Patrick Joseph McGoohan was born at 4:31 a.m. on March 19th, 1928 in Astoria, Long Island, New York. His father, Thomas McGoohan was an Irish farmer who had married Rose Fitzpatrick in the 1920's. They then emigrated to the United States of America to look for work. His parents did not stay in the U.S. for long and moved back to Ireland.
Seven years later they moved to Sheffield, England. At this early age McGoohan junior had a number of health problems such as acute bronchial asthma. His strong Catholic upbringing pushed him towards an ambition of becoming a Roman Catholic priest. He spent his later years in other parts of England where he eventually gave up ideas of priesthood and became interested in the theatre. In 1944 he left school and worked for a year at the Sheffield British Rope Company.
A local youth club was putting on an amateur production and McGoohan got his first role. After working in a bank for another two years he took a job managing a chicken farm in Chesterfield while a member of several dramatic societies. In 1947, while unemployed (he was allergic to chicken feathers) he strolled into the Sheffield Repertory Theatre and was accepted as stage manager.
For the next two years he assisted with stage management, sets, lighting, etc. One night, when a lead actor became ill McGoohan received his big break - eventually becoming a leading man with this theatre company. McGoohan met his future wife Joan Drummond while with the repertory company and in 1951 they married in Sheffield.
A role in the play 'Serious Charge' at the Garrick Theatre led to his film debut in 1955 in Passage Home. This was a minor part which led to other small parts in 'The Dam Busters', 'I Am A Camera' and 'The Dark Avenger'.
A five year contract later came about with the Rank Organization which gave him his first permanent filming appointment. Following this four films were completed with Rank grooming McGoohan for stardom. He left Rank a year early to pursue roles that he wanted. While working on the stage, McGoohan won the Best Television Actor of the Year Award for his part in a TV play called 'The Greatest Man in the World'. McGoohan signed a contract with Walt Disney to do three films, the first two being 'Dr.Syn (alias the Scarecrow)' and 'The Three Lives of Thomasina'.
Lew Grade, chairman of ITC had seen Patrick on television and was interested in casting him for a new half hour action adventure series. The role as secret agent John Drake in Danger Man was changed from Grade's original intent to a non-violent man who gets the job done without a gun while declining to show him in any love scenes.
McGoohan left the role of Danger man to pursue other stage and screen roles, he even had a role in a 1962 play called 'The Prisoner', although this is not related to his later TV series. His role as John Drake was so popular that in 1964 Danger Man was brought back as a series of one hour episodes, also to be shown in North America under the title of Secret Agent. McGoohan even turned down the role of James Bond in the film Dr.No.
McGoohan was ready to end his role as John Drake after a total of 86 episodes, culminating in two one-hour specials filmed for the first time in colour. After some discussion, he was given the go ahead by Lew Grade to produce a new ITC series in colour called The Prisoner.