In New Orleans, a beautiful redhead met David McCallum at a
press conference and promptly returned her engagement ring to the fellow she'd
been dating for two years. In Chicago, a slender brunette touched his hand
in the control room of a radio station and fainted. In St. Louis, a
pretty waitress implored him to whisk her to Hollywood and make her his favorite
Thrush agent. In Dallas, a whole Bevy of young lovelies actually brought
him to his knees with their affection.
As a matter of fact, from Dallas to New York, from Los Angeles
to Miami, the quiet Scot with the shy, stern look is suddenly target-A for love.
It's impossible to count the girls who try to steal his kisses--and you want to
know the truth? The handsome Scot is in a state of shock! He gives
his kisses to only one girl--his wife Jill. Recently, he took off for
Florida with Jill and their three young sons for what they hoped would be a
peaceful vacation. They were heading for a quiet, unpublicized spot, away
from the swarm of females who follow David everywhere he goes.
But as they walked toward the air terminal in Dallas, David
sensed something new. The group of girls suddenly kindled. There was
a flicker of recognition mounting to a quick blaze. They
"It's David!" someone cried and the group was immediately
beset with a sort of hesitant hysteria. You could feel it.
"Everything all right?" David asked MGM public relations
man Chuck Painter who was hurrying along on the other side of Jill.
"Everything's great!" answered Chuck. "They really
dig U.N.C.L.E. down here."
With which the thirty girls, all very chic, surged past the
ropes with their autograph books.
"May I give you a Texas welcome?" asked a brunette
in a neat beige suit.
David had no idea what a Texas welcome might be.
"Yes, indeed," he said.
An arm wound tentatively round his neck, the neat beige suit
came up close, the girl gave him a bashful peck on his cheek. Before
he could react, a taller girl, a blonde this time and slightly more ambitious,
"Do you mind?" she asked, turning to Jill.
"No, indeed, be my guest," Jill said graciously.
With which the girl put both arms around him and gave David a
As if at a signal, they all moved in at once. The
barriers were down, the major offensive was under way. They used wrestling
holds, each girl had her turn. David was beginning to feel like a
cyclotron bombarded with atoms. It was all very lovely but a little
hectic. They kissed him and they kissed Jill, chattered a mile a minute,
about U.N.C.L.E. and how they loved David and how exciting the show
was. By the time a couple of policemen had escorted the McCallums to their
car, David and Jill had realized that something new had definitely been added in
the way of public response.
In a restaurant that night, the waitress sidled up to their
table, leaned intimately against David's shoulder and whispered in
conspiratorial tones, "Next time, get a welding torch that works." She
was referring, of course, to a recent episode in which, in a crucial moment, his
welding torch didn't work.
"Watch out for the waitress," crooned the hat check girl,
snuggling up to him, "she's a Thrush agent."
"Next time get a box of matches," whispered a handsome
young redhead cuddling close as David and Jill rode the elevator up to their
hotel room. She, too, was alluding to the inadequate blow torch.
The entire Dallas interlude was like this. The phone
never stopped ringing, the girls never stopped following him. Everyone
wanted to get in the act. David realized every moment with increasing
surprise, the size, the complexity and the ingenuity of the audience that
watches The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and the amazing reaction they
seem to have to him!
He appeared on TV and radio shows. In one control room,
a girl somehow got past all studio personnel, walked in, stood there
gazing at him in such a trance, as if any minute, she might faint. She was
a pale, sweet-looking child and when David said hello, she trembled and said,
"Can I.....could I....please, may I have your autograph?"
"As I took the book from the girl's hands, about 4000 volts
went from her to me," David says. "I was afraid she was going to fall onto the
controls and the whole station would be off the air."
"May I just touch you?" she whispered, and when she touched
his arm, David received another shock as 4000 volts again went right through
him.Then the girl's attractive young mother arrived, and when she shook
hands with him, it was another jolt.
That's how it was in Dallas. Electricity was really in
the air and it was fun and some moments it was a little scary.
