Rumpole’s Creator Rests in Peace (1923-2009)

Literary fountainhead John Mortimer, who passed away January 19, received a fascinating tribute in The Guardian. Barrister, playwright and novelist, Mortimer’s best known fiction chronicles the law practice of Horace Rumpole. (Leo McKern, the most memorable Number 2 in The Prisoner, took that role in the television series.)

Mortimer wanted a career in theater, but his father steered him into law. He ended up thriving in both fields:

Soon he discovered a real talent for divorcing people (in those barbaric, fault-finding days before divorce reform), and for the arcane Chancery world in which time and talent is expended in deciding the validity of a will written on a duck egg, or the charitable status of a legacy to Trappist nuns.

The Guardian argues that Rumpole was the attorney that Mortimer was too timid to become. That’s quite a curious thing to read following a description of Mortimer’s dramatic real-life battles to extend freedom of speech protections in Britain.

[Thanks to John Mansfield for the link.]

Patrick McGoohan Passes Away (1928-2009)

McGoohan as The Prisoner

Television’s prisoner Number Six, Patrick McGoohan, died in Los Angeles on January 13. He was 80.

McGoohan as Dr. SynMcGoohan was a special favorite among science fiction fans – for The Prisoner, of course, and even earlier for his performances in several Disney productions. He was Dr. Syn in “The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh” on TV’s Walt Disney, and a vet in The Three Lives of Thomasina (one of Diana’s favorite movies.) “The Scarecrow” had strong overtones of the fantastic despite nothing supernatural actually ever happening, whereas Thomasina features a housecat’s dream encounter with the Egyptian Cat Goddess. McGoohan also appeared in David Cronenberg’s 1981 horror movie Scanners.

McGoohan originally gained fame as John Drake in Danger Man (aired in the US as Secret Agent.) His significant movie roles included King Edward Longshanks in Braveheart, the intelligence agent in Ice Station Zebra, and the lead villain in the comedy Silver Streak.