The official announcement came exactly nine years and nine days after thewedding, n a Reuters news dispatch from Santa Margherita, Italy, whereDavid was on location, meager details of the McCallum separation were publiclyaired for the first time. They were:
Actor David McCallum said here Friday (May 20th) he and his wife, JillIreland, have separated, but declined to comment on reports that they would seeka divorce.
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In a statement here, McCallum said:
"Jill and I have maintained a form of separation for some time now, dueto the fact that I have been in Europe for the past two months.
"I think it is prudent that I withhold any further comment on this situationuntil I have had a chance to talk to Jill in person on my return to LosAngeles."
McCallum is starring in Three Bites of the Apple... He is best knownfor his role as Illya Kuryakin in The Man From U.N.C.L.E. televisionseries.
These comments are authentic McCallum -- a few brief sentences devoid ofanything remotely resembling excessive emotion. but then dignity hasalways been the hallmark of David"s private life. He is known for discreetsilence regarding his wife and children, so those who know McCallum best agreed thatthese words represented the most difficult public statement he had ever had tomake. Only when silence was no longer possible did David speak out. Thewords, seemingly simple in form, must have come as a result of a complex anddesperate situation. They are the equivalent of a ringing emotional confessionfrom anyone else.
The statement did not wholly surprise many people in Hollywood; but it didcatch even the most inside insiders off-guard. For the timing wasunexpected and thence baffling. Why did David find it necessary to releasethe statement from Italy when he was due back home within a few weeks?Why, when in "polite circles" it is the wife who customarily makessuch announcements, was it David who issued the statement? If there is adivorce, is David"s precedent-setting pronouncement a revealing prologue tolegal fireworks, or will the rest of the situation be handled in his typicalhush-hush manner?
These are but a few of the many questions pertaining to L"Affaire McCallum-- questions which, at the moment, have no apparent answers. it must,therefore be assumed at this time that there seems to be very little chance ofsurvival for the McCallum marriage. David felt obligated to make a publiccomment immediately; hence he must have felt backed against the wall.
Two more crucial questions remain unanswered: How long has trouble beenbrewing in the McCallum household? And is divorce inevitable for Jill andDavid? The answers may be buried deep within two aching hearts. Butthere are certain known facts which do serve to shed some light on thesituation...
On May 11th, 1957, in London, England, 21-year-old actress Jill Irelandbecame the bride of 24-year-old actor David McCallum, Romance led to marriage inrecord time. For nine years they weathered many storms seemingly unscarred-- until lately. Still, in candid moments, David admits that a longercourtship might have made the early years of their marriage easier.
At the beginning of the second week after their meeting, Jill invited Davidto her twenty-first birthday party. For a week following the party, theyworked together by day and dated by night. Somewhere during that weekDavid proposed. At the end of that week they were married.
From the very beginning, there was an ever-present rival present in theMcCallum household. That rival was ambition. David was at a pointwhere succeeding as an actor was of paramount importance. Because of hislove for Jill, not despite it, he worked harder than ever to achieve thatsuccess. Jill, at the time, was far better known than David and much moresuccessful. She was accustomed to the adulation of fans and to seeing her namein print and her face on magazine covers -- with regularity. David wasonly a promising young actor, just making his second film; he had nowhere to gobut up, and he was eager to get there as rapidly as possible.
David may have seemed soft-spoken and shy to the world, but Jill knew fromthe beginning that she had married a dynamo -- a man consumed with ambition andgifted with great talent, hungering for the opportunity to make his ability knowto the public. Because of her love for him, Jill began almost immediatelyto sublimate her own professional desires in a constant effort to reassure herhusband and to keep him going when the breaks did not seem to come fast enough.