Like the scene at the airport as they left. He and Jill
approached Gate 17 to join a group of waiting passengers, while MGM man Painter
checked in the luggage. They'd had a good night's sleep, were feeling
refreshed, and they looked immaculate with Jill in her crisp
Givenchy suit, David in sport jacket and well-pressed slacks. They
were talking to each other, totally absorbed, when suddenly they heard a
scream.It was what very special scream, identifiable to any age as the
star-identification syndrome, fearful as a Comanche war whoop Down upon
them swooped what seemed like an army of 17 and 18 year olds--their
friends from yesterday's welcoming committee, producing dozens and dozens of new
recruits. A front line lieutenant carried a huge sheaf of roses
which she thrust toward Jill. In the momentum of the onslaught, Jill not
only took the roses, she got pinned back against the wall....David tried
to help her, couldn't, and went down into a crouching position, as girls swarmed
all over him, all over both of them. They kissed David from stem to
stern,---his head, his jacket, every inch of it--they surrounded him so
completely that MGM's painter, having heard the screaming, and dashing to
the rescue, could see only one scrap of David's tweed jacket throughout the
"David, oh David!" screamed the girls. "Don't
go. Don't go, David. We love you in Dallas, David!"
"Let him breathe," yelled Painter, diving into the
huddle. "Here, here, where's your respect?"
For answer, he got a purse slammed onto the back of his head,
someone scratched his arm, and a dainty girl, in a stunning Neiman Marcus
ensemble, bit his right hand. Now Chuck is a good-looking guy, redheaded, well
built, well scrubbed and young. In another situation, they'd have
vied for him, but he was their enemy of the moment because he was trying
to whisk darling David away from Dallas. So they clawed Chuck and
smothered David with embraces. Chuck, who could be a football tackle,
finally made it through the line, grabbed David by the shoulders of his coat and
yanked him to his feet. Then he swung around to rescue Jill, who was still
backed up against the wall, the roses clutched to her chest, and absolute terror
on her pretty face.
With order restored, David and Jill were stashed behind the
ticket taker, but in view, and the girls could converse with their idol.
"Next time you come to Texas, stay at my house," pleaded
"What about your father and mother?" laughed
"Oh, Mother'll get rid of Father, " the girl
"Oh David, we love you," cried the girls, and again the
piercing scream. "Jill, we love you too."
And then there was no more time. The plane was leaving,
and David, and Jill still in a state of shock, were whisked away from Dallas,
from the arms of the McCallum adorers.
David's handsome face, grave and reflective as always,
was covered with lipstick and he felt their fellow passengers on the plane were
regarding him with something close to disdain. Not the stewardesses,
however. Stewardesses are girls and if you are a girl in this
year of our Lord 1965, you just naturally give off sparks for this shy, sexy
Scotsman with his shock of blond hair. He made both stewardesses
U.N.C.L.E. agents and went on to Chicago where
he was mobbed in the hotel lobby and almost torn to pieces. Girls hugged
him and girls kissed him and buried their faces in his hair, while stalwart
citizens in the lobby simply stood there as if--who does he think he
Well, he's The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and he couldn't be more
"I expected some people to recognize me. It's become
difficult , for example, to go to the beach with Jill and the children as we've
always done because people come up constantly to ask for autographs, but I never
expected anything like this traveling. The first time we went out, the
show had just gone on and no one knew who I was. But this time, obviously,
they knew, and obviously a lot of people watched the show. It's all very
simple. All entertainment is identification in one form or another.
If you're going to do derring-do adventures with pretty girls in people's living
rooms, you're going to take your audience along with you. You have to
accept this. The last thing I've ever dreamed of being is a walking sex
symbol. But I do see that especially the young people in the audience find
it difficult to divorce the reality of what they see on screen from you as a
person. And if they find you attractive.............."
