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David McCallum

Son of a concert violinist father and cellist-playing mother, who, incidentally were also members of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, McCALLUM (born 19 September 1933, Glasgow, Scotland) aspired to following in his parents’ footsteps after time served in the Royal West African Frontier Force. In complete contrast to his grandiose intentions, David joined RADA to study acting and, by 1957, had entered the glitzy showbiz world of movies. Starring roles duly arrived thick and fast for the debonair, fair-haired brainbox and through late 50s British-made films, Robbery Under Arms, Violent Playground, A Night To Remember, The Secret Place and Hell Drivers, the young man established himself very quickly.
The early 60s were equally fruitful; The Long And The Short And The Tall and Freud (in which he played a post-“Psycho” mother-obsessed mental patient!), led him to be picked for the all-star classic war movie, The Great Escape, in 1963. Having worked for American television on several Outer Limits episodes, McCALLUM progressed to being the Russian secret-agent, Ilya Kuryakin (alongside Robert Vaughn) in the long-running cult TV series, The Man From U.N.C.L.E..
It was during this spell between 1964 and 1967, that David took the opportunity to try his hand at conducting, emerging for Capitol Records studio early 1966 with an LP, MUSIC: A PART OF ME {*6}. Surprisingly enough, his classical interpretations of such standards as `Yesterday’, `I Can’t Get No Satisfaction’ and `Downtown’, were cool and calm enough to reach the US Top 30. And who could forget his narrative, flower-power pre-Bill Shatner Brit hit, `Communication’ – as in the time-warp world of Austin Powers: “groovy ba-by!”.
Almost identical in formulaic approach and hot on the heels of the LP was another US Top 100 breaker: MUSIC: A BIT MORE OF ME (1966) {*5}, while the man sang opposite the beautiful NANCY SINATRA on one of the U.N.C.L.E. TV episodes (he was also married to actress Jill Ireland at the time, but re-married in ‘67 to Katherine Carpenter).
It was inevitable that the Caledonian teenage pin-up would be typecast as a spy and many suchlike made-for-TV roles in The Spy With My Face, One Spy Too Many, and One Of Our Spies Is Missing, came his way. In 1967, he composed, acted and starred in the film, Three Bites Of The Apple, although the critics were not forthcoming with their praise. Jazz-pop albums such as MUSIC: IT’S HAPPENING NOW! (1967) {*4} and McCALLUM (1967) {*4} made for a prolific artist, but by now, only America was granted listening power.
By the late 60s, McCALLUM wanted a new challenge and put aside his musical aspirations to concentrate on serious acting, his most memorable roles coming in the shape of the excellent UK TV series, Colditz (in 1971), Frankenstein: The True Story (movie in ‘73) and The Invisible Man (1975). For the next two decades or so, “The Man From G.L.A.S.G.O.W.”, was hardly ever away from appearing on our TV sets, further work included The Watcher In The Woods, Behind Enemy Lines, Hear My Song (concerning singer Josef Locke) and the more diverse Cherry (1999). Three years earlier, cult Creation label off-shoot, Rev-Ola, opened up old musical wounds by releasing his OPEN CHANNEL D (1996) {*6} CD – a combination of his first two LPs. Still hard at work in the US of A, David has acted in a plethora of TV dramas; The Replacements and NCIS are probably his most memorable.
© MC Strong 2002/GSM // rev-up MCS Nov2015

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