16 Magazine, August 1965
by Gloria Stavers
At home, David-Illya is a lot different from the way he comes into your living-room on your TV screen -- but there are little resemblances, too!
WHEN SECRET AGENT Illya Kuryakin finishes a hard day's work of righting wrongs, blowing up bridges and wiping out the enemy from THRUSH -- he rips off his black turtleneck sweater, puts on a sports shirt, dashes towards home and becomes WHAT?
Finding out about the secret life of David McCallum is about as difficult as it is to get the "secrets" out of Illya -- for, in reality, David McCallum is very much like Illya Kuryakin. The fact is, Illya is an off-shoot of David. Here is how it all happened.
When the pilot film of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. was made, there was no Illya. He came as an afterthought and was to appear once in the second segment of the series. That once was to show him as a subsidiary character, not important to the plot of the show. However, producer Sam Rolfe saw "something" in Illya and decided to let him appear in the series from time to time. David, of course, was cast in the part.
"I couldn't quite get with Illya, at first," David recalls. "He wore a tie and was rather a conventional secret agent type. When I found out that I was to do him again, I decided to evolve his character into something real and exciting -- if I could."
Being a natural (though well-trained) actor, David discovered himself endowing Illya with a lot of his own personal traits.
"It took me about five months to create the whole person I saw Illya to be," David says, "and during those five months I kept adding more and more of my real self to him. For instance, in my private life I have only a few really close friends. I can number them on one hand. Illya is the same way. I trust no one until I have learned for sure they can be trusted, and then I still don't count on them all the time. Illya is the same way."
Of course, Illya did need a flair -- a little style to make him captivating and interesting -- so David conceived of the black sweater. Black is a mysterious color. It matches Illya's personality. It also matches David's personality.
But what is David like when he does go home? True, a bit of Illya is always there, but David's private life is quite different from life on the U.N.C.L.E. series.
David and his beautiful wife, actress Jill Ireland, live in a very big 30-year-old, thick-walled, white, Spanish-type stucco house high in the Hollywood Hills. They have three lovely sons, Paul, Jason, and Valentine. When you enter the McCallum residence (which is very had to find!), you pass through a large black wrought-iron gate and walk across red-tile flooring into the main living room. Here you might find Jean, the children's "nanny," playing with her charges or reading to them. David has not allowed his children to be photographed (or his home to be) because of his deep desire for normal privacy. He is willing to give of himself and his art to the world, but draws the line when it comes to his home and family.
Jill Ireland McCallum is first a mother and second an actress. She has done several roles on U.N.C.L.E. and may become a regular on the show next season. She has beautiful skin, her hair is a little bit more "golden" than David's and she usually has a great suntan. David describes her as having "...a kooky, delightful sort of Kay Kendall sense of humor."
Jill, who was formerly a ballet dancer, doesn't worry about working. If she gets "itchy," she does a role on some show -- and gets it out of her system for a while. She likes most to work with her husband, natch!
Though David and Jill are very close, they have diverse and absorbing interests. Jill is a marvelous painter. Right now she is most proud of the oil portrait she did of "Gregory" (named after Gregory Peck), the McCallum family's Basset hound.
David's "hobby" is a strange one. He loves going out for long, long walks in the middle of the night. He may go to the "Bowery" section of Los Angeles to observe the real-life characters who hang out there, or he may go for a lonely walk down a deserted beach for miles and miles. He also loves foreign films, and never misses a good one when it is around.
However, weekends in the McCallum home are strictly reserved for the children. Each weekend finds the family packing up for a picnic, an outing at an amusement park or a day at the beach.
The secret life of David McCallum is full of thought, too. In fact, so full that David sometimes wishes he could turn his "thinking machine" off! He does with as little as four hours sleep a night, and the rest of his "sleep time" is used thinking up original ideas for roles, writing or just anything that he may be able to create. His mind never stops, and those who are close to him say they can almost see the wheels turning!
One of David's pet peeves -- or more strongly, intense dislikes -- is the type of fan magazine that distorts what he says and prints glaring, untruthful cover titles. He will not see the writers of these books or even give them the time of day.
Lucky for you and me -- David says that one of his favorite magazines is 16. Why? Because "...it is clean and it prints the truth." Thanks, Mr. McC. We'll keep up the good work!