Thursday, January 22, 2009

Obits: Patrick McGoohan and John Mortimer

I do not do this very often and I am late doing these.

Patrick McGoohan died January 17. The Age has a good biography of him reprinted from The Telegraph. It does not mention his role in The Phantom (which was a hoot).

Patrick McGoohan's The Prisoner remains to me one of the strangest and best shows ever on television. I know several of my friends who strongly disagree that is anything but silly. I trace my askew view of the world to watching The Prisoner and too many Marx Brothers movies as a kid. So, hail and farewell, Mr. McGoohan.

Fewer people may know of John Mortimer, former barrister and writer, who also died on January 17. I ran across Mortimer and his most famous creation, Horace Rumpole, while in law school. From them I learned a bit and given a lot of inspiration. The New York Times has an obit here. However, these paragraphs from The Scotsman capture the best of Rumpole (and Mortimer) for me:
That's how Rumpole is, too. Shabby, yes, but still showy. Baffled by modernity but still battling for centuries-old ideas of liberty to have some place in it. Quietly sympathetic to the victims of society but fighting for them, a stentorian Shakespearean every bit as much as a 19th-century actor-manager.

As long as we're interested in the battle for ideas, in defending tolerance, in drawing out the contrast between high ideals and the compromises of everyday life, Rumpole will still be with us, knocking cigar ash from the wings of his gown, getting up on his feet for the closing argument and telling the ladies and gentlemen of the jury as persuasively as possible exactly why his client's innocence is beyond doubt.

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