Early in their marriage, Jill discovered a facet of David"s personality thatshe feared might hinder him severely in his career. He was unable to takecriticism and fell victim to moods of silence whenever anyone offeredconstructive help. Jill, deeply in love, transformed this flaw into anasset by offering him love and encouragement along with subtle constructive suggestions-- which, to his credit, he eventually accepted. During this time, Jill"sown career became secondary. But it was a sacrifice she made freely andhappily.
During the early months of their marriage, David spent a great deal of timeaway from home -- studying, doing try-outs, on long interviews, or atwork. When he finally did come home at night, he was too tired totalk. When they did talk, the conversation centered on hisproblems, his career, his struggle for success. Jillmade some attempts to return to work, but there were lonely gaps in the daysthat stretched into weeks. She sought to fill them with the creativeoutlet which next to acting satisfied her most. She began to paint inearnest. She acquired a new set of friends, the majority of them artists,painters and sculptors. With them, and through them, some of Jill"s emptyhours were filled.
Four months after they were married, Jill became pregnant. She did nothave an easy time and was forced to spend more and more of her days athome. Her husband, proud of the coming event, was nonetheless stillconsumed with his career. He was insufficiently aware of his wife"sincreasing loneliness. There was no deliberate attempt to hurt Jill or toshut her out. But Jill found the going rough. It was only in lateryears that David realized what he had done to his wife. From that moment,he worked desperately to make up for the early errors of omission.
On June 2, 1958, a son, Paul, was born. He lent new dimension to their love.A child meant increased responsibilities, and in their common goal to ensuretheir son"s future security, they were drawn closer together.
In the second year of their marriage, David had an opportunity to do a filmcalled Caroline, to shot on location in Yugoslavia. Leaving theirson with Jill"s parents, the McCallums went off together. It turned out to be awonderful interlude -- a second honeymoon -- when trouble seemed to disappear inthe wake of shared happiness. but on their return home, David reverted tohis pattern of working day and night to reach to top. By this time they hadbought a large home, and Jill was kept busy with her young son and with redecoratingthe very first place she and David owned together.
Meanwhile, David decided the time had come to re-examine his plans forcareer. Realistically, he concluded his future in England waslimited. he hit on a possible alternative -- a long shot at best.But he reasoned that if he could not make the impact he wanted in England, therewas one place left which could possibly afford him the chance to rise fromobscurity to fame. The place he picked to gamble in was Hollywood.
Once formed, he set the idea into motion. His first step was to goafter a part in a Hollywood film locationing abroad. He got it -- he wasoffered a role in Freud, starring Montgomery Clift, directed by John Huston, andto be filmed in Munich, Germany, only an hour and a half by plane from hisLondon home. It was a turning point in David"s life. Through Mr. Huston,David was introduced via mail to a famous Hollywood agent, Paul Kohner, who wassoon to play a key part in McCallum"s destiny.
A few months later, the break came. David was cast in anotherAmerican film, also locationing in Munich, The Great Escape, to beproduced and directed by John Sturges.
David and Jill went to Munich together. His original small partdeveloped into a larger role. He and Jill were away for severalmonths. During the course of the filming, the McCallums became quitefriendly with other members of the cast, including Steve McQueen, James Garner-- and Charles Bronson.
Bronson and the McCallums hit it off especially well. David had been afan of Bronson"s for years, recognizing him as one of the most outstandingAmerican character actors. The McCallums and Charles Bronson soon foundthey had even more in common than acting. For Bronson, thoughrough-and-tumble looking, is actually a talented artist. He had painted andworked with clay sculpture for as far back as he could remember. The threewere drawn into close friendship.
During the filming, Jill was suddenly taken quite ill. Her ailment was bothserious and painful, and she was confined to bed for a portion of her stay inMunich. Out of kindness, on those days when David was filming and he wasnot, Bronson kept Jill company.
So it was in September, 1962, on location in Germany, that David and JillMcCallum first became indebted to Charles Bronson for his consideration andfriendship.
