David's trip to Japan was strictly business but it turned into an enchanted holiday... all because of his girl, Katherine Carpenter
Their mouths fell open when David McCallum stood before them and calmly proposed what he was going to do. Here were the producer and public relations men connected with The Man From U.N.C.L.E. outlining the tour of Australia and the Orient which they wanted him to go on to promote U.N.C.L.E. David kept blandly nodding his head in agreement all the while. All had been going well, until David tossed the little bomb. "I'll take Katherine with me," he said in a voice so quiet that at first the impact was scarcely noticed.
Then it hit them. Katherine. Katherine Carpenter is the slim, long-legged 21-year-old beauty to whom David has been devoted since his breakup with his wife, Jill Ireland. But David's divorce from Jill isn't final yet. To tote a young sweetheart along on a tour through foreign lands added up to implications that could lead to just one conclusion. The element of scandal was bound to spring up. There would be whispers, snickers and winks. Not to mention a few stiff-necked parents who might be outraged. All these possibilities were presented to David that day, but he stood firm.
In the past certain film heroes have had their sweethearts join them on personal appearances. But the girls have been hidden from view. David was different. He maintained he would openly take his girlfriend on this tour with him.
There was a steely glint in his normally soft blue eyes. She would go with him openly, he emphasized. There would be no secretiveness about it. If there was only one deluxe hotel in the city where he was to stay, Katherine would be ensconced in that hotel too. If there were any parades, press conferences and public Hoop-de-doos, he would have Katherine by his side. It would be an open proclamation of his love for the girl who so quickly filled the gap after his separation from his wife.
David would not be shaken from his decision. When he was married to Jill, he'd done everything to shield his reputation from scandal. Even to the last, he kept denying that another man- his former best friend, burly Charles Bronson- had intruded into his marriage.
By the use of secrecy, he'd tried to keep these sensational details private in order to protect his three young children - and also to protect the image of his role of Illya in U.N.C.L.E., a character whom teenagers all over the world loved and wanted to emulate.
Now, he was willing to toss away the reputation he'd carefully guarded for love of the sinuous-bodied young model. All the studio arguments couldn't sway David from his desire to take his girlfriend on the tour with him.
"This may have shocked the studio, but it was good news to those of us who love David," explained a close friend who's known David since he came to Hollywood with Jill four years ago. "David was willing to toss his reputation away. For the first time in his life he's acting recklessly and impulsively. All this represents a change in David. But , in a way, it's a healthy change. It means he's coming out of his depression and repression. A year ago when he and Jill parted, ending a nine year marriage, David seemed inconsolable. He was humiliated, as well as heartbroken, to discover that Jill preferred Charles Bronson to him. There'd been a lot of talk about Jill's infatuation for Charles and when she and David separated, she and Bronson were seen everywhere together.
"David was deeply hurt. He started to retreat into a shell. Then he met Katherine Carpenter. She's made a new man of him. If she's made him so happy and outgoing that he wants to defy convention to be with her, I say that's all to the good."
The friend was referring to the period last year when David, on location in Rome for Three Bites of the Apple learned that his wife was visiting Charles Bronson on his Dirty Dozen location in England. Although David was only a few hours away by jet, Jill didn't bother to visit him. It was a bitter blow to David. But the human heart-even one as hurt as David's- has an infinite capacity for healing. And David found someone new to bring light into his life and make him laugh again. And having found her, he does not want to lt her go.
He and Katherine Carpenter had met quite by accident. On a Sunday in New York last year, he and Bob Vaughn were posing for one of those crazy fashion magazine spreads, the were accompanied by several high fashion models to various landmarks about the city, grabbing shots before crowds could gather. One of the models was Katherine.
David was intrigued by her slender, statuesque beauty and her cool manner. At the time, he still had hopes of saving his wavering marriage to Jill. But when Jill filed for divorce, he knew there was no use fighting any longer. He was morose and lonely. The he remembered the beautiful young girl who'd lifted his heart that Sunday in New York. He called her. From that time on, he and Katherine have been devoted.
For the first time, the usually taciturn David goes into raves about a girl."She's an entrancing girl," he recently enthused to a close friend. "She's got enormous eyes, you know, and such grace- she reminds me of a jungle cat, she's so lithe. She's full of gaiety, and also has enormous good sense."
Her gaiety spilled over into David's life, and he's fallen helplessly in love with her- even to the point of not allowing geography to get in the way of their romance. "Katherine lives in New York," he explained, and my work requires me to be in Hollywood most of the time. But she takes an occasional week off to come out to California to see me, and I try to manage a Friday or Monday off from U.N.C.L.E. to spend a long weekend with her.
"When I had to go to Philadelphia to help publicize my record album, Katherine met me there. We had a great time together."
But their biggest adventure together came a few weeks ago when the Far East tour came up. David was scheduled to fly to the Orient to help promote his TV show, which is immensely popular in Japan, Hong Kong, Australia, and other countries in that part of the world. "Here I was, faced with a fantastic adventure- a seven-day tour of the orient and Australia." said David. "I was to see Japan and Hong Kong, where I had never been, and to revisit Australia and see the changes since I had visited there ten years before. That was an experience that had to be shared. I could think of no one I'd rather share it with than Katherine."
The possibility of scandal was raised by executives of MGM, which produces The man From U.N.C.L.E. "Ridiculous!" David replied. "Katherine is going along as my friend. Can't two people travel together without causing a lot of tongue clicking?" he defied censure of the studio bosses. Katherine accompanied him, as did a studio publicist, Gene Webster.
