David McCallum is certainly different from the usual TV hero. "He's intelligent and cultured," says one of his more mature fans. "Look at how he took a TV show like Man From U.N.C.L.E., which is really little more than a comic strip spy spoof, and made it into something sparkling and scintillating.
"And how did he do it? By the sheer weight of his own inventive, imaginative, talent: he has style, that boy has!
What are the ingredients of the celebrated McCallum "style"? Well, it is a compelling synthesis of cool control, iron self-discipline, an acting gift honed by rigorous training into one of the finest talents of the younger generation of performers.
"David has style--and grace," says a TV executive who has watched McCallum produce his magical effects from behind the TV cameras. "He can handle situations that would look corny, campy, downright ridiculous in any other actor's hands, and can render them palatably stylish and--well, groovily brilliant is the phrase, I guess!"
David is noted for the dignity of his private life.
The recent divorce implications, linking Jill Ireland with Charles Bronson, have only strengthened his determination to safeguard his world away from cameras and gossip columnists.
David devours books on philosophy and psychology, ponders over what he has read, and digests meaningful passages thoroughly. "The miracle of David," says a friend who knows him well from their early days in England, "is that he profits from his reading as few people I know do. He memorizes passages that he considers particularly quotable, and recites them to his friends if he feels they apply to whatever problems the friends may have at the moment.
"And he is an amazingly deep thinker. He really believes that solitude encourages depth of thought. That is why he rarely mingles socially with the Hollywood crowd. About 90 percent of David's spare time goes to his studies, his wife and his children. First-things-first is one of David's chief mottos--and he doesn't talk the orderly life--he lives it!"
There have been reports that David is frankly distressed by the fan hysteria that surrounds him when he ventures into the outside world. When he went to Europe recently to make the film, The Venetian Affair, David was mobbed by fans at the airports, got his tie torn off, his clothes ripped. He arrived at his hotel looking like a cat that had been dunked in a bathtub.
"You could just see him--figuratively of course--shaking the water from his fur and arching his back in feline disgust," one friend laughs.
This does not mean that David is not grateful for the fan attention he has received. Of course he is. He is intelligent enough--and realistic enough--to know that the fans--including the obstreperous ones--have given him and his family all they have--and that they and their loyalty and support have made possible the leisure and money with which to pursue his musical and intellectual pursuits.
"Strangely enough, it is that very aura of intellectuality and reclusive ness that attracts his fans," says one associate. "They have never known anyone like him. In a way he recalls to older fans the Leslie Howards and Brian Ahernes of another day--they too, were gentle, intellectual, deeply cultured. But movie audiences were more mature and there was a place for stars of their caliber.
"Today, the younger generation who keep the movies in the chips with their box office support, tend to be almost anti-intellectual. Most of their idols are primitives like Presley, stars who appeal to the sensual immediacies. The only exception is David McCallum. He's--well--cerebral."
David himself feels the fans are growing up gradually. "They are starting to realize that a bookish, brainy chap can be mightily sexy. For too long they associated brains with glasses, a baggy suit and a stodgy gait," he says.
"I think the image I got across in Man From U.N.C.L.E.--and it is a good image--is that of a brainy, resourceful chap who triumphs over close calls and narrow escapes by an arresting combination of physical agility and razor-sharp reasoning. Impulsive, emotional heroes are all very well, but it's the thinkers, the cool-cat planners, who beat the raps. This image is sinking in with the young public, and it bodes will for the future."
And regarding his marital problems, David seems convinced that everything will work out. He and Jill are well aware of the impact of such a thing as divorce upon their children. Ever since they got married, having a family was one of their paramount considerations. it is doubtful that the happiness of same would be brushed aside casually, or without much deep, serious thought.
David McCallum the intellectual is also McCallum the husband and father who will fight to his last breath to keep his loved ones near him and to see that they do not face the terrible ordeal undergone by so many others in Hollywood.
Yes, David McCallum is different...in many ways!