The true story of the mysterious John Steed, whose Edwardian bowler, rolled umbrella, and fancy duds made him the best-dressed lawbringer in British--and then American--TV. He turns out to be wild and woolly Patrick Macnee. Macnee's family had a buoyantly aristocratic background well-suited to his later ripening into the image of city-gent Steed. By the time his parents arrived, however, Macnee found himself being sired by a tiny horse-trainer named ""Shrimp"" Macnee out of an eccentric, moneyed mother turned lesbian. Both were alcoholics. Mother and father soon cooled to each other, mother teaming up for life with a mannish lesbian who preferred to be called ""Uncle Evelyn,"" while ""Shrimp"" simply teamed up with gin, forever. Macnee tells of surviving his parental disaster, prep school, Eton, deep-throated Uncle Evelyn (who could not bear his not being a girl), the Webber-Douglas School of Drama, repertory, and of his first years as a stage actor before being called up for WW II. The navy promoted him from enlisted man to officer and he served on Motor Torpedo Boats. He first married young but all of his marriages foundered, on Scotch and womanizing, until his middle 60s, when--in 1983--chronic liver disease ended his drinking (""I. . .have since enjoyed excellent health""). Macnee had given up acting for producing TV shows when he was offered an unrefusable fee to play John Steed on the new tongue-in-cheek mystery show The Avengers. Eight years of playing against Ian Hendry, Honor Blackman, Diana Rigg, and Linda Thorson set him up for life, what with the series' worldwide reruns. Macnee offers few illusions about his range as an actor and seems still dim about what-might-have-been had he faced his alcoholism and womanizing earlier. Lively and amusing and without a single serious thought.