Patrick Macnee •
Blind in One Ear •
This may be the most entertaining celebrity memoir you’ll come across. Patrick Macnee, best known as the brolly-toting John Steed of TV’s The Avengers, brings to his life story the same brio and good humor that have delighted audiences for 70 years.
His upbringing could kindly be termed eccentric. Though Macnee’s gin-soaked father wants the boy to become a jockey, his mother and her lesbian lover have other ideas. They insist on dressing the young Patrick in kilts, with “Uncle” Evelyn declaring, “Given time, we’ll make a good woman of him.”
They don’t succeed. After leaving Eton—where his extracurricular activities run to gambling and pornography as well as drama—Macnee is “determined to lose my virginity to anyone making a serious offer. . . Sex was surely the most agreeable discovery I’d made since food.”
Bitten by the acting bug during his first school pantomime, he eventually goes on to land theatrical roles alongside such luminaries as Laurence Olivier and Susannah York. (His mother claims kinship with David Niven, but is somewhat vague about the specifics.)
Even when he’s dropping names, Macnee is ever the gentleman. Describing his drunken attempt to seduce actress Honor Blackman, he paints her as brisk and himself as ridiculous. She discourages his amorous advances by saying sharply, “I’m sweating like hell, my feet are killing me, I smell like a polecat, and the answer’s ‘No’. ” He adds with evident pride, “To this very day we remain great pals and she still bosses me around!” Of his most famous Avengers costar, he says simply, “It would prove impossible not to adore Diana Rigg.”
Macnee is downright gleeful in recounting his many adventures on and off the stage; you will be too when you read them.