Mostly Credited As: Frank Maher
Birth Name: Francis James Maher
Date Of Birth: June 18, 1929 (Age 78)
Country Of Birth: United Kingdom
Birth Place: London, England
Date Of Death: July 13, 2007
Cause Of Death: Died at Newport, Isle of Wight
Height: 6' 2" (1.87 m)
Francis James Maher was a well known stunt double who doubled most noteably for Patrick McGoohan in 'The Prisoner' and 'Danger Man', bearing quite a strong resemblance to the star. He was also the program's stunt co-ordinator. His television association with Patrick McGoohan began during the early episodes of Danger Man (1960-67), when he fell down stairs and did other stunts, before getting the job as the actor's double and the programme's stunt co-ordinator. "I was actually a fantastic double for Pat - pure luck, luck of birth, but we were the same height and build," said Maher. "I could interchange his shoes, his hat, everything."
Then, he did the same job for The Prisoner (1967-68), McGoohan's classic, cult series with allegorical stories making a statement about the freedom of the individual. In the opening sequence, it is Maher seen on a beach, running towards the camera. During the series, he had to learn fencing and hang from a helicopter and, when he told the star how much he wanted to write, McGoohan, as executive producer, encouraged him. The result was the Western-style episode "Living in Harmony".
He also doubled for Roger Moore in 'The Saint' and appeared in countless ITC productions in the 1960s. He doubled for Errol Flynn and Burt Lancaster in the cinema. In The Crimson Pirate (1952), starring Lancaster in the title role, Maher was seen sliding down a sail and had to endure subsequently reading a newspaper article in which Lancaster laid a £10,000 bet that he did all his own stunts.
His athleticism and good looks marked out a career as an actor and stunt performer for Maher after Army service during the Second World War . Many of his film roles were as an extra, described by him as a "crowd artist". He had uncredited appearances in Ivanhoe (1952), the South Seas romance Saturday Island (1952), The Devil's Disciple (with Burt Lancaster, 1959) and The Master of Ballantrae (with Errol Flynn, 1953).
His move into television came with The Adventures of Robin Hood (1955-59), one of ITV's early adventure series, based on the folk legend, filmed at Nettlefold Studios, Walton-on-Thames, in Surrey, and starring Richard Greene in the title role. The programme was made by technicians who had a background in the film industry, so it was natural that some of those who had worked with them would be given a chance in the burgeoning new medium. All the fight sequences were carefully planned and written down before they were shot and the close-in, one-on-one sword fights were recreated, with weapons copied from those of the time preserved in museums.
Maher subsequently acted and did stunt work in programmes such as The Avengers (1967) Man in a Suitcase (1968), The Champions (1969), Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) (1969), The Persuaders! (with Roger Moore again, 1971) and Space 1999 (1976), before working as stunt co-ordinator on the first two series (1978-79) of the science-fiction serial Blakes 7, created by Terry Nation, who invented the Daleks in Doctor Who. Maher also did some work on the cult heist film The Italian Job (starring Michael Caine, 1969) after a stunt company was fired during shooting.
As his stunt career came to an end Maher co-wrote three novels, as Frank J. Maher, with Denis J. Cleary, the thrillers The Capricorn Run (1978, published in 1980 as The Hook), Sahara Strike (1981) and Wipe-out! (1981). Uncredited, he also wrote action sequences for blockbuster films such as Die Hard (starring Bruce Willis, 1988) and in later years he was a frequent guest at Prisoner and Blakes 7 fan conventions.
Maher married and divorced four times, his first marriage being to the actress Dilys Laye.