BREAKING NEWS: Avengers star Patrick Macnee dies at his home in California aged 93
- 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.
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.
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.
^That's Patsy Baby!!!!!
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!'
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.
^With Diana Rigg as Emma Peel
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.
Sir Roger led tributes to Macnee 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.'
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.'
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.