Patrick Magee (actor)

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Not to be confused with Patrick Macnee.
Patrick Magee
Patrick Magee (on left) and William Campbell in Dementia 13 (1963)
Born Patrick George McGee
(1922-03-31)31 March 1922[1]
Armagh, County Armagh, Northern Ireland
Died 14 August 1982(1982-08-14) (aged 60)
London, England
Occupation Actor, director
Spouse(s) Belle Sherry (1958–1982; his death); 2 children

Patrick Magee (31 March 1922 – 14 August 1982) was an Irish actor and director known for his collaborations with Samuel Beckett and Harold Pinter, as well as creating the role of the Marquis DeSade in the original stage and screen productions of Marat/Sade and his appearances in horror films and in two Stanley Kubrick films, A Clockwork Orange and Barry Lyndon.[2]

Early life[edit]

He was born Patrick George McGee in Armagh, County Armagh, Northern Ireland.[3] Born into a middle-class family, McGee was the first born of five children and was educated at St. Patrick's Grammar School, Armagh.

Stage career[edit]

McGee changed his name to Magee for the stage, but not legally. 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.[4] 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.[5] 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."[6]

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 Weiss's Marat/Sade, and when the play transferred to Broadway he won a Tony Award.[2] He also appeared in the 1966 RSC production of Staircase opposite Paul Scofield.

Film career[edit]

Early film roles included Joseph Losey's The Criminal (1960) 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). But 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 Chevalier de Balibari in Barry Lyndon (1975).

Magee also appeared in Young Winston (1972), The Final Programme (1973), Galileo (1975), Sir Henry at Rawlinson End (1980), The Monster Club and Chariots of Fire (1981), but was most often seen in horror films. These included 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; and Demons of the Mind (1972) for Hammer Film Productions.

Personal life[edit]

Magee married Belle Sherry, also a native of County Armagh in 1958. In February 1961, their twins, Mark and Caroline McGee, were born in London.[7]


Patrick Magee died in his London flat from "natural causes" on 14 August 1982 at the age of 60, according to obituaries in the Glasgow Herald and the New York Times.[8]



  1. ^ Birthdate cited in Grove Companion to Samuel Beckett (2004), ed. Ackerley and Gontarski, 339. National Portrait Gallery also cites 1924 as birthdate.
  2. ^ a b "Patrick Magee, British Actor, Won a Tony for 'Marat/Sade'". 16 August 1982. 
  3. ^ David Pattie (2000). The Complete Critical Guide to Samuel Beckett. Psychology Press. pp. 38–. ISBN 978-0-415-20253-4. 
  4. ^ Cited in Grove Companion to Samuel Beckett (2004), ed. Ackerley and Gontarski, 339.
  5. ^ Ackerley and Gontarski (ed.), 302
  6. ^ Anthony Cronin: Samuel Beckett The Last Modernist, London 1997 [1996], p. 471
  7. ^ "Patrick Magee (1922 - 1982) - Find A Grave Memorial". 
  8. ^ "The Glasgow Herald — Google News Archive Search".  and NYT Magee obituary

External links[edit]