From Ballet to The Batcave and Beyond
By Yvonne Craig (Batgirl)
(from her chapter The Man From U.N.C.L.E.)
I was absolutely enchanted with David McCallum. I thought he was not only sexy, witty and smart, but also a fine actor. It helped that we were reading the same book at the time and discussed it. The clincher came one day when the entire cast was shooting on the back lot and I was waiting for them to return. My dressing room was locked so I wound up sitting in an empty chair on the stage awaiting their return. David was the first one back. When he asked why I wasn’t in my dressing room, I said I’d been locked out. Whereupon, he picked the lock and got me in saying, "A piece of cake." I mentally added practicality to his list of attributes.
David told me about his wonderful whirlwind romance (I think he said they’d known one another three days!) prior to marrying his wife, Jill Ireland. His face lit up when he spoke of her. He also mentioned that he thought I would be a perfect date for his best friend of whom he spoke in glowing terms. He said his friend was talented, sensitive, that he painted and was highly misunderstood. When I asked the name of this paragon he replied, "Charlie Bronson."
Uh oh! I had already met Charlie Bronson when he was doing his series, Man With A Camera and I was a guest star on the episode, "Hot Ice Cream." We shot some of this at a defunct (Pacific Ocean Park) amusement park at the beach. Off screen Charlie seemed to me to be overly macho and on the edge of mean. He roughhoused with crewmembers and it almost always got just a little too rough on his part.
However, when we got back to the studio he graciously offered me the use of his permanent dressing room for my dog, Sebastian. He said it never was used because he always used the one on the soundstage. I accepted. That evening when it came time for me to go home, he opened up the permanent dressing room for me to get my dog. On my way out the door, he barred my passage and tried to kiss me. I fended him off but took note that he was very wiry and strong. I knew I would never want to be in a position of having to struggle with him.
The next day he apologized profusely and said he didn’t know what had come over him. I didn’t either, so I accepted his apology and assumed there would not be a recurrence. Wrong! Forget the dog-in-the-dressing-room business—I’d left Sebastian at home. But, after the final shot of that episode, Charlie insisted on walking me to my car where he did a ‘Jekyll and Hyde,’ pinning me at the door as I tried to get in. For years after that, any time I met Charlie in a social situation I always stuck out my hand to shake hands with him and instinctively took a step backward.
When turning down being fixed up with Charlie, I didn’t give any of these gory details to David. In retrospect, perhaps I should have. In one of David’s conversations about what a wonderful friend Charlie was, he mentioned that Charlie was spending time helping Jill find furnishings and decorations for the McCallum's house. Several weeks after I finished shooting The Man From U.N.C.L.E., I saw Charlie and Jill together in a restaurant in Beverly Hills. From their behavior, I concluded they were more than friends. David became aware of this sometime later and he and Jill were divorced. She married Charlie.
Not long ago a mutual friend told me David was appearing in a play (Communicating Doors) off Broadway. My husband and I went to see it and David was, of course, terrific in it. He’s a little older, as we all are, but remains the same gracious, gentle, man he was in U.N.C.L.E. days. He takes wonderful artistic photos and I’d love to see his work in a gallery someday.