January 18, 2018 at 1:02 pm #22207
A versatile actor with a fantastic voice has left us. [LINK]
The actor Peter Wyngarde has died aged 90, his agent has confirmed.
Wyngarde played dandy detective Jason King in the 1970s TV show of the same name – which was a partial inspiration for the Austin Powers films. He had numerous stage roles, as well as playing the gold-masked Klytus in Flash Gordon and Timanov in Doctor Who.
He guest-starred in a number of 1960s television shows including The Saint, The Prisoner and The Avengers before debuting Jason King in the spy drama Department S. The character proved so popular that Wyngarde got a spin-off series, which made him a household name in the US and Australia.
King remained his best-known character, a globe-trotting playboy with an astonishing array of outfits. And it wasn’t just his sartorial extravagance that inspired Mike Myers to create Austin Powers: King even uttered the phrase “groovy, baby” in one episode.
However, he took the character’s lifestyle a bit too literally, battling alcoholism in the 1980s. He only quit after cutting ties with a close friend in a fight he couldn’t remember. “Jason King had champagne and strawberries for breakfast, just as I did myself,” he told The Observer in 1993. “I drank myself to a standstill. When I think about it now, I’m amazed I’m still here.”
He started his own fashion column in a daily newspaper and, after Australian women voted him the man they’d most like to have an affair with, was mobbed at Sydney airport. Unbeknownst to the general public, Wyngarde was himself gay, and had a long-term relationship with the actor Alan Bates.
There are numerous episodes of Jason King and Department S on Youtube. It’s very much an acquired taste – holy cow, what did people get out of smoking so constantly?!? – and a bit of a time capsule, but man, you can tell how much it influenced Austin Powers.
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