David McCallum has died

Many people remember him most from his role as Illya Kuryakin in the ‘The Man from Uncle’ but when I think of him it is ‘The Great Escape’ that I associate him with the most.

ABOVE – In the role of Ashley Pitt ‘The Great Escape’

I have read that David McCallum received more fan letters than any star MGM had ever had. I find that astonishing and, if I am honest, very surprising but it must be very good for his family, at this sad time, to know what a big star he was – I expect they already know that though.

About 30 years ago, the Irish Tenor Josef Locke was the subject of ‘This is your Life’. Just before this, a new film had been released based on his life – the film was ‘Hear My Song’. In the programme David McCallum who had a leading part in the film came on as a guest and reminded Josef Locke, that his father, David McCallum Snr a leading orchestral violinist, had in fact played on many of his original recordings including ‘Galway Bay’ and ‘Hear My Song’

Josef Locke remembered David’s father very well and spoke highly of him – something that affected David McCallum, as we could all see

ABOVE – David McCallum and his father

David McCallum Snr

In 1922, David McCallum Snr broadcast as a solo violinist for the first time. Between 1932 and 1936, he led the Scottish Orchestra in Glasgow under John Barbirolli, then was asked by Sir Thomas Beecham to lead the London Philharmonic Orchestra  so when the young David was three years old the family moved to London

During World War II, David McCallum Snr led the National Symphony Orchestra

After the war, he rejoined Beecham, this time as leader of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

He had several small roles in films. His hands are seen playing the violin for Stewart Granger in an uncredited role in The Magic Bow (1946). He played the blind fiddler in the film Last Holiday (1950), which starred Alec Guinness.[2] He also appeared as himself in “Prelude to Fame“.

“Father was unique in that his hands were really the centre of his life, and keeping his hands safe and in perfect condition was paramount. I’ve never said that to anyone before, but that is the way that I remember him. He would practice his violin incessantly, so we had the sound of the music throughout the house all the time.” 

David added: “As a child, I would go with him down to the studios where Jascha Heifetz was recording Brahms. I remember Heifetz’s G string broke while playing a cadenza, and he handed it to me. And conductor Thomas Beecham, when he was recording The Damnation of Faust, which has that wonderful opening, ending in a huge crescendo. He stopped the whole orchestra and turned to me in the front row, all alone in this huge place, and whispered: ‘Let’s do it again!'”

Back to David McCallum the film actor who died a few days ago :-

He had been called up into the forces in 1951 and served two years, including 10 months in what is now Ghana as a small-arms expert. Not long after his discharge, he signed with the Rank Organisation, and began acting in both films and on television.

He then appeared in small parts in such films as ‘These Dangerous Years’ with Frankie Vaughan, ‘Hell Drivers’, ‘Robbery Under Arms’, ‘Violent Playground’ and that early and excellent Titanic film ‘A Night to Remember’, He was also in Armchair Theatre productions and many others for Television

He met Jill Ireland, already a rising actress in Britain, when they were both cast in the Rank production “Robbery Under Arms” in 1957. He proposed seven days after they met, and they married that spring. In 1961, when he was cast as Judas Iscariot in “The Greatest Story Ever Told” (the film would released until 1965). The couple moved to Los Angeles.

They were doing well -they had three children. She became a busy TV actress and made several guest appearances on “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.,” playing three different characters.

However the strain of David’s stardom took a toll on their marriage, and she left him for the actor Charles Bronson, whom she had met when David and Charles Bronson were both filming “The Great Escape” (1963) in Germany.

Less than a year after their divorce in 1967, Mr. McCallum married Katherine Carpenter, a model.

She survives him, along with their children, Peter and Sophie McCallum; two sons from his first marriage, Paul and Valentine; and eight grandchildren. A third son from his first marriage, Jason, died of a drug overdose in 1989.

David McCallum and his wife lived in Manhattan.

BELOW – A later and well remembered series ‘Sapphire and Steel’ with Joanna Lumley

posted by Movieman in Uncategorized and have No Comments

Place your comment

Please fill your data and comment below.
Your comment