
1951 The Passing Day Hind Tyrone Guthrie Ambassadors Theatre, London Credited as 'Pat Magee' [18]
1955-56 The Queen and the Rebels Peasant Frank Hauser Theatre Royal Haymarket, London [19]
1956 The Shadow of a Gunman Adolphus Gregson John Gibson New Lindsey Theatre Club, London [20]
1958 Krapp's Last Tape Krapp Donald McWhinnie Royal Court Theatre, London [21]
1959 The Buskers Max Toby Robertson Arts Theatre, London [22]
1959-60 Rosmersholm George Devine Royal Court Theatre, London [23]
1961 Progress to the Park Mr. Laughlin Ted Kotcheff Grand Theatre, Blackpool [24]
A Whistle in the Dark Michael Carney Sr. Edward Burnham Theatre Royal Stratford East, London For Theatre Workshop [25]
1964 The Birthday Party McCann Harold Pinter Aldwych Theatre, London For Royal Shakespeare Company [26]
Afore Night Come Roche Clifford Williams [27]
Endgame Hamm Donald McWhinnie [28]
Marat/Sade Marquis de Sade Peter Brook [29]
1965 Mr Puntila and his Man Matti Matti Altonen Michel Saint-Denis [30]
Hamlet Ghost of Old Denmark Peter Hall Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon [31]
Marat/Sade Marquis de Sade Peter Brook Aldwych Theatre, London [32]
1965-66 Martin Beck Theatre, New York City Won Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play [33]
1966 The Meteor Wolfgang Schwitter Clifford Williams Aldwych Theatre, London For Royal Shakespeare Company [34]
Staircase Harry Leeds Peter Hall Theatre Royal, Brighton [35]
Aldwych Theatre, London [35]
1966-67 Marat/Sade Marquis de Sade Donald Driver Majestic Theatre, Broadway [36]
1967 Keep It in the Family Frank Brady Allan Davis Plymouth Theatre, Broadway [37]
1969 Dutch Uncle Inspector Hawkins Peter Hall Theatre Royal, Brighton For Royal Shakespeare Company [38]
Aldwych Theatre, London [38]
1970 Battle of Shrivings Mark Lyric Theatre, London [39]
1971 Scratch Daniel Webster Peter Hunt St. James Theatre, Broadway [40]
1974 The Master Builder Halvard Solness Himself Thorndike Theatre, Leatherhead Also director [39]
1975-76 The White Devil Monticelso Michael Lindsay-Hogg The Old Vic, London [41]
1976 That Time Donald McWhinnie Royal Court Theatre, London [42]
1980 Doctor Faustus Mephistopheles Christopher Fettes Lyric Hammersmith Theatre, London [43]
Fortune Theatre, London [43]

Filmography[edit]

Film[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1960 The Criminal Barrows aka Concrete Jungle
1961 Rag Doll Flynn aka Young, Willing and Eager
Never Back Losers Ben Black
1962 The Boys Mr Lee
A Prize of Arms RSM Hicks
1963 Ricochet Inspector Cummins
The Young Racers Sir William Dragonet
The Very Edge Simmonds
The Servant Bishop
Dementia 13 Justin Caleb
Operacija Ticijan Dr. Morisijus aka Operation Titian
1964 Zulu Surgeon James Henry Reynolds
Séance on a Wet Afternoon Walsh
The Masque of the Red Death Alfredo
1965 The Skull Police Surgeon
Die, Monster, Die! Dr Henderson Alternative title: Monster of Terror
Portrait in Terror Mauricio Zaroni
1967 Marat/Sade Marquis de Sade
1968 Anzio General Starkey
Decline and Fall... of a Birdwatcher Maniac
The Birthday Party Shamus McCann
1969 Hard Contract Alexi
1970 Cromwell Hugh Peters
You Can't Win 'Em All The General – Atatürk
1971 King Lear Cornwall
The Trojan Women Menelaus
A Clockwork Orange Mr Alexander
1972 Tales from the Crypt George Carter (segment 5 "Blind Alleys")
The Fiend Minister aka Beware My Brethren
Asylum Dr Rutherford (segment: "Mannikins of Horror")
Young Winston General Bindon Blood
Pope Joan Elder monk
Demons of the Mind Falkenberg
1973 And Now the Screaming Starts! Dr Whittle
Lady Ice Paul Booth
The Final Programme Dr Baxter aka The Last Days of Man on Earth
1974 Luther Hans
Simona Le père
1975 Galileo Cardinal Bellarmin
Barry Lyndon The Chevalier du Balibari
1977 Telefon General Strelsky
1979 The Brontë Sisters Reverend Bronte
1980 Rough Cut Ernst Mueller
The Sleep of Death Marquis
Hawk the Slayer Priest
Sir Henry at Rawlinson End Reverend Slodden
1981 Chariots of Fire Lord Cadogan
The Monster Club Innkeeper – Luna's Father
The Black Cat Professor Robert Miles
Blood of Dr. Jekyll General William Danvers Carew aka The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Miss Osbourne

Television[edit]