Upon his return, David commented: "the fears of the MGM people were unfounded. We had press conferences wherever we went, and there was not a word of criticism. Everyone was very interested in Katherine, and they seemed happy that I brought her along.
"Of course the reporters wanted to know if we were promised. My reply was always the same: that any such discussion would be premature, since my own marital situation was not resolved back in the States."
Shortly after their return from the pacific, David and Katherine talked about their fabulous journey- and their future together. It was a rare experience, perhaps the first time they had been interviewed together. But David seemed delighted to have Katherine join him. He was obviously very proud and extremely fond of her. They sat close together, shoulders touching.
David made one thing clear at the outset. When the interviewer referred to her as Kathy, he corrected: "Her name is Katherine. I have an abhorrence for diminutives. I wince every time someone calls her Kathy"
"It's an American custom to call everyone by their familiar names," said Katherine. "It's a sign of friendliness. But I would just as soon be called by my full name."
It is easy to see why David is entranced with her. Katherine Carpenter is startlingly beautiful, with a gamin face that seems small because of the profuse dark brown hair that cascades down to her slim shoulders. It is an expressive face with wide, full lips and an uptilted nose. She moves with a model's grace, but she doesn't have the emaciated look of most high fashion models.
"The trip? It was tremendous,"said David. But with all the crowds and press conferences, when did they have any time to be together?
"We were together all the time," David said. "Everything that happened we witnessed together, and we could share the experiences."
"That's what made it so worthwhile, the sharing," Katherine added. "David had been through all the crowd scenes before, but it was a new experience for me. Certainly there were times when we were pushed and crowded from all sides, and some people would have found it bothersome and even frightening. But because it was a mutual experience, we could talk about it and laugh over some of the things that happened."
"And, some fantastic things happened," said David. "For instance, we were in the Singapore airport making an unscheduled stop. I was tired, and I really didn't want to face the photographers and crowds again. But an MGM man said if I would get off the plane, I could address the crowd from a loudspeaker in a private reception room.
"The private reception turned out to be in the airport lobby., which was packed with hundreds of people. I was finally shoved into a corner and handed a public address microphone. I managed to get out a few words about how happy I was to be in Singapore, and wished I could stay longer.
"In the middle of the mob scene I heard a voice calling, 'David! David! Illya! Illya!' I looked all around and could see no one who was calling to me. I heard the voice again, and it seemed to be coming from under the floor. I looked down and saw an Oriental face smiling at me through the ventilator grille. A Chinese girl had apparently climbed through the air conditioning system to see me!"
Only once did they face real danger. That was in Hong Kong when they attended the premiere of the U.N.C.L.E. feature. The police force was inadequate for handling the crowd, and the clamoring Chinese moved in close to the stars.
"I was determined to protect Katherine," said David, "so I walked ahead to make a path through the mob. I was pushing on both sides until I noticed I was pushing Bob Vaughn with one arm, and Gene Webster with the other."
They finally made their way into the theater, but David knew it would be dangerous to face the milling throng on the way out. He asked about rear exits, and spirited Katherine out the back of the theater after the movie was over.
"We really couldn't complain about anything on the trip,"said David. "Even the inconveniences were endurable, because we shared them. For example, both of us are very fastidious persons; we dislike anything that isn't clean. "But when we stayed in a hotel that was something less than immaculate or dines in a not-so-clean restaurant, it didn't really bother us. Because we could talk about it together and make our own comments."
What about their future life together? David's answer is still the same-as the one he gave in the Orient: it would be foolish to make any statements until he is free to marry. Katherine admitted that her own plans were undecided.
"My home and my work is in New York right now," she said. "That is the only place where a model can earn good money., and I have been lucky to do well at it. But there is a question of how much longer I want to continue.
"I like to model. Some girls find it boring and unrewarding, but I find a great deal of satisfaction. You don't always have control over your work; a bad photographer can make it turn out poorly. You don't get immediate response from what you have done. It can be months before the photographs appear, and then people might comment, 'the dress turned out fine', ignoring the model.
"But, there is gratification in knowing that you do a professional job when you can pull off three sittings in a day and give the client the results he is looking for.
"Of course, I can't model forever. The span of a fashion model is short, and younger ones are coming along all the time. Now they're starting at 15 (she is 21). I've got to start thinking about what I want to do next.
"Acting? No, thank you. It doesn't appeal to me in the least. I want to do something that is more substantial, that has more continuity to it. I couldn't stand the uncertainty of being an actress.
"Live in California? I used to think I could never do it. When I first came out here, everyone was so blonde and tanned that I felt out of place. Bur now the California living is beginning to grow on me, and each time I return I am more impatient with the cold and crowdedness of New York."
It seems fairly obvious to those who meet them that David and Katherine would like to marry, although they seem willing to exercise patience until he is free. He admitted that they learned an important lesson on their trip East.
"We left the day after Christmas and came back right after New Year's," he remarked. "We got back to California, and Christmas trees were still up. That amazed us.
" 'Could it still be the Christmas season? We asked. We had been gone seven days, but it seemed like a month. The reason was that each day was filled with excitement and new experiences.
That seemed to point to a way of living your life: enjoy each day to the utmost. Then by the time you are 60, you will seem to have lived twice that long. That is, if you reach 60 under that system. But, even if you don't-think of all the fun you will have had!" -KURT MILLER