David McCallum is I.L.L.Y.A. of “U.N.C.L.E.” He was initially described as little more than a Russian sidekick to Napoleon Solo.
He took the character Illya Kuryakin and made him vaguely European with a mystic quality. He even designed the distinctive black turtle-neck sweater and the black pants. He is earnest and determined. He knows just what he wants.
He was born Sept. 19, 1934, in Glasgow, Scotland. He is the second son of David McCallum, lead violinist of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and Dorothy McCallum, a cellist. (“My parents met in the orchestra pit of a theater where they once placed for silent movies.”)
He played the oboe before becoming an actor at 14. He wasn’t exactly an actor. (“I started working in a British theater as an electrician. It was many years before I got to act.”)
He is not afraid to speak out for what he believes. He is 5-foot-8, weights 140 pounds, has light brown eyes and dark blond hair. He is more muscular than he appears.
He came to Hollywood, after a number of English stage and film roles, to play Judas in George Stevens’ “The Greatest Story Ever Told.” He stayed. (“I played TV. Numerous roles on numerous shows.”) He was a loner two years ago. (“I couldn’t get myself arrested.”)
He has changed with instant success. He has changed for the better. His exposure to American life as well as new friends and crowds numbering in the thousands has done wonders for him. .He is now warm, open, gregarious.
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He comes on the set knowing his lines, eager to work. As one director put it: “He has an uncanny way for making the ordinary seem extraordinary.” He and Robert Vaughn are not feuding. This is written in the present tense.
He still possesses much of his English upbringing: Tea, marmalade and lamb. He likes to cook. His specialty is Indian curry. He is a big eater. (“I will eat anything that doesn’t move on my plate.”) He is self reliant and naïve.
He is married (1957) to English actress Jill Ireland. They have three sons: Paul, Jason and Valentine. He takes great care in the upbringing of his children. (“You can’t be subtle in loving a child. You must demonstrate your love in a physical way.”)
He and wife and sons make their home in the hills above Hollywood. They reside in a rambling, four-story, 10-room Spanish house. His home is his castle.
He takes refuge there. (“I have never allowed my three sons to be photographed. Not even Gregory, the family Basset.”)
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He is the gracious host. His idea of a good evening is to invite a few intimate friends to the house for a dinner party including candlelight, wine and conversation.
He can dance but rarely does. (“I enjoy conversation more.”) He is also a good listener.
He has given up his Jaguar sedan for a blue American convertible.
He dresses casually off-screen preferring cords, pullover sweaters, moccasins or bare feet.
He sleeps in an extra large bed. He occasionally wears pajamas but more often sleeps bare. He believes this is part of his Americanization.
He is guided in all endeavors by this secret: (“I have learned never to go beyond my capability.”)