Radio[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Birthdate cited in Grove Companion to Samuel Beckett (2004), ed. Ackerley and Gontarski, 339. National Portrait Gallery also cites 1922 as birthdate.
  2. ^ "BFI Screenonline: Magee, Patrick (1922-1982) Biography". www.screenonline.org.uk. Retrieved 12 September 2022.
  3. ^ a b "'Unjustly forgotten' actor that brought Beckett's writing to life to be honoured at birthplace". 24 August 2020. Archived from the original on 24 August 2020. Retrieved 12 September 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  4. ^ a b "Patrick Magee, British Actor, Won a Tony for 'Marat/Sade'". The New York Times. 16 August 1982.
  5. ^ "The treasure trove of Samuel Beckett recordings hidden online". The Samuel Beckett Society. 9 June 2018. Retrieved 11 September 2022.
  6. ^ a b "University of Reading". University of Reading. Retrieved 11 September 2022.
  7. ^ David Pattie (2000). The Complete Critical Guide to Samuel Beckett. Psychology Press. pp. 38–. ISBN 978-0-415-20253-4.
  8. ^ Cited in Grove Companion to Samuel Beckett (2004), ed. Ackerley and Gontarski, 339.
  9. ^ Ackerley and Gontarski (ed.), 302
  10. ^ Anthony Cronin: Samuel Beckett The Last Modernist, London 1997 [1996], p. 471
  11. ^ Little, Ivan (28 July 2017). "A drunk, gambler and hell-raiser, but a towering acting talent... remembering Patrick Magee". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 28 October 2019.
  12. ^ "The Glasgow Herald — Google News Archive Search". google.com. and NYT Magee obituary
  13. ^ McKenna, Michael (10 July 2017). "Celebrated Armagh actor Patrick Magee to be honoured with Blue Plaque". Armagh I. Retrieved 18 July 2017.
  14. ^ Little, Ivan (28 July 2017). "A drunk, gambler and hell-raiser, but a towering acting talent... remembering Patrick Magee". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 28 October 2019.
  15. ^ www.irishplayography.com https://www.irishplayography.com/play.aspx?playid=31209. Retrieved 11 September 2022. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  16. ^ www.irishplayography.com https://www.irishplayography.com/play.aspx?playid=31408. Retrieved 11 September 2022. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  17. ^ www.irishplayography.com https://www.irishplayography.com/play.aspx?playid=31214. Retrieved 11 September 2022. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  18. ^ "Production of The Passing Day | Theatricalia". theatricalia.com. Retrieved 11 September 2022.
  19. ^ "Production of The Queen and the Rebels | Theatricalia". theatricalia.com. Retrieved 11 September 2022.
  20. ^ "Production of The Shadow of a Gunman | Theatricalia". theatricalia.com. Retrieved 11 September 2022.
  21. ^ www.irishplayography.com https://www.irishplayography.com/play.aspx?playid=31689. Retrieved 11 September 2022. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  22. ^ "Production of The Buskers | Theatricalia". theatricalia.com. Retrieved 11 September 2022.
  23. ^ "Production of Rosmersholm | Theatricalia". theatricalia.com. Retrieved 11 September 2022.
  24. ^ "Production of Progress to the Park | Theatricalia". theatricalia.com. Retrieved 11 September 2022.
  25. ^ "Production of A Whistle in the Dark | Theatricalia". theatricalia.com. Retrieved 11 September 2022.
  26. ^ "Production of The Birthday Party | Theatricalia". theatricalia.com. Retrieved 11 September 2022.
  27. ^ "Production of Afore Night Come | Theatricalia". theatricalia.com. Retrieved 11 September 2022.
  28. ^ "Production of Endgame | Theatricalia". theatricalia.com. Retrieved 11 September 2022.
  29. ^ "Production of The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat As Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of The Marquis de Sade (or Marat/Sade) | Theatricalia". theatricalia.com. Retrieved 11 September 2022.
  30. ^ "Production of Puntila | Theatricalia". theatricalia.com. Retrieved 11 September 2022.
  31. ^ "Production of Hamlet | Theatricalia". theatricalia.com. Retrieved 11 September 2022.
  32. ^ "Production of The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat As Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of The Marquis de Sade (or Marat/Sade) | Theatricalia". theatricalia.com. Retrieved 11 September 2022.
  33. ^ "THE PERSECUTION AND ASSASSINATION OF JEAN-PAUL MARAT AS PERFORMED BY THE INMATES OF THE ASYLUM OF CHARENTON UNDER THE DIRECTION OF THE MARQUIS DE SADE". Playbill.
  34. ^ "Production of The Meteor | Theatricalia". theatricalia.com. Retrieved 11 September 2022.
  35. ^ a b "Production of Staircase | Theatricalia". theatricalia.com. Retrieved 11 September 2022.
  36. ^ "The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade - 1967 Broadway - Backstage & Production Info". www.broadwayworld.com. Retrieved 11 September 2022.
  37. ^ "Keep It in the Family". Playbill.
  38. ^ a b "Production of Dutch Uncle | Theatricalia". theatricalia.com. Retrieved 11 September 2022.
  39. ^ a b "Patrick Magee | Theatricalia". theatricalia.com. Retrieved 11 September 2022.
  40. ^ "Scratch". Playbill.
  41. ^ "Production of The White Devil | Theatricalia". theatricalia.com. Retrieved 11 September 2022.
  42. ^ www.irishplayography.com https://www.irishplayography.com/play.aspx?playid=31092. Retrieved 11 September 2022. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  43. ^ a b "Production of Doctor Faustus | Theatricalia". theatricalia.com. Retrieved 11 September 2022.

External links[edit]