Patrick Macnee’s Comments – ‘Live Television’ from 1957-1959

1957-59: In Hollywood- Les Girls, Mission of Danger, MGM. TV credits include 3 Playhouse 90’s

Patrick Macnee

‘Of course in the years 1957 to 1959, I did a great deal of what they call “live” television, working on “Playhouse 90”. In other words, when you started one of these shows, you learned it like a play – or like Michael Wilding or other big, big stars who got used to not learning the lines. We had this 3-week rehearsal for this “live” television. On the air we’d go and these actors would suddenly say, “Oh, my God, I didn’t know you had to learn the lines!” Anyway, we were sort of stalwart supports and I did this and my most famous was the sinking of the Titanic – “A Night to Remember.” I played the designer of the ship – the role played by Victor Garber in James Cameron’s version – and the director then was a man named George Roy Hill who was to become very famous for “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and “The Sting.” And this time he was directing live television in New York and I was the head of a cast of a thousand and I had the famous lines just before the ship plummeted down beneath the waves and I had to say, “The ship must ‘go dune'”, which was Scottish for “the ship must go down.” And George Roy Hill said “Not so heavy on the Irish, Patrick”. And I said, “It’s Scottish” and he said, “I don’t care what it is, not so heavy on it.”‘ (Patrick Macnee June 2001)

Leslie Phillips played the part that I auditioned for, he is sitting at the end of the table. I did a terrible audition, I was sweaty and nervous. I did the audition with Kay Kendall. As a consolation part I played the prosecuting council. Kay Kendall was a lovely woman. One day she came up and whispered in my ear, “you look just like Laurence Olivier” it made my day. The man on the other end is a famous French actor called Jacques Bergerac who used to be married to Ginger Rogers. Tina Elg is the woman in the middle.

Patrick Macnee