David McCallum’s first wife Jill Ireland married his ‘close friend’ after their whirlwind romance ended

British actor David McCallum’s death at 90 has left fans heartbroken and some are looking back at the Great Escape star’s relationship with first wife Jill Ireland amid the news of his demise.

The Scottish-born character actor was best known for playing Russian spy Illya Kuryakin on The Man From U.N.C.L.E. in the 1960s. His TV fame only grew further with his role in N.C.I.S. The star died on Monday at age 90 in New York. Besides his professional success, David also had a big family. He was married twice and had five children from his two marriages. We take a look at David McCallum’s relationship with his ex-wife Jill Ireland.

David McCallum and Jill Ireland
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Who was David McCallum’s first wife Jill Ireland?

David was married to his first wife Jill for ten years between 1957 to 1967. Like David, Jill was an actor as well as a singer. The beauty was born in London in 1936 and died in 1990.

When David and Jill first tied the knot Jill was already an established actress. She starred in projects like There’s Always a Thursday (1957), Three Men in a Boat (1956), and more. David on the other hand was a fresh actor who was still in the early stages of his career.

During their marriage, the pair had three children Paul, Jason, and Val McCallum. In 1967, David announced their separation in a public statement that left fans shocked.

David And Jill
Photo by Archive Photos/Getty Images

A look at the pair’s marriage and its end

The pair tied the knot in 1957 when Jill was 21 and David was 24. A report in Motion Picture Magazine’s 1967 issue (via David McCallum Fans Online) reveals the pair had a whirlwind wedding. The report says that David and Jill spent time together for a week following her birthday party.

“They worked together by day and dated by night,” it says. David popped the question during that week and by the end of the week, they were already married. Jill began to “sublimate” her own career despite her fame to support David’s acting career after their marriage. “Jill’s own career became secondary. But it was a sacrifice she made freely and happily,” the report says.

Fourth months after their marriage, Jill became pregnant with their eldest son Paul. However, the couple had to spend more and more time apart due to David’s work commitments. The pair moved to America in 1962 after David’s Hollywood career took off. However, as their family grew, David’s work kept him more and more busy. When the pair was expecting their third child David landed the part of Illya Kuryakin in a proposed series called The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

To fill her time, Jill who painted in her free time started her own art gallery. Her business partner was none other than David’s The Great Escape co-star Charles Bronson. The distance between them grew both physically and emotionally. The pair finally announced their separation in 1967.

Charles Bronson And Jill Ireland
Photo by Bob Aylott/Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Jill Ireland married Charles Bronson a year after divorce from David

A year after her divorce from David, Jill tied the knot with American actor Charles Bronson. The pair were married for 22 years until Jill’s death in 1990. They also had two children during the course of their marriage – Katrina Holden Bronson (55) and Zuleika Bronson.

David, on the other hand, married Katherine Carpenter the same year as his divorce. The couple was married for 56 years until David’s death in 2023.

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