Born in 1929, he started his illustrious career by performing several Gilbert and Sullivan shows at St Patricks College. Despite spending six years working in banks and finance, McKenna never let go of the acting bug that he had caught and made the decision to join the prestigious Abbey Theatre.
Between the years of 1953 and 1962, the actor took part in over seventy stage roles whilst also performing with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Royal National Theatre Company.
Whilst he starred in films alongside Hollywood talents such as Gregory Peck and Dustin Hoffman, he never shied away from television roles. He appeared in cult shows such as The Sweeney, Minder, The Saint, Blakeâ€™s 7 and on three separate occasions in The Avengers.
Doctor Who fans will recognise the actor from the 1988 adventure The Greatest Show in the Galaxy, where McKenna played an egotistical and selfish explorer called Captain Cook. He brought a brilliant edge to the character, one of nobility, pride and ruthlessness all at the same time.
Irish actress Roma Tomelty described the actor as:
â€œOne of a new generation of Irish actors with this fierce, wonderful energy, but still in the old natural tradition, he had a blend of both.”
T P McKenna passed away on Sunday, February 13th 2011 after a long illness. He was 81 years old and is survived by a daughter and four sons. His funeral will take place atÂ St.Kilian’s Church, Mullagh, Co.Cavan on Saturday 26th February, 2011.
You can find out more about the actor’s career at www.tpmckenna.com.
Our thoughts are with his family at this time.
- Irish actor TP McKenna dies at 81 (bbc.co.uk)
- TP McKenna: Actor whose career took him from the Abbey Theatre to numerous character roles on stage and screen (independent.co.uk)
- TP McKenna obituary (guardian.co.uk)