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'NCIS' Star David McCallum Was Trying to Get Famous When His Wife Fell for Well-Known Co-star

Ksenia Novikova
Jul 20, 2021
05:20 A.M.
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When David McCallum's "The Great Escape" co-star Charles Bronson stole his wife, he did what no other man would do. He forgave him because David believed that negativity was quite unnecessary.

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Having a friend steal one's wife away is something unforgivable. In fact, it is what would end a friendship and start a feud between two people. But when David McCallum experienced this betrayal, he did the exact opposite.

McCallum had a colorful career and personal life with challenges and triumphs along the way. Nevertheless, he remained humble and optimistic through it all.

One particular issue that plagued him was how his "The Great Escape" co-star Charles Bronson romanced and then married his then-wife, Jill Ireland, right out from under his nose. At that time, McCallum was new in the industry and building his credentials.

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David McCallum at the CBS, CW, Showtime Summer TCA Party held at Pacific Design Center on August 10, 2016 in West Hollywood, California. | Source: Getty Images

David McCallum at the CBS, CW, Showtime Summer TCA Party held at Pacific Design Center on August 10, 2016 in West Hollywood, California. | Source: Getty Images

STAYING FRIENDS WITH BRONSON

Ultimately, the actor did not harbor any ill feelings toward Bronson. While other people would automatically hate a friend who would do such a thing, the actor kept him close. When he finally opened up about it, McCallum said:

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"I find that when problems come along, worrying about them and getting anxious and negative is quite unnecessary. You can solve them, usually amicably. That's what happened."

Although he forgave Bronson and Ireland, he admitted that he had a hard time when their separation happened, as they had three children. In fact, when Bronson met Ireland, he allegedly told McCallum that he was going to marry her, but the actor has no recollection of that conversation ever happening.

Despite this controversial issue, the star still believes he's had quite an incredible life. At 88 years old, he claims he had many happy times despite the many challenges he's faced.

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David McCallum and Jill Ireland circa the 1960s | Source: Getty Images

David McCallum and Jill Ireland circa the 1960s | Source: Getty Images

ANOTHER TRAGEDY

Another painful experience McCallum endured was the death of his adopted son Jason due to an accidental overdose at just 27 years old in 1989. He said:

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"The worst moment of my life was when I lost my son. There's no question of that. Losing people you love are always the most terrible moments, especially when they're so young."

Admittedly, McCallum could never come to terms with Jason's passing and felt pain time and again. Alongside the pain came anger and frustration that he couldn't have done anything about it. "You just have to accept it," he said. Incidentally, Ireland passed away six months after Jason.

McCallum adopted Jason when he was still married to Ireland. Together, the couple had two other sons, Cal and Paul, both raised in California.

Charles Bronson and Jill Ireland in Nice, France | Source: Getty Images

Charles Bronson and Jill Ireland in Nice, France | Source: Getty Images

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HIS WIFE AND KIDS

After divorcing his first wife, he married interior designer and model Katherine Carpenter, and together they share two children, Peter and Sophie. McCallum first met Carpenter, who was 11 years his junior, during a New York photoshoot in 1965.

Aside from his appearances on "NCIS," he's taken a step back from his career to spend more time with his family.

In 1967, around the same time his divorce was finalized, McCallum proposed to Carpenter and tied the knot in a beautiful and intimate ceremony. He has since kept his personal life private and away from the spotlight.

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Aside from working in the entertainment industry, McCallum and Carpenter are active in charitable organizations that support the US Marine Corps. This passion for helping the marines sprung from his wife's father being a Marine and her brother losing his life in the Vietnam war.

Jill Ireland and David McCallum circa the 1960s | Source: Getty Images

Jill Ireland and David McCallum circa the 1960s | Source: Getty Images

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His marriage to Carpenter was quite unconventional as the pair lived in different states for work. McCallum resided in Los Angeles to film the series "NCIS" while his wife stayed in New York. He previously said:

"We've spent ten months of the year apart for the last 13 years. She is part of the oldest interior design firm in the US and works out of New York. We keep in constant touch [...]."

According to McCallum, the secret to his happy marriage is giving his partner what she needs in life and supporting her.

"My wife at this point would like to become two people -- one that would be here in California and out there in New York, and we both feel that way," he added. "We're reaching the point after 13 years that we should probably be thinking about getting together."

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MCCALLUM'S CAREER

McCallum is a Scottish-born actor most recognized for his role as Illya Kuryakin, a Russian spy, from the '60s series "U.N.C.L.E." Most recently, he took on the part of Chief Medical Examiner Donald "Ducky" Mallard in the hit police drama "NCIS" -- a role he has taken since 2003.

Besides being a staple on the crowd-favorite show, he published his first novel, "Once a Crooked Man," in 2016. Although he remains a fixture on American TV, his more notable roles were actually from the '60s to the '80s.

Despite this, he has proven his versatility with the fact that he still stars on one of the most-loved series of all time. After decades in the entertainment industry, McCallum's career has slowed down. Aside from his appearances on "NCIS," he's taken a step back from his career to spend more time with his family.

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