Irish actor T.P. McKenna dies aged 81

Tue Feb 15, 2011 4:51pm EST
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LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Irish actor T.P. McKenna, best known for his roles in popular 1960s television dramas like "The Avengers" and "The Saint," has died aged 81.

"It is with the deepest regret that the family of the celebrated Irish actor, T.P. McKenna, announce his passing on Sunday evening at the Royal Free Hospital, London," a statement on his website said.

"Following a long period of illness he died quietly in his sleep. As an actor he was unique, as a friend and colleague he was exceptional, as a father he was irreplaceable."

McKenna started working life as a banker, and, when he was transferred to a Dublin branch, became involved in amateur dramatics. He took up acting full time, and appeared on the stage in Ireland and London.

That led to television work, and his credits included "Dangerman," "Adam Adamant" and "The Sweeney."

He also had film roles in "Ulysses" (1967), "Straw Dogs" (1971), and "A Portrait of the Artist As A Young Man" (1977).

According to the Irish Times, McKenna is survived by his sons Rafe, Killian, Breffni and Stephen and his daughter Sally. He will be laid to rest in Mullagh, Ireland, alongside his wife May, who died five years ago.

"He was an irascible old bugger, but I loved him," his son Breffni told the newspaper.

(Reporting by Mike Collett-White)