T.P. McKenna

T.P. McKenna

Sep. 7th, 1929
Born in
Mullagh, County Cavan, Ireland
5' 9"

T.P. McKenna's Main TV Roles

Show Character(s)
Callan (UK) TV Show
Callan (UK)
The Manions of America TV Show
The Manions of America
Espionage (UK) TV Show
Espionage (UK)
Fall of Eagles (UK) TV Show
Fall of Eagles (UK)
Napoleon and Love (UK) TV Show
Napoleon and Love (UK)
Play for Tomorrow (UK) TV Show
Play for Tomorrow (UK)
Any Time Now (UK) TV Show
Any Time Now (UK)
Beasts (UK) TV Show
Beasts (UK)
Looking for Clancy (UK) TV Show
Looking for Clancy (UK)
Love Story (UK) TV Show
Love Story (UK)
Parnell & the Englishwoman (UK) TV Show
Parnell & the Englishwoman (UK)
Sweet Sixteen (UK) (1983) TV Show
Sweet Sixteen (UK) (1983)
The Fellows (UK) TV Show
The Fellows (UK)
The Mackinnons (UK) TV Show
The Mackinnons (UK)

Main Movie Roles

Guest TV Roles

[none found]


Character actor Thomas Patrick McKenna was born in Mullagh, County Cavan, Ireland, in 1929. A prolific theater actor throughout his career, he made his stage debut in "Summer and Smoke" by Tennessee Williams at the Pike Theatre in Dublin in 1954.

He made his film debut in the IRA-Nazi drama A Terrible Beauty (1960) and from this uncredited beginning he moved up to tenth billing in The Siege of Sidney Street (1960). His next major movie was in 1964's Girl with Green Eyes (1964), by which time he had started a successful television career.

He made his TV debut in "Espionage" (1963) and over the next few years appeared in several more TV shows. His versatility enabled him to play three characters in "The Avengers" (1961). He was also featured in such well-regarded shows as "Adam Adamant Lives!" (1966), "Dixon of Dock Green" (1955) and "The Saint" (1962).

Meanwhile, his film career was developing along literary lines, and he was featured in Brendan Behan's The Quare Fellow (1962), the 'Sean OCasey biopic Young Cassidy (1965) and James Joyce (I)'s Ulysses (1967). He took smaller parts in such epics as The Charge of the Light Brigade (1968) and Anne of the Thousand Days (1969).

British films such as Perfect Friday (1970) and Villain (1971) allowed him to showcase his suave, urbane persona before trying something different in the controversial Straw Dogs (1971). He appeared alongside a young Anthony Hopkins in All Creatures Great and Small (1975) (TV) before starring with John Gielgud for the second time, this time in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1977). Over the next few years his co-stars were as diverse as Leonard Rossiter (Britannia Hospital (1982)), Timothy Dalton (The Doctor and the Devils (1985)), Ben Kingsley (Pascali's Island (1988)) and Dolph Lundgren (Red Scorpion (1989)). Not all of these films were successes, but McKenna always gave good value for the money and developed themes of his, such as an interest in Irish issues, in The Outsider (1980). His last released film was Valmont (1989), which was unfortunately completely overshadowed by Dangerous Liaisons (1988), which was based on the same novel.

Over the years he has made numerous guest appearances in TV series such as "Minder" (1979), "Casualty" (1986), "Lovejoy" (1986), "Inspector Morse" (1987), "Heartbeat" (1992) and "Ballykissangel" (1996). McKenna has also been prominent in TV movies and series, featuring in Charles Dickens' "Bleak House" (1985), Stendhal's "The Scarlet and the Black" (1993) and most recently an adaptation of Henry James (I)' The American (1998) (TV).

McKenna is up there with the greats of character acting such as Lionel Jeffries, Dennis Price (I), Richard Wattis, Wilfrid Hyde-White and John Le Mesurier.

  • Father of actor 'Breffni McKenna' (qv).

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