Alexis Kanner

Alexis Kanner

Born Henri Alex Kanner
(1942-05-02)2 May 1942
Bagnères-de-Luchon, France
Died 13 December 2003(2003-12-13) (aged 61)
London, England
Other names Henry Leroy, Henri Lucas
Occupation Actor, Director

Alexis Kanner (2 May 1942 in Bagnères-de-Luchon, France – 13 December 2003 in London, England) was a French-born English actor, most notable for appearing in the ground-breaking TV series The Prisoner.

He was born in Nazi-occupied Bagnères-de-Luchon, France, to a Jewish family. In April 1944, shortly before his second birthday, he escaped with his family to Montreal, Quebec, Canada, on the Portuguese ship Serpa Pinto.[1][2]


Kanner attended the Montreal Children's Theatre under the tutelage of Dorothy Davis and Violet Walters.

Kanner made his first impression as an actor in the role of Alex, among a French Canadian cast, in the television drama series Beau Temps, Mauvais Temps (1955–1958).[3]

He moved to England in the late 50s to join the Birmingham Repertory Theatre to further his acting career. This led to the Royal Court and the Royal Shakespeare Company where he played in The Tempest in 1961 and the lead role in Hamlet under the direction of Peter Brook in 1965. His earliest UK television appearance appears to have been as Peter in the Sunday Night Theatre play Echo From Afar[4] in 1959.

He appeared as Stephen in the film Reach for Glory (1962)[5] about the brutal war games of evacuated teenage boys during the Second World War. This led to him first meeting the film's assistant director David Tomblin, who would a few years later be the producer of The Prisoner series.

He had a small role in the comedy film We Joined the Navy (1962)[6] playing Gerrett. The only real notable thing about the film was the number of future British small screen comedy stalwarts who were acting in either similar small roles or uncredited cameos.

Other plays in which he performed were:

He appeared on British television in an episode of The Saint, "The Ever Loving Spouse" (1964)[13] as Alec Misner and in the first of three episodes in ATV's Love Story, A Future Holiday[14] as Frank Watkins. His other appearances in that series were in the following year in Briefly Kiss The Loser[15] as Big Silver Gardner and in 1967 as Colin Turner in Cinéma Vérité.[16] He appeared as Detective Constable Matt Stone in 9 episodes of Softly, Softly (BBC, 1966), a spin-off series from Z-Cars. He claimed in interviews later that he left not wanting to be typecast. Only one complete Softly, Softly episode featuring Kanner survives in the BBC archives, 'A-Z' (broadcast 30 March 1966), and another partially.[17]

His film career continued with an appearance in The Amorous Adventures of Moll Flanders (1965)[18] as part of a Mohocks gang.

In 1967 he went back to Montreal to star as the lead character Ernie Turner in the film The Ernie Game[19] which was written and directed by Don Owen for the National Film Board of Canada.

The Prisoner

Kanner's performances in the 1967–1968 British television series The Prisoner brought lasting recognition for his acting. When he was first enrolled, Patrick McGoohan, the star and co-creator of the series, was planning the final four episodes. There was some opposition to the choice, but McGoohan was looking to cast the rebellious and maverick qualities that Kanner displayed. His first guest-star role was in the mock Wild West, episode "Living in Harmony", in which he portrayed the "Kid" (the alter-ego of Number Eight), a violent mute dressed in circus pants and a top hat, who is eventually shot in a duel by McGoohan's character, Number Six. McGoohan was impressed by his acting skills and perfectionism (to prepare the duel scene, both actors practised quick-draw assiduously). As a result, McGoohan wrote for Kanner the role of Number Forty-eight, who is made to stand trial as the representative of rebellious youth in "Fall Out", the final episode of the series.[20] Additionally, Kanner gave an uncredited performance as the photographer in the comic-book episode "The Girl Who Was Death",[20] in which he performed a number of stunts on a roller coaster.

Later career

In 1969 he starred as Graham Baird in the little-known short feature film Twenty Nine,[21] a story of a promiscuous young husband's night out in swinging London. It was only 26 minutes long and co-starred Yootha Joyce. This was shown as the B film in Britain with the feature film If.....[22] The band Tuesday's Children, who had a cameo role in a nightclub scene, released the song "She" that they played in it as a single soon afterwards.[23]

He starred in a number of feature films soon after, including Crossplot (1969)[24] with Roger Moore, Connecting Rooms (1970)[25] with Bette Davis and Michael Redgrave, and Goodbye Gemini[26] (also 1970).

He is wrongly credited with appearing in Invasion:UFO[27] in 1972, a compilation film made up of the episodes from the TV series UFO[28] made in 1970. He had appeared in an episode called The Cat With 10 Lives[29] but no footage of this was used in the "feature film".

