Early in our company’s history one of our clients, a liquor supplier named W. A. Taylor and part of Hiram Walker, asked us to come up with a “new way” of presenting seasonal holiday meetings for their distributor sales force held each year in the fall. Every other company had done the same boring slide presentation year after year, and audiences often slept through them.
We decided to do something novel and untried, creating a “murder mystery” where all of the product information the salespersons had to learn was hidden in clues within the film. The audience watched these films, then during an intermission we would collect their answers as to “who done it.” The right answer would win prizes.
In order to produce all that excitement we were lucky enough to establish a budget to hire Patrick Macnee, the former star of The Avengers TV series, as my sleuth.
These productions were quite ornate, shot over a three to four-day period, and I got to spend a lot of that time with Patrick, both on and off the set. We talked about his career, The Avengers, and his famous lawsuit against Lord Lew Grade (the Ukrainian-born British media mogul who producedThe Avengers, and never gave the cast their due until the suit forced his hand).
For an airline shoot we produced later, Patrick helped me get the use of theJames Bond set at Pinewood Studios, calling on Albert “Cubby” Broccoli himself to secure use of the set. Broccoli had played a butler in one of the Bond films. Also a great voiceover actor, we hired Patrick’s several times to narrate presentations we did over the years.
Patrick would come through Miami a few times, performing at the Coconut Grove Playhouse, and even appeared in an episode of Miami Vice shot here in Miami. When not on stage or on set, Patrick would spend most of his time with my wife and me, wining and dining around town. He was a true gentleman, just as he portrayed on screen, and was curious about everything! He always asked about me, how my family was doing, what was going on in my life, and wanted my perspective on things. He was a great listener.
As a memory of my friend Patrick, I still have one of his Avengers bowler hats, which he had signed and given to me as a present. I will always cherish the time I got to spend with this great actor and personal friend.