Real-life inspiration for Austin Powers dies
Peter Wyngarde, the cult British actor who served as Mike Myers’ inspiration for Austin Powers, died Thursday, according to his agent. He was 90.
Wyngarde is best known for playing the titular role in the 1971 British series “Jason King.” In the short-lived spinoff of the espionage series “Department S,” Jason King was a suave, garishly dressed adventure novelist who would often travel to exotic locales for research on his stories, only to get mired in mysteries with dangerous villains and exotic women.
Comedian Myers has named King as a major inspiration for Austin Powers, particularly for his dandy, leisure suit outfits.
Wyngarde and King also inspired Marvel Comics creators Stan Lee and Jack Kirby to create the “X-Men” villain Mastermind, a mutant who had the ability to create complex illusions and hallucinations in the minds of the X-Men. Mastermind, whose secret identity was Jason Wyngarde, played a major role in the famous “Dark Phoenix Saga,” which is being adapted into a movie that will be released this November.
Sci-fi fans may also know Wyngarde for his work in the early ’80s as some notable villains. In the 1980 film adaptation of “Flash Gordon,” Wyngarde played Klytus, the gold-masked leader of Ming The Merciless’ secret police. In 1984, he got a role on the “Doctor Who” serial “Planet of Fire” as Timanov, the fanatical leader of a tribe of natives who worship a fire god that get swept up into a confrontation between the Doctor and his arch nemesis, The Master. Wyngarde also had an appearance on an episode of the cult British series “The Prisoner” as one of the many mysterious men who play the authority figure Number Two, and played the King of Siam in a London revival of “The King and I.”
“It’s terrible that Peter Wyngarde is dead,” tweeted “Doctor Who” writer Paul Cornell. “Such an extraordinary, detail-disputed, life. He was oddly magnificent.”
Others honoring Wyngarde on Thursday include the British Film Institute and “Doctor Who” and “Sherlock” writer Mark Gatiss
– Paul_Cornell (@Paul_Cornell) January 18, 2018
– BFI (@BFI) January 18, 2018
From wartime internment alongside JG Ballard to Klytus. With No.2, Baron Gruner, Professor Norman Taylor, Peter Quint and Gloucester bus station in between. What a life. What a legend. Jason King is dead. Long live Jason King! #peterwyngardepic.twitter.com/GX6AENMRZY
– Mark Gatiss (@Markgatiss) January 18, 2018