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Ronald Reagan and Pat O'Brien in "Knute Rockne, All American"

These Patricks are famous, but they're not all saints!

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Ronald Reagan and Pat O'Brien in "Knute Rockne, All American"

It's a common Irish name, but who has made Ireland's patron saint proud? We asked a hundred reasonably well-informed folks at a major Irish American event to give us a list of at least ten famous Patricks. Here, in no particular order, are the winners.

Patrick Swayze

Swayze was an actor, dancer and singer-songwriter. He was best-known for his roles as romantic leading men in the films "Dirty Dancing" and "Ghost" and as Orry Main in the "North and South" television miniseries. He was named by People magazine as its "Sexiest Man Alive" in 1991. Diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer in January 2008, Swayze told Barbara Walters a year later that he was "kicking it." His last role was the lead in an ill-fated A&E TV series, "The Beast," which premiered on January 15, 2009. Due to a prolonged decline in health, Swayze was unable to promote the series.
Swayze died Sept. 14, 2009.

Patrick Stewart

Sir Patrick Hewes Stewart was born July 13, 1940 and is an English film, television and stage actor. He has had a distinguished career in theater and television for around half a century. He is most widely known for his television and film roles, as Captain Jean-Luc Picard in "Star Trek: The Next Generation," and Professor Charles Xavier in the "X-Men" films.

Patrick Bergin

Patrick Connolly Bergin was born in Dublin February 4, 1951. He is an actor best known for playing the menacing husband of Julia Roberts' character in the thriller "Sleeping with the Enemy." Bergin also appeared as Robin Hood in a 1991 TV movie. He recently played the role of psychotic Provisional Irish Republican Army gunman in "Johnny Was," opposite Vinnie Jones and Roger Daltrey. Bergin was once a math teacher.

Patrick McGoohan

Patrick Joseph McGoohan was born March 19, 1928 and died January 13, 2009. He was an American-born actor, raised in Ireland and England, with an extensive stage and film career, most notably in the 1960s television series "Danger Man" (renamed "Secret Agent" when exported to the US), and "The Prisoner." McGoohan wrote and directed several episodes of "The Prisoner" himself, occasionally using the pseudonyms Joseph Serf and Paddy Fitz. He subsequently appeared in David Cronenberg's "Scanners," and in Mel Gibson's "Braveheart" as Edward Longshanks.

Pat O'Brien

O'Brien was born William Joseph Patrick O'Brien to an Irish-American Catholic family in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He served as an altar boy and later attended Marquette Academy with fellow actor Spencer Tracy, and later attended Marquette University. O'Brien appeared with James Cagney in nine feature films, including "Angels with Dirty Faces" and Cagney's last film, "Ragtime" in 1981. He began appearing in movies (many times playing Irish cops or priests) in the 1930s, starting with the role of ace reporter Hildy Johnson in the original version of "The Front Page" in 1931. He appeared in the highly successful 1946 suspense film, "Crack-Up" and played the lead in "The Personality Kid." O'Brien may be best remembered for his role as a police detective opposite George Raft in "Some Like It Hot" and the title role of a football coach in "Knute Rockne, All American," in which he gave the speech to "win just one for the Gipper," referring to recently deceased football player, George Gipp, portrayed in the film by a young Ronald Reagan. He died October 15, 1983.

Patrick Dempsey

Patrick Galen Dempsey is an American actor and race car driver, known for his role as neurosurgeon Dr. Derek Shepherd ("McDreamy") on the medical drama "Grey's Anatomy." He has also recently appeared in several films, including "Sweet Home Alabama," "The Emperor's Club," "Freedom Writers," "Enchanted," "Made of Honor," and "Valentine's Day." Dempsey was diagnosed with dyslexia at age twelve. He told Barbara Walters on her 2008 Oscar special that he thinks dyslexia "made him what he is today. It's given me a perspective of -- you have to keep working," Dempsey told Walters. "I have never given up."

Neil Patrick Harris

Neil Patrick Harris was born June 15, 1973. Prominent roles in his acting career include the title role in "Doogie Howser, M.D.", the womanizing Barney Stinson in "How I Met Your Mother," a fictionalized version of himself in the "Harold & Kumar" series, and the title role in Joss Whedon's Emmy Award-winning musical web series "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog." He also hosted the 63rd Tony Awards in 2009 and the 61st Primetime Emmy Awards the same year. On March 7, 2010, he made a surprise appearance at the 82nd Academy Awards, delivering the opening musical number. In 2006, he revealed he was gay.

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