Patrick Macnee, star of 1960s TV show The Avengers, dead at 93

Patrick Macnee played secret agent John Steed in the The Avengers.
Patrick Macnee played secret agent John Steed in the The Avengers.REUTERS

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Patrick Macnee, the star of the popular 1960s television spy series The Avengers, died Thursday at the age of 93 at his home in California, his son said on the actor's website.

The Briton - who achieved international fame with his portrayal of eccentric but suave secret agent John Steed, usually armed with only his trusty umbrella - died "a natural death... with his family at his bedside," his son Rupert said.

The actor - whose full name was Daniel Patrick Macnee - also performed on stage, in both London's West End and New York's Broadway, and served in the Royal Navy during World War II.

Born in London and educated at Britain's exclusive Eton school, Macnee returned to London after the war and eventually got some minor roles on stage and screen, including as an uncredited extra in Laurence Olivier's 1948 film version of Hamlet.

But his turn as Steed would bring him international fame.

Macnee starred alongside a bevy of beautiful women, most notably Diana Rigg in the role of Emma Peel.

The series was briefly rebooted in the 1970s as The New Avengers, with Joanna Lumley - who would later star in Absolutely Fabulous - as Purdey, one of his sidekicks.

Other notable roles for Macnee included an appearance in the James Bond film A View To A Kill in the 1980s, alongside Roger Moore's super-spy.

Later in life, he advocated stricter gun controls, according to his website.

Macnee spent the last 40 years living in California, and died at his home in Rancho Mirage.

"He was at home wherever in the world he found himself. He had a knack for making friends, and keeping them. Wherever he went, he left behind a trove of memories and good wishes," said the statement on his website.

Macnee was married three times. All three wives pre-deceased him. He had a son, Rupert, and a daughter.