Character actor Thomas Patrick McKenna was born in Mullagh, County Cavan, Ireland, in 1929. A prolific theater actor throughout his career, he made his stage debut in "Summer and Smoke" by 田纳西·威廉斯 at the Pike Theatre in Dublin in 1954.
He made his film debut in the IRA-Nazi drama 夜斗士 (1960) and from this uncredited beginning he moved up to tenth billing in The Siege of Sidney Street (1960). His next major movie was in 1964's 碧水情瞳 (1964), by which time he had started a successful television career.
He made his TV debut in Espionage (1963) and over the next few years appeared in several more TV shows. His versatility enabled him to play three characters in The Avengers (1961). He was also featured in such well-regarded shows as Adam Adamant Lives! (1966), Dixon of Dock Green (1955) and The Saint (1962).
Meanwhile, his film career was developing along literary lines, and he was featured in 布兰登·贝汉's The Quare Fellow (1962), the 肖恩·奥凯西 biopic 鹃血忠魂 (1965) and James Joyce's Ulysses (1967). He took smaller parts in such epics as 英烈传 (1968) and 安妮的一千日 (1969).
British films such as 完美星期五 (1970) and 硬汉 (1971) allowed him to showcase his suave, urbane persona before trying something different in the controversial 稻草狗 (1971). He appeared alongside a young 安东尼·霍普金斯 in 芸芸众生 (1975) before starring with 约翰·吉尔古德 for the second time, this time in 一个青年艺术家的肖像 (1977). Over the next few years his co-stars were as diverse as 雷纳德·洛塞特 (大不列颠医院 (1982)), 提摩西·道尔顿 (医生与魔鬼 (1985)), 本·金斯利 (帕斯卡利之岛 (1988)) and 杜夫·龙格尔 (Red Scorpion (1988)). Not all of these films were successes, but McKenna always gave good value for the money and developed themes of his, such as an interest in Irish issues, in 局外人 (1979). His last released film was 瓦尔蒙 (1989), which was unfortunately completely overshadowed by 危险关系 (1988), which was based on the same novel.
Over the years he has made numerous guest appearances in TV series such as Minder (1979), Casualty (1986), Lovejoy (1986), Inspector Morse (1987), Heartbeat (1992) and Ballykissangel (1996). McKenna has also been prominent in TV movies and series, featuring in 查尔斯·狄更斯' Masterpiece Theatre: Bleak House (1985), 斯汤达's Scarlet and Black (1993) and most recently an adaptation of 亨利·詹姆斯' 美国人 (1998).
McKenna is up there with the greats of character acting such as 莱昂内尔·杰弗里斯, 丹尼斯·普莱斯, 理查德·沃迪斯, 维尔弗雷德·海德 and 约翰·勒.