From Movie Stars, September, 1966
David McCallum is washed out. "I have never been more tired in my life" he said recently, and for the first time since he appeared on the scene, the ambition, the incredible confidence, were gone.
It is strange how a man can lose control over his own destiny. From the very first segment of NBC's The Man from U.N.C.L.E. last year, it was obvious how talented David McCallum was. He was billed as a subordinate, not as a star, but he quickly surpassed all expectations, perhaps even his own. A couple of years more on U.N.C.L.E., a few more MGM contract films, and before you know it, David McCallum would be a Hollywood super-star, commanding his own roles and his own salary. He's more than half done with these preliminaries right now. He's completed his second season on TV as well as his second picture for MGM (Three Bites of the Apple). Those who witnessed the shooting say the film is good, that David is superb. Then why does he say, "I seriously consider quitting. There are other things I can do besides acting"? Of course, there are other things he can do-if he wants to. He's a talented musician and his two record albums released recently have been selling like crazy. But he's always considered music a hobby, just a matter of pleasure. His parents, both professional musicians, wanted to train him for a musical career, and had him on a strict regimen of music lessons for a number of years. Yet he's often said. "I wanted to oblige them, but it was not to be." Because David wanted to be an actor, has been training himself for his current success since he was nine years old. He did child dialect roles on the BBC, attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, toured in repertory, played in British B-movies.
For the first time in his career, he now has enough money to live on. He never used to hesitate to say how very worthwhile the struggle had been-for look where it had gotten him. A man who has been driven towards one goal all his life doesn't all-of-a-sudden change his mind when he has his first foothold on his dream. There must be something more behind this simple battle-fatigue. When asked to explain why he considers quitting his career, he double-talks about privacy and all that. He's never hidden the fact that he dislikes (hates is a better word) the mayhem caused whenever he appears in public. And that is why you will never see David in a personal appearance again. For he has decided-irrevocably-that he will make no more of them. "Why should I continue to run the risk of seeing people maimed and injured, including me?" He asks testily. However, giving up making personal appearances needn't mean giving up his career. Look at Elvis Presley. He hasn't made a public appearance in years and it certainly hasn't hurt him. And he never considered giving up acting.
No, we won't accept that explanation from David. He's leaving something out, and he may not even realize it himself. The truth is, he's encountered his first stumbling block-and he's running scared. Perhaps David never prepared himself for success and it's deleterious effects. Maybe he's been dreaming so long about the peaches and cream life he'd lead once he made it to the top that he never once prepared for the very common consequence of "making it" in Hollywood-divorce.
When David left Hollywood for location filming in England, he did not know he would come back to an empty house. A lot of other people had a strong suspicion, though. Ever since David's wife Jill opened an art gallery with actor Charles Bronson it was obvious they were more than just "friends." Besides the fact that Jill had never spent so much time away from the home before (she had mostly given up her career to be David's wife and mother of his children), all her free hours were spent with Bronson. And then when she announced her plans to resume her career full time in Shane for the fall TV season, it was plain what was going on. Plain to everyone except David. But now he knows.
Is this enough of a reason for a man to give up a lifetime of work? For David, yes. He is a man of intense emotions-he lives by them, revels in them, although he rarely shows them. When he hates, he hates deeply-and it lasts for life. And when he loves, it isn't a matter of well, today I love you, but tomorrow who knows . He is incapable of fleeting romances, half-heart feelings. At the age of 32, he has been in love only once in his life-with the girl he married. From the first moment he met her seven years ago, he knew exactly what he felt for her-and he married her within days. Jill loved him, too-or why would she have married him on such short notice? But Jill isn't the same kind of person David is. She may do thing on impulse the way he does, but she doesn't expect them to last forever. She wed him suddenly, bore three children for him, catered to him, and gave up her career. Obviously, her content with that sort of existence diminished, and perhaps in another impulsive gesture, she fell in love again.
Unfortunately, David never even considered the possibility that Jill could love another man; perhaps he took her too much for granted. It is possible he didn't see her slowly becoming uncomfortable with their isolated, secluded life. He might have been able to handle the problems if he'd known they were there, but now there is no question that it is too late. And this sudden hopeless realization is too much for him to bear. David can't take loneliness, can't function without someone behind the scenes caring, needing. The bleak future that faces David now is that he will probably never again fall in love.
So he takes the easy way out and runs away from the only other thing, which makes him happy-his acting. Of course he would find out soon enough that, that was no solution-but by that time he would have nowhere else to turn.
David hasn't made the fateful decision yet, but from the way he talks, it's all too close for comfort. Temporarily, he has decided that "all outside activities must be eliminated-everything." He's going to cut himself off from the world, become a hermit for, we hope, just a while. There is the chance, though, that he will never, never return, that you will never see David McCallum again. For as he says "There comes a time when I have to draw the line. It is a matter of survival."