We were having lunch at MGM the day after his return and I
never let him get any further in this, if they find you
attractive...............Because of course they do find him attractive, and
I thought to myself, when he and Jill take off for other towns, MGM's
public relations department would do well to have a cordon of police on hand.
What makes it especially amusing is that David is a quiet,
self-contained man who isn't in the least overwhelmed by show business and has
no predilection for its glamorous overtones.
He's a man dedicated to his wife and three kids. At
every stop on the trip, as soon as he could disengage himself from the girls,
he'd head for the newsstand at the airport, to send his son Paul a post
card. Paul is six and David sends him a post card from every village and
hamlet and delights in finding him educational toys, always something that's a
challenge. He and Jill hate to leave the children, and couldn't but for
the Welsh housekeeper Jean, and her Scottish friend Margaret, who look after the
youngsters, so that on these brief flying trips, Jill and David can see
America together. First with the McCallums, before anything, is their own
life. Then, acting.
David loves acting. He's planned his career carefully,
and as a matter of fact, he and Jill together do a great deal of planning about
"We've worked together to choose the way I should go. We
decided that if you want to spread out in this business, and we both want to do
that, then the choice has to be New York, Hollywood or Rome. Since I'd
been chosen as Judas in The Greatest Story Ever Told, we decided on
Hollywood. And the reason for taking a TV series was strictly for
exposure. International recognition if possible." It's proved very
"But neither of us is satisfied to let acting be the
predominant force in our lives. Pictures, all acting, the whole
entertainment business is fast-moving and has no great depth. Therefore,
if you want to have an interesting life, you have to have something more than
acting which is, basically, false from the word go. You're always acting
out a truth that has no truth. If you're going to make a living in a
shallow medium you must be successful and you must carefully plan the rest of
your life. You must have a personal life, intellectual interests, some
The new popularity has added a new facet to the plan--a boat
is the newest facet. Now that the girls have discovered David, he would
like to buy a boat and learn to sail. The sea is a way of isolating himself,
isolating himself with Jill, with Paul, with Jason and with the baby,
Valentine. He knows nothing about boats or the sea, but the last time they tried
going to the beach, they were surrounded by girls wanting autographs. Now
he loves girls but on occasion, he must be his own man, so a boat is the next
step. And if they keep shuttling him from one place to another every
weekend, he says he'd better learn to pilot a Boeing 707.
No matter how he gets there, the girls are going to be
waiting, and for once they latched onto a young intellectual from whom they can
learn a great deal...if they'll stop kissing him long enough to listen.
For example......"Male and female means nothing until they are married..
Marriage does not mean much until children come along and then you
become a family, the basic of mankind. Morality, marriage,
religion.They're all very much bound up with the question of
He wasn't quite aware of all this when a week after they'd
started dating, he married Jill. But he's aware of it now, and with
effort, his aim and his plan is to make their marriage the rock on which
his existence is founded.
His one concern is that Jill have her own individuality, not
be swept up into his. He admits that his favorite U.N.C.L.E. episodes have
been those on which Jill appeared as a guest star, his romantic interest.
The girls loved those episodes and are great fans of Jill's--as testimony
are the sheaf of roses and the fan mail addressed to her.
There are people who allow life to use them, but David and
Jill are not of that ilk. They are thinkers and they are planners and they
are doers. Two years ago, they flew out of fog bound London, flew over the
pole, and arrived in Chicago in the dead of the night, terribly tired, and
without their luggage, David carrying Paul who was four then and sound
asleep. No one knew them. No one sensed that they were
gambling two good careers on a whole new way of life, for very big
stakes. They caught the next plane to Los Angeles and walked all over the
city in the sun, found little restaurants and sat for hours, talking, enjoying
the luxury of uninterrupted conversation, planning.
The gamble paid off and the plans materialized faster that
they'd bargained for. The Man From U.N.C.L.E. has caught on,
David is becoming familiar wherever they go, and there is less time for
uninterrupted conversation. There is now a need for a new plan or
Article by Jane Ardmore.