He moved back to Canada and his next film was Mahoney's Last Stand (released in the US as Mahoney's Estate, 1972)[30] with Sam Waterston[31] and Maud Adams,[32] which he also co-wrote and co-directed. The original motion picture soundtrack of the same name was recorded by Ronnie Lane (who was a friend of Kanner) and Ron Wood, then of The Faces. Other famous names who worked on the album included Pete Townshend and Kenney Jones.

He worked again with Patrick McGoohan on the Canadian hostage drama film Kings and Desperate Men,[33] in which he starred as well as writing, producing and directing. He apparently spent two years editing the film which, although filmed in December 1977, did not premiere until the 1981 Montreal World Film Festival. During the late 80s Kanner sued the producers of the film Die Hard[34] claiming that they stole the idea for that movie from this film (he lost).[35]

His final known acting role was in Nightfall (released in 1988),[36] a science-fiction film based on the Isaac Asimov story of the same name.[37]

He settled back in London in 1996 and was working on a new film project called J R Profitt[38] that never came to fruition.


He died of a heart attack at his London home on 13 December 2003.[39] He had requested that his body be flown to and buried in Israel.[40]



  1. "American Jewish Year Book" (PDF). Retrieved 2007-10-18.
  2. Alexis Kanner Arrival in Montreal at the age of two years in the Canadian Jewish Congress - Photo Gallery
  3. "Beau Temps, Mauvais Temps at IMDB". Retrieved 2007-10-18.
  4. "Echo From Afar at The BFI". Retrieved 2007-10-18.
  5. "Reach For Glory at IMDB". Retrieved 2007-10-18.
  6. "We Joined The Navy at IMDB". Retrieved 2007-10-18.
  7. "Birds In The Wilderness at The BFI". Archived from the original on 12 November 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-18.
  8. "The Facing Chair at The BFI". Retrieved 2007-10-18.
  9. "The Interview at The BFI". Archived from the original on 16 November 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-18.
  10. "Along Came A Spider at The BFI". Retrieved 2007-10-18.
  11. "The Freewheelers at The BFI". Archived from the original on 15 November 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-18.
  12. "Living Image at The BFI". Archived from the original on 15 November 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-18.
  13. "The Saint's The Ever Loving Spouse at IMDB". Retrieved 2007-10-18.
  14. "A Future Holiday at IMDB". Retrieved 2007-10-18.
  15. "Briefly Kiss The Loser at IMDB". Retrieved 2007-10-18.
  16. "Cinéma Vérité at IMDB". Retrieved 2007-10-18.
  17. "BBC Cult TV Treasure Hunt". Retrieved 2008-02-28.
  18. "The Amorous Adventures of Moll Flanders at IMDB". Retrieved 2007-10-18.
  19. "The Ernie Game at IMDB". Retrieved 2007-10-18.
  20. 1 2 Hayward, Anthony (26 December 2003). "Alexis Kanner: Maverick actor in the cult Sixties television series 'The Prisoner'". The Independent. Retrieved 27 June 2015.
  21. "Twenty Nine at The BFI". Retrieved 2007-10-18.
  22. "if.... at IMDB". Archived from the original on 11 October 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-18.
  23. "Tuesday's Children at CZAR". Archived from the original on 15 January 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-24.
  24. "Crossplot at IMDB". Retrieved 2007-10-18.
  25. "Connecting Rooms at IMDB". Retrieved 2007-10-18.
  26. "Goodbye Gemini at IMDB". Retrieved 2007-10-18.
  27. "UFO:Invasion at IMDB". Retrieved 2007-10-18.
  28. "UFO:The TV Series at IMDB". Retrieved 2007-10-18.
  29. "UFO Episode: The Cat With 10 Lives at IMDB". Retrieved 2007-10-18.
  30. "Mahoney's Estate at IMDB". Retrieved 2007-10-18.
  31. "Sam Waterston at IMDB". Retrieved 2007-10-18.
  32. "Maud Adams at IMDB". Retrieved 2007-10-18.
  33. "Kings And Desperate Men at IMDB". Retrieved 2007-10-18.
  34. "Die Hard at IMDB". Archived from the original on 18 November 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-18.
  35. Horowitz, Joy (15 March 1992). "New York Times: Hollywood Law: Whose idea is it anyway?". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-01-25.
  36. "Alexis Kanner at the BFI". 2015. Retrieved 27 June 2015.
  37. "Nightfall at IMDB". Retrieved 2007-10-18.
  38. "Free For All: Winter Issue 23". Retrieved 2007-10-18.
  39. Hayward, Anthony (26 December 2003). "Alexis Kanner". London: The Independent. Retrieved 2009-05-20.
  40. "The Unmutual Website News Archive:17 January 2004". Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-18.

External links

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