While David was still in Munich, agent Paul Kohner arrived in Germany.Mr. Kohner was able to arrange a screen test for David -- the part of Judas in TheGreatest Story Ever Told. John Sturges gave David a week"s leave tofly to America. Early in October, 1962, David McCallum landed in Hollywoodfor the first time. He was excited, he was in awe of the town itself --and the enormity of the possibilities which could be his -- if his screentest pleased George Stevens. The week ended, the tests were completed andDavid anxiously awaited a decision. But none was forthcoming. He flew backto Munich, down-heartedly convinced that his career in Hollywood had begun andended with a screen test.
He had not been back in Munich 24 hours when he received a call. He had wonthe part, and was expected to return immediately.
On October 16, 1962, David and Jill McCallum and 4-year-old Paul arrived inAmerica. David had rented (sight unseen) a posh home in Beverly Hills,costing roughly $2,000 a month -- because he thought that"s what all Hollywoodactors paid for their homes. On the day that David and Jill moved intotheir new home, David left for Arizona on location. He had made provisionsin his contract for his wife and child to visit him during the filming.but he landed in Arizona to find the Stevens" company bedded down in a mountain wilderness;once the company arrived, nothing could fly in and nobody could fly out.
For several months, David was torn by loneliness and concern for Jill, alonein a strange town, knowing no one except their agent and CharlesBronson. After a few months, he could take it no longer. He brokethe rules, left the compound, rented a motel suite 12 miles from where they werefilming and sent for his wife, his two sons (baby Jason had arrived in January,1963), the nurse, and even the family cat and dog. Happily they werereunited.
When the filming was over, the McCallums faced a serious decision. Whatand where was their future? Should they return to England? Shouldthey remain in America and wait the long months for the premiere of TheGreatest Story, in the hope that David"s performance would bring him otheroffers? Should they perhaps try New York for TV and stage possibilities?Or, despite limited finances, should they stick to David"s original goal, andstruggle along in Hollywood?
At this crucial point in their lives, Jill discovered that she was pregnantagain. So they decided to stay put for her comfort. They moved toMalibu Beach, to a cottage on the sand wit the Pacific Ocean in their frontyard. It was a happy time for them and their two children; the boys hadplaymates close by, the children of Charles Bronson who also lived in Malibu.
While Jill awaited the birth of her third child, David was offered the partof Illya Kuryakin in a proposed series called The Man From U.N.C.L.E.The Kuryakin character was so intangible that the producer of the series couldnot guarantee David it would run beyond the first eight or ten episodes.By some sound instinct, and good luck, McCallum accepted the part.
David and Jill now looked to establish roots. They went househunting. Coincidentally, Charles Bronson was also house hunting... It washe who found the multi-storied Spanish-style home, hugging a Hollywoodhillside. Enthusiastically, he showed it to his friends; gallantly hestepped aside, and the McCallums bought the house.
David and Jill were on the threshold of an oft-recorded chapter in theirhistory. In rapid succession they moved into their new home, baby Valentine wasborn, and filming on U.N.C.L.E. began in earnest. Their marriagewas strong and secure -- they were heading into the happiest times of their life-- fame hit suddenly, swiftly -- and in an unexpected form.
David McCallum became overnight a teen-age idol -- and began losing his homeat one and the same moment. He stoutly maintained that no amount of idolworship could unsettle him. But he fell victim to the same hysteria thathas overwhelmed idols before and will again tomorrow. At first, thepublicity, the interviews, the magazine stories were fun. Then thecrackdown came.
It all started when a movie magazine ran a photo of Jill McCallum and CharlesBronson attending a Hollywood soiree together -- without David. The truthwas that David had been forced to stay late at the studio, and had asked Bronsonto be a good chap and take Jill to the party. It was an act of friendshipwhich triggered the first of the many rumors, the vicious gossip, about Bronsonand Jill.
From then on, McCallum"s attitude toward the press took a downhillturn. His lack of cooperation came simultaneous with the peak of hispopularity. He was advised by "experts" that he could afford togive a terse "No comment" when asked about his wife and sons. For hewas a star.
