Peter Wyngarde, Charismatic Star of 'Jason King,' Dies at 90

Geoff Shields/Getty Images
Peter Wyngarde

Aside from playing the louche spy, he headlined horror film 'Burn, Witch, Burn!' opposite Janet Blair and popped up as a villain in the camp classic 'Flash Gordon.'

Peter Wyngarde, the charismatic star of spy series Department S and its spinoff show, Jason King, and a mainstay of British television, has died. He was 90.

Wyngarde died Monday at the Chelsea and Westminster hospital in London, his agent Thomas Bowington announced.

Wyngarde appeared in films such as Alexander the Great (1956), The Siege of Sidney Street (1960) and The Innocents (1961) as well as seminal British television shows including The Avengers; The Saint; The Champions; Doctor Who; and The Prisoner, where he portrayed Number Two in the episode "Checkmate."

Wyngarde is most fondly remembered for Department S, a spy series that ran for two seasons in the U.K. starting in 1969. He played the suave handlebar-moustached Jason King, an author of adventure novels and a member of Interpol who always seemed to get the girl.

After the success of Department S, Wyngarde's character was given his own spinoff, simply titled Jason King, that ran for 26 episodes in the U.K. and was syndicated around the world. Mike Myers has cited the dandy lothario spy as an inspiration for Austin Powers. 

In the camp cult classic Flash Gordon (1980), Wyngarde, behind a gold metallic mask, played the menacing General Klytus, commander of Ming the Merciless' police force. He meets his gruesome end at the hands of the title character (played by Sam J. Jones), who throws him on a platform of spikes.

Wyngarde, who was born in Marseille, France, also headlined the horror film Burn, Witch, Burn! (1962), playing a professor whose wife (Janet Blair), unknown to him, is practicing witchcraft.

He also had a modest career as a recording artist at the height of his Jason King fame. 

A number of British television, stage and screen actors paid tribute to Wyngarde on social media.