Saturday, July 14, 2007

Fearless Frank

The world has just lost a tiny bit of its lustre.

Frank Maher, my friend, passed away yesterday.

A mini-bio from the Cult TV website:
After serving in the Parachute Regiment during the war, Frank Maher worked as a stuntman and actor on many of the ITC action adventure shows. An expert in all forms of fighting, he became a master at crashing cars, falling from great heights and leaping through windows.

A stunt man on The Avengers, he played roles in three episodes opposite Honor Blackman. When Diana Rigg took over as Steed’s assistant he appeared as Nicholls in You Have Just Been Murdered, ultimately impaled on a scythe by Emma Peel.

After working on Man in a Suitcase he acted as the stunt co-ordinator for both Department S and Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased).

As well as Roger Moore’s stunt double in The Saint, he played Kraft in The Paper Chase and Rip Savage in the two-part story The Fiction Makers. Two years later he doubled for Moore a second time in The Persuaders!, and appeared in the episode The Man in the Middle.

Forging a long association with Patrick McGoohan after being his stunt double in Danger Man, Frank teamed up with the actor for The Prisoner.

As stunt director on the series, responsible for the action sequences and choreographed fight scenes, he played Number Six in the episode The Schizoid Man and appeared as a Gunman in Living in Harmony.

Frank retired from stunt work, after working on Doctor Who and Blake’s 7, and spent his later years writing adventure novels.

I first met Frank when we were both guests at the Cult TV Festival, back in 2000. I was introduced to him by a mutual friend who had worked with him on Blake’s 7, many years previously. We instantly got on, our shared sense of humour and taste for the absurd forging a strong bond of comradeship, which often seemed an unlikely match to observers, as we were both from widely different backgrounds and generations.

Frank had a thousand hilarious and moving anecdotes about the industry, was fiercely loyal, took absolutely no shit from studio types (especially Michael Winner), was a long-time friend of Robert Mitchum and Roger Moore, used to hang out with the Rat Pack and had only (when I met him, in his seventies) recently given up his black belt in shotokan karate.

Frank inspired people. My friend Henry, who Frank immediately christened “Hank”, and I would often sit and talk through the night with Frank, fascinated by his insights and the story of his life. I would tell friends that I knew were going to meet him for the first time that they were “going to fall in love with Frank”. Much like Hank, there are people who you can gauge other people by - if they like them, they’re good people. If they don’t, forget ’em.

My biggest regret is that I never saw enough of Frank, and never managed to badger out of him the full account of his time in Arnhem during WWII (or, “that fucking shambles” as he often referred to it). From what Frank told me, the film A Bridge Too Far came close, but nowhere near close enough.

Ladies and gentlemen, wherever you are, if you’re able, please raise a glass in memory of one of our country’s very finest sons - Mr. Frank Maher.


At 8:29 pm, Blogger Alex said...

Damn. Sorry for swearing on your blog Mark, but that's one sad bit of news.

You were right at the Cult TV con. I fell in love with him. We talked about Arnhem a bit but not nearly enough.

I must have only spoken to him for a short while but it did make an impression on me. It's a pity I didn't make an effort to see him again.

Here's to you Frank. I haven't got any beer in the house but I'll get some to drink on you.

At 7:38 am, Blogger CAROLINE said...

Sorry for your loss, Mark. Sounds like he was an amazing person.

At 8:11 pm, Blogger Riddley Walker said...

As I'm sure Alex will back me up, Frank really was one of the most warm, generous, funny and honest people you could possibly wish for. All that added to the debt that I certainly felt I owed him (and all those like him) for serving in the war.

In an ideal world, somehow all the people we care about would live forever. Impossible I know, but Frank certainly deserved a crack at it.

Wherever people go when they die (if they do at all), I'm sure Frank’s living it up like fury with all his old buddies, not restricted any more to the odd red wine and soda, with a grin on his face as wide as a mile.

Damn, I miss him.

At 5:26 pm, Blogger Alex said...

The feeling I got when I spoke to Frank was the same one I get when I speak to anyone who served in World War II and came to my country to liberate my countrymen.

A lot of veterans I speak to seem to have a real affinity for the country they eventually ended up being stationed in. The ones I've spoken to that came to The Netherlands - including Frank - really appreciate the country, almost more then a native I must ashamedly admit.

And somehow they seem to feel proud and responsible for the youngling standing in front of them, which in a sense they are. If it hadn't been for them the chance of me existing would have been a lot slimmer.

Something must have shaped these men, because invariably they're good people.

At 4:45 pm, Anonymous Roxy said...

Wow, he sounds like an amazing man, I'm sorry I never had the chance and the pleasure of meeting him....

I'm raising a drink to someone who's obviously left a considerable gap by his leaving....very sad.... here's to his legacy.

Roxy x

At 4:53 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A soul mate. I frequently raise a glass to a lovely man , l knew for many years, not just as a friend, but also the mother of our love child a son, who has so much of his fathers ways.l have many happy memories, my god he could put the scotch away, we all did in those days. Cheers frank, out of sight, not out of mind,,,, a loyal friend


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