Ironically, it was just this attitude which led a bewildered press, notaccustomed to being shut out, to exaggerate whatever was available. HadDavid proved more accessible, perhaps the Jill-Charles rumors would have diedout. David"s determined silence lent fuel to the flame.
But for the first time in his life, David felt totally independent -- he wasin a position where people were clamoring for him. The work schedule atthe studio was augmented with out-of-town trips, well-paid guest shots on otherTV shows, and a recording contract.
So the period in which David and Jill should have experiencing their happiesttimes turned into a nightmare followed with loneliness, tension, frequentseparation -- heartache. Some say that in her despair, Jill McCallumturned more and more to Charles Bronson for solace and companionship.Others say this is not true, that Charles had always been a close friend to bothDavid and Jill. Whatever the truth, the facts are that Jill Ireland hadgone to the altar with a promising young actor, only to become the wife ofAmerica"s newest idol.
She was not jealous of his success. And he, in turn, went out of hisway to woo her again, to bring her gifts, to take her out dining. His intentionswere so very decent and honorable -- but his success increasingly came betweenthem. Jill, a woman of great sensitivity, was possessed of the pride thatgoes hand in hand with this sensitivity. and it was her pride that hadbeen hurt most deeply -- the wounded pride of rejection compounded by lonelinessand the need to smile for the world.
In an attempt to smooth things over, Jill made a few location trips withDavid. It did no good. Her husband was as busy outside of Hollywood as hewas inside Hollywood. Jill only faced more hours of loneliness.
Somewhere along the line, Jill reached out to David for confirmation of hisneed for her -- of his love. It is a certainty that he did nointentionally fail her, that he did not purposely commit that final hurtful act.But nonetheless it happened. When it did, it was the beginning of the end.
Publicly, Jill hid her hurt by opening an art gallery with Charles Bronsonand a third artist. It was a wonderful outlet, she said: but those whoknew the situation realized it was only one more tangible proof of theever-widening gulf between Jill and David.
The gallery also served as a perfect excuse for Jill to remain behind whenDavid went to Europe to being work on his new film. So David went abroadand Jill remained behind with her sons. And more and more frequently,people saw Jill and her business partner Charles Bronson out together.
Then, a month after David left town, Bronson also headed for England to do afilm. Robbed of the companionship of both her husband and her good friend,the danger point came for Jill. Jill and David were "incommunication." And then the separation became official.
Meanwhile, a touch of irony chanced on the McCallums. While David wasabroad, Jill was signed to co-star in a new television series. She willplay the female lead in Shane. So, after two years of sitting athome while David spent his days and nights on a TV sound stage, Jill IrelandMcCallum was about to begin the same routine. What if Shane hadhappened at the same time as U.N.C.L.E.? Would the combined successand productivity have helped the twosome? Who can answer for the past?
At this moment, the McCallum future is up in the air.
Jill herself, according to reports from Hollywood columnist Harrison Carrollwho spoke with her, is rather silent on the subject of the future. She hassaid that neither she nor David talked with attorneys, and she will not discussdivorce until David returns from Europe. But she did firmly stress thatshe and Charles Bronson are nothing more than "business partners."
Is there some slim hope, with Jill and David on a more equal professionalfooting, of a reconciliation? It is a hope, a possibility, butunfortunately not as strong as the rumor of divorce for Jill and David -- andmarriage for Jill to Charles Bronson...
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Knowing what has happened these past few years, one could well ask of David,"Was it worth it?"
And McCallum might answer, as the character from his latest film The GreatEscape does, "It all depends on your point of view."
Surely, from David McCallum"s current point of view, he is paying quite aprice for success, for fame, for the financial security he worked so hard toachieve.
David has paid and is paying a great debt. Perhaps it will be many yearsbefore McCallum can objectively answer the question --