When David McCallum and his wife, Jill Ireland, arrived in Hollywood, they had never felt so alone in their lives. The slick, shiny front that the city presented was completely alien to a shy introvert like David.
When he was working on "The Greatest Story Ever Told", he didn't notice so much. But when the long months of filming were over, Hollywood didn't want to know. David had been out of circulation for too long.
David moved over to the small screen until more film breaks came along. He made appearances in "Perry Mason", "The Travels of Jamie McPheeters" and "Profiles in Courage," but didn't see his future in television.
Watching "Profiles in Courage" was a man casting around for a star for a new series called "The Man From UNCLE" for television. Realising that David was his man he moved in. And much to his surprise, David McCallum found himself the idol of young ladies everywhere. And, again to his surprise, liked it. The letters started puring in at the rate of 5,000 per week, and David and Jill settled in Hollywood for good.
"I somehow felt that America would be a happy place for them," says David's mother. "They are both very 'with it.' Especially Jill. She's not only a very lively and lovely and intelligent girl, but she is very 'with it.' In fact, it was Jill who first introduced me to that expression!"
The "with it" Mrs. Jill McCallum and her Mister live in a ten-roomed Spanish villa in the Hollywood Hills. They have three children, Paul 7, Jason 2, and the baby, Valentina (sic), just over a year old. They live well, but could hardly be accused of extravagance. They are very unwilling to open the door to the press.
"My home is my one sure refuge," says David. "I think that if I ever let my private life become public I would soon have to driven off in a little van."
The price of fame is such that David and his family have less and less privacy as the popularity of UNCLE increases.
"The show did not start off as a terrific success," he admits. "For four months we used to arrive at the studio not really knowing whether the series would last for the whole season. But suddenly it all happened. High-school students came home for the Christmas holidays and saw the show perhaps for the first time. They liked it, talked about it, and suddenly we were a success."
The suave charm of Robert Vaughn's Napoleon Solo had much to do with UNCLE's appeal, but it was Illya Kuryakin who really captured the viewers. Especially girl viewers.
"Like many of them, he is a loner," says David. "He is what I call a quiet 'swinger.' Nobody knows quite what he's like. No one really knows what he does when he goes home at night. When he takes time off from his job to go out with a girl in "The Spy With My Face" film everybody is a bit surprised.
"I thought a lot about Illya and decided there should be an air of mystery about him. I worked out a dream world for him. A private life. I developed his accent, the way he dresses, talks, thinks, and it is quite remarkable how real he has become to so many people. But he really isn't ME."
The ME, the real McCallum, is a very gentle, very courteous, very ordinary man for such an extraordinary role in life. He plays with his children in the garden, takes his family for picnics, drives them down to the beach. He photographs his family a lot. He's always re-decorating.
In the evenings, he and Jil often sit listening to Mozart...just as they did when they were honeymooners. But many evenings are spent working on the next day's script.
"That's typical of David," says Jill. "When he is working, nothing gets in the way of it. When he is playing with the family, then work is temporarily forgotten."
Jill is careful not to disturb David when he is puzzled over some angle of his work. He retires into a shell, and there's no dragging him out of it.
David takes his work very seriously, and hopes to combine acting and directing some day. Meanwhile, the Illya cult mounts. The Illya cut is copied by America's college students. Personal appearances get completely out-of-hand. David opened the annual Pet Parade at an American town called Le Grange recently and was mobbed by 100,000 girls. he was Master of Ceremonies when President Johnson held a big luncheon to honour the nation's top scholars.
The shy Scot has become part and parcel of the ballyhoo of Hollywood. Has it changed him? Clive Donner, director of "What's New, Pussycat?" and the man who "discovered" David eight years ago, saw him recently in Hollywood:
"David looked great. He obviously isn't at all spoiled or affected by Hollywood. We met for a malted at the Beverly Wilshire Drug Store and when a waitress asked for his autograph he gave it in the gentle, courteous way I remember so well.
"He has a curious sort of Celtic quality...slightly whimsical personality. he never tells jokes, but he looks at life in a very dry, warmly-humorous way.
"I asked him how he felt about Hollywood, and he said he loves it. It's good for Jill and the children, and he loves the work."
David will go on loving his work and chasing THRUSH agents for a while yet. He's just completed another UNCLE full-length film. He has another film coming out called "Around The World Under The Sea" which features him as an electronic scientist called Phil Volker, who ends up trapped in a huge underwater earthquake. It's all very seat-edge stuff.
Life is exciting for David McCallum. But although this brings us to the end of the David McCallum Story for now, it's a story that has quite a few more chapters to go, because David adds to it all the time.
It could very will be an epic.