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Biography

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Overview (2)

Born in Berkhamsted, England, UK
Died in Ilfracombe, North Devon, England, UK

Mini Bio (1)

John P.R. (Pat) MacDonnell was born in Berkamstead in 1920, the son of a Royal Marine Captain. Following his parents divorce he became the stepson of paper magnate Ralph Reed, who was later knighted for his wartime service organizing recycling and rationing as Paper Controller for the Board of Trade.

After leaving Ottershaw College in 1936 at the age of 15, Pat worked for a number of independent production companies before 1940. These included UK Films Ltd., Baxter & Barter, British National Films Ltd., Julius Hagen Productions and John Stafford Productions. Most of this early experience was on quota quickies, the majority of which were directed by John Baxter.

During this period, Pat trained in Camera Departments as a Runner, Clapper-loader, Focus-puller and Camera Operator, and was occasionally asked to light small sets. He also assisted in Cutting Rooms as well as Sound, Props, Wardrobe and Stills Departments, developing a broad range of skills and knowledge. He also had a particular interest in Make-Up at that time and spent several weeks studying its techniques at his own expense, and this interest later contributed to his close friendship with George Blackler.

At the outbreak of WWII he was working at Sound City, Shepperton, and when the War Office commandeered the studios he was probably seconded along with other studio staff to the secret manufacture of fake aircraft and artillery for use as decoys in the Middle East. Saunders-Roe moved their operations to Shepperton after their nearby factory was hit in an air-raid, and Pat was later employed in a key position testing parts for their flying-boats. Incidentally, Vickers-Armstong took over Nettlefold Studios in similar circumstances, and built three huge aircraft hangars there, which made excellent sound stages after the war.

In February 1943 Pat joined the Rank Organisation as a 3rd Assistant Director with Two Cities Films Ltd. at Denham, and was soon off to Ireland for location shooting on Henry V (1944). A few weeks later, having just turned 18, Vicky Fuggle arrived at Denham to work as a Production Secretary for RKO Radio British Productions Ltd. initially on Herbert Wilcox's Yellow Canary (1943) and then on Victor Hanbury's Hotel Reserve (1944). They met when Pat returned to Denham for 'Henry V' studio filming in June 1943, and married in February 1946.

Vicky was also briefly involved with Henry V. Her diary records that on New Year's Day 1944 she took music notes for Laurence Olivier and William Walton in Denham's Theatre 1. During this period she was regularly loaned out by RKO in various capacities. While working on Yellow Canary she became PA to Anna Neagle in her 'spare time'. In January 1944 Vicky took over from Maude Spector (who had moved on to assist Casting Director Irene Howard at Two Cities) as secretary to Victor Hanbury, and in March moved again to work for RKO Production Manager Ernest Holding. In addition to her normal duties, she typed several drafts of the treatment and script for Great Day (1945) with screenwriter John Davenport, including one session of re-writes at The London Clinic, where he was being treated for gout. She also continued to handle dictation and fan-mail for Miss Neagle.

In late August 1944, due to her voluntary work for Belgian refugees as well as her considerable secretarial skills, Vicky was chosen as a temporary PA for Samuel Goldwyn, who was in the UK for a few weeks on behalf of Eastern European refugees, and needed someone who could assist with that as well as handling a good deal of movie correspondence.

On completion of 'Henry V' in February 1944, Pat transferred from Two Cities to Independent Producers as 2nd A.D. on They Knew Mr. Knight (1946), before joining Adele Raymond, first as her assistant, and then as Co-Casting Director.

On Gabriel Pascal's Caesar and Cleopatra (1945) he had two jobs. In addition to casting both crowd and character parts, he was also 2nd A.D.

Other work as Casting Director included 'I Know Where I'm Going!' (1945); A Matter of Life and Death (1946); Great Expectations (1946); Green for Danger (1946); Take My Life (1947) and Black Narcissus (1947).

Vicky (now MacDonnell) was also involved with Great Expectations. She joined 'Cineguild' just as music recording for Brief Encounter (1945) was being completed, and was secretary to Ronald Neame and David Lean throughout the period of the Dickens adaptations. She left in May 1947 to have her first child shortly after shooting began on Oliver Twist (1948). Indeed it was anticipated that Vicky's baby would appear in the opening sequence as the newborn Oliver, and the shooting schedule was arranged around his due date; but in the event little Anthony was somewhat overdue, and sadly missed out on the title role.

The industry and the ACT were far less concerned about demarcation in those days, and Pat was able to work in a fairly wide variety of jobs with Independent Producers. He was 2nd A.D on I See a Dark Stranger (1946); Assistant Production Manager on Captain Boycott (1947); 1st A.D (2nd Unit) on Blanche Fury (1948), and on Dulcimer Street (1948), Oliver Twist (1948) and The Passionate Friends (1949) he did Production Administration. He was both Production Manager and 1st A.D. on three documentaries made at Pinewood, and became Assistant to Chief Production Manager Tom White. In this capacity he was associated with Independent Producers entire slate for a while, including The Woman in the Hall (1947); The Red Shoes (1948); Sin of Esther Waters (1948); Don't Ever Leave Me (1949) and The Hidden Room (1949), one of three films directed in England by Edward Dmytryk while he was blacklisted in Hollywood.

In 1948 Pat was loaned to Gainsborough Pictures as a 2nd A.D. for Once Upon a Dream (1949) and returned to Independent for Stop Press Girl (1949) as 2nd Unit Location Manager. On The Blue Lagoon (1949) he was 2nd A.D again, and then Relief Location Manager on Dear Mr. Prohack (1949).

Pat co-directed and managed the production of 'The Dark World', a short charity appeal about blindness. He was 1st A.D on numerous commercials and directed a few, including one for 'Dreft' featuring 'Patricia Medina'.

He also directed the National Anthem film which was screened at every performance in Rank cinemas from 1948 until the coronation in 1953, when it was finally replaced.

Pat's final job in the industry was as Assistant Director on the Location Unit of Treasure Island (1950), after which he took ownership of an advertising publication, The Helston and District Free Gazette. The family moved to Cornwall and later to North Devon. He died in Ilfracombe in May 1964.

His children include musician and agent Tony MacDonnell, actor Chris MacDonnell and editor John MacDonnell. Among his grandchildren are 1st A.D. Joanna MacDonnell, singer-actress Sarah MacDonnell and great granddaughter Emily Carey

- IMDb Mini Biography By: john@macdonnell.info

Spouse (1)

Vicky Fuggle (February 1946 - 26 May 1964) ( his death) ( 5 children)

See also

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