Patrick Magee
Patrick Magee, Dementia 13, 1963.jpg
Magee in Dementia 13 (1963)
Patrick George McGee

(1922-03-31)31 March 1922[1]
Armagh, Northern Ireland
Died14 August 1982(1982-08-14) (aged 60)
London, England
EducationSt Patrick's Grammar School, Armagh
OccupationActor and stage director
Years active1959–1982
Belle Sherry
(m. 1958)

Patrick George McGee (31 March 1922 – 14 August 1982), known professionally as Patrick Magee, was a Northern Irish actor and stage director, with a very distinctive voice. He was known for his collaborations with Samuel Beckett and Harold Pinter, as well as creating the role of the Marquis de Sade in the original stage and screen productions of Marat/Sade. He also appeared in numerous horror films and in two Stanley Kubrick films, A Clockwork Orange and Barry Lyndon.[2]

Early life

McGee (he changed the spelling of his surname to Magee when he began performing, most likely to avoid confusion with another actor) was born into a middle-class family at 2 Edward Street, Armagh, County Armagh.[3] The eldest of five children, he was educated at St. Patrick's Grammar School, Armagh.

Stage career

His first stage experience in Ireland was with Anew McMaster's touring company, performing the works of Shakespeare. It was here that he first worked with Pinter. He was then brought to London by Tyrone Guthrie for a series of Irish plays. He met Beckett in 1957 and soon recorded passages from the novel, Molloy, and the short story, From an Abandoned Work, for BBC radio. Impressed by "the cracked quality of Magee's distinctly Irish voice," Beckett requested copies of the tapes and wrote Krapp's Last Tape especially for the actor.[4] First produced at the Royal Court Theatre in London on 28 October 1958, the play starred Magee directed by Donald McWhinnie. A televised version with Magee directed by McWhinnie was later broadcast by BBC2 on 29 November 1972.[5] Beckett's biographer Anthony Cronin wrote that "there was a sense in which, as an actor, he had been waiting for Beckett as Beckett had been waiting for him."[6]

In 1964, he joined the Royal Shakespeare Company, after Pinter, directing his own play The Birthday Party, specifically requested him for the role of McCann, and stated he was the strongest in the cast. In 1965 he appeared in Peter Weiss's Marat/Sade, and when the play transferred to Broadway he won a Tony Award.[2] He also appeared in the 1966 RSC production of Staircase opposite Paul Scofield.

Film career

Early film roles included Joseph Losey's The Criminal (1960) Dementia 13 (1963) and The Servant (1963), the latter an adaptation scripted by Pinter. He also appeared as Surgeon-Major Reynolds in Zulu (1964), Séance on a Wet Afternoon (1964), Anzio (1968), and in the film versions of Marat/Sade (1967; as de Sade) and The Birthday Party (1968). He is perhaps best known for his role as the victimised writer Frank Alexander, who tortures Alex DeLarge with Beethoven's music, in Stanley Kubrick's film A Clockwork Orange (1971). His other role for Kubrick was as Redmond Barry's mentor, the Chevalier de Balibari, in Barry Lyndon (1975).

Magee also appeared in Young Winston (1972), The Final Programme (1973), Galileo (1975), Sir Henry at Rawlinson End (1980), The Monster Club and Chariots of Fire (1981), but was most often seen in horror films. These included Roger Corman's The Masque of Red Death (1964), and the Boris Karloff vehicle Die, Monster, Die! (1965) for AIP; The Skull (1965), Tales from the Crypt (1972), Asylum (1972), and And Now the Screaming Starts! (1973) for Amicus Productions; Demons of the Mind (1972) for Hammer Film Productions; and Walerian Borowczyk's Docteur Jekyll et les femmes (1981).

Personal life

Magee married Belle Sherry, also a native of County Armagh, in 1958. The couple had two children, twins Mark and Caroline (born February 1961), and remained together until Magee's death.

