Patrick Troughton was born in Mill Hill, England, on March 25, 1920. He lived in the affluent suburb for the majority of his life, and began his acting career in a school play in 1937. He attended the Embassy School of Acting, where he was awarded a scholarship to Leighton Rallius Studios on Long Island, New York.
In 1940, Troughton joined the Royal Navy and was made a Lieutenant with the Royal Naval Reserve. He received the 1939-45 Star and the Atlantic Star decorations, and he was said to have worn a tea cosy on his head in cold weather when on the North Sea. Troughton returned to theater after the war, and in 1947 he made his television debut. The following year, he made his first cinematic appearance with small roles in films such as "Hamlet," "Treasure Island" and Joseph L. Mankiewicz directed "Escape," which starred William Hartnell. In 1953, Troughton became the first actor to play Robin Hood on television, starring in six half hour episodes on the BBCs "Robin Hood."
He continued to make a name for himself in film and in television, when "Doctor Who" producer, Innes Lloyd decided to replace William Hartnell as the Doctor in 1966. It has been rumored that Hartnell himself approved of his replacement, saying that "There's only one man in England who can take over, and that's Patrick Troughton." Lloyd chose Troughton for the part because of his tenure as a character actor, which was essential as they weren't looking to cast someone who would be a Hartnell copy; they needed someone convincing enough to make audiences accepting of an entirely new actor and personality, despite playing the same character. Troughton's interpretation of the Doctor went through a few ideas, such as a salty sea pirate in a turban and blackface. Thankfully, a producer of the show suggested a "cosmic hobo" based on Charlie Chaplin, and that was the foundation of Troughton's second Doctor.
He rarely gave interviews during his time as the Doctor, stating that "Acting is magic. If I tell you about myself it will spoil it." He later revealed that his greatest concern was that too much publicity would limit his future roles. He was a father figure to the whole cast and crew, and apparently, quite a prankster.
After three seasons, Troughton announced his departure from the show in 1969. At the time, each season was between 40 to 44 episodes long, which turned out to be quite taxing on the actor, and he also feared being typecast. After his time on the show, "the Troughton Rule" became a sort of unwritten rule amongst actors to keep them from getting typecast in a role on any potentially long running programs. Allegedly, he told fifth Doctor, Peter Davison, to limit his time on the show to three seasons. Davison followed this advice. Troughton returned to the role of the Doctor three times after his departure from the show, in 1973, 1983 and 1985. This is currently more than any other actor to play the role.
After "Doctor Who," Troughton returned to film and television. Later in his life, he developed a heart condition from overwork and stress, suffering his first heart attack in 1979. Deliberately disobeying his doctors, Troughton kept his schedule heavily packed. In 1984, he suffered his second serious heart attack. In March of 1987, again disobeying doctors orders, Troughton was a guest at the Magnum Opus Con II, in Georgia. It is said that Troughton was in great spirits while partaking in panels and meeting fans on Friday, March 27, and was greatly looking forward to a belated birthday celebration and screening of "Doctor Who" story, "The Dominators," the following day. Sadly, Troughton suffered his third and fatal heart attack on the morning of March 28, 1987.
His grandson, Sam Troughton, appeared in BBCs 2006 version of "Robin Hood," while his grandson Harry Melling is known for portraying Dudley Dursley in JK Rowling's "Harry Potter" franchise. In the upcoming BBC special, "An Adventure in Space and Time," which depicts the early years of the show, Troughton will be portrayed by Reece Shearsmith.