Magee was a staunch Irish republican, and an active campaigner for left-wing social and political causes. In 1976, he played an instrumental role in persuading his union Equity to boycott South Africa over the country's apartheid legislation.[7]

A heavy drinker, Magee died from a heart attack at his flat in Fulham, southwest London, on 14 August 1982 at the age of 60, according to obituaries in The Glasgow Herald and The New York Times.[8]

On 29 July 2017, actor Stephen Rea, who appeared alongside Patrick Magee in a production of Samuel Beckett's play Endgame, unveiled a blue plaque commemorating Magee's birthplace at 2 Edward Street, Armagh.[9][10]



Year Title Role Notes
1960 The Criminal Barrows aka Concrete Jungle
1961 Rag Doll Flynn aka Young, Willing and Eager
Never Back Losers Ben Black
1962 The Boys Mr Lee
A Prize of Arms RSM Hicks
1963 Ricochet Inspector Cummins
The Young Racers Sir William Dragonet
The Very Edge Simmonds
The Servant Bishop
Dementia 13 Justin Caleb
Operacija Ticijan Dr. Morisijus aka Operation Titian
1964 Zulu Surgeon James Henry Reynolds
Séance on a Wet Afternoon Walsh
The Masque of the Red Death Alfredo
1965 The Skull Police Surgeon
Die, Monster, Die! Dr Henderson Alternative title: Monster of Terror
Portrait in Terror Mauricio Zaroni
1967 Marat/Sade Marquis de Sade
1968 Anzio General Starkey
Decline and Fall... of a Birdwatcher Maniac
The Birthday Party Shamus McCann
1969 Hard Contract Alexi
1970 Cromwell Hugh Peters
You Can't Win 'Em All The General – Atatürk
1971 King Lear Cornwall
The Trojan Women Menelaus
A Clockwork Orange Mr Alexander
1972 Tales from the Crypt George Carter (segment 5 "Blind Alleys")
The Fiend Minister aka Beware My Brethren
Asylum Dr Rutherford (segment: "Mannikins of Horror")
Young Winston General Bindon Blood
Pope Joan Elder monk
Demons of the Mind Falkenberg
1973 And Now the Screaming Starts! Dr Whittle
Lady Ice Paul Booth
The Final Programme Dr Baxter aka The Last Days of Man on Earth
1974 Luther Hans
Simona Le père
1975 Galileo Cardinal Bellarmin
Barry Lyndon The Chevalier du Balibari
1977 Telefon General Strelsky
1979 The Brontë Sisters Reverend Bronte
1980 Rough Cut Ernst Mueller
The Sleep of Death Marquis
Hawk the Slayer Priest
Sir Henry at Rawlinson End Reverend Slodden
1981 Chariots of Fire Lord Cadogan
The Monster Club Innkeeper – Luna's Father
The Black Cat Professor Robert Miles
Blood of Dr. Jekyll General William Danvers Carew aka The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Miss Osbourne




  1. ^ Birthdate cited in Grove Companion to Samuel Beckett (2004), ed. Ackerley and Gontarski, 339. National Portrait Gallery also cites 1922 as birthdate.
  2. ^ a b "Patrick Magee, British Actor, Won a Tony for 'Marat/Sade'". 16 August 1982.
  3. ^ David Pattie (2000). The Complete Critical Guide to Samuel Beckett. Psychology Press. pp. 38–. ISBN 978-0-415-20253-4.
  4. ^ Cited in Grove Companion to Samuel Beckett (2004), ed. Ackerley and Gontarski, 339.
  5. ^ Ackerley and Gontarski (ed.), 302
  6. ^ Anthony Cronin: Samuel Beckett The Last Modernist, London 1997 [1996], p. 471
  7. ^ Little, Ivan (28 July 2017). "A drunk, gambler and hell-raiser, but a towering acting talent... remembering Patrick Magee". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 28 October 2019.
  8. ^ "The Glasgow Herald — Google News Archive Search". and NYT Magee obituary
  9. ^ McKenna, Michael (10 July 2017). "Celebrated Armagh actor Patrick Magee to be honoured with Blue Plaque". Armagh I. Retrieved 18 July 2017.
  10. ^ Little, Ivan (28 July 2017). "A drunk, gambler and hell-raiser, but a towering acting talent... remembering Patrick Magee". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 28 October 2019.