Skip to main contentSkip to footer

NCIS star David McCallum's ex-wife was a famous actress – details

The actor met his first wife while filming Hell Drivers

David McCallum as Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard in NCIS
Megan Bull
Megan BullTV Writer
Share this:

During the early days of his career, NCIS star David McCallum landed a role in the crime flick, Hell Drivers (1957), and it was during this time that he met and fell in love with his future wife, the late Jill Ireland. Keep reading for all the details of their marriage...

WATCH: Meet the real-life partners of the cast of NCIS

Who is David McCallum's famous ex-wife Jill Ireland?

English actress and singer, Jill Ireland began her career in the 1950s with small roles in Simon and Laura (1955) and Three Men in a Boat (1956). A year later, she met David on the set of Hell Drivers, and they married in a ceremony in London. 

David McCallum and Jill Ireland attend the Emmy awards in Los Angeles,CA© Getty
David McCallum married English actress and singer Jill Ireland in 1957

Following their nuptials, Jill starred alongside David in several episodes of the hit TV show, The Man from U.N.C.L.E, as well as landing roles in Carry on Nurse, The Desperate Man and Jungle Street

During their ten-year marriage, the couple became parents to three sons: Paul, Valentine and Jason. Sadly, in 1989, it was announced that Jason had died of an accidental overdose. 

Jill and David eventually divorced in 1967 after a decade of marriage. The actress had decided to leave her former husband for his Great Escape co-star Charles Bronson, whom she had first met in 1963. 

British actor David McCallum and his wife, actress Jill Ireland (1936 - 1990) at a party for the film 'The Greatest Story Ever Told© Getty
The couple welcomed three sons during their marriage

During a 2017 interview with Daily Record, David reflected on this period in his life, explaining: "I never hated him, Charlie was always a good friend. 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."

Despite having an optimistic outlook on the situation, David admitted: "It was an extremely difficult time, not least because we had three children."

Following their split, David eventually found love with his wife of 56 years, Katherine Carpenter. They welcomed a son, Peter, and a daughter, Sophie. 

While David is typically tight-lipped about his personal life, on occasion he's talked about his marriage during interviews. Speaking to Closer Weekly in 2017, the TV star explained that he and Katherine are "two halves of a whole."

He added: "We work well together, and when problems come along, we solve them. The best thing about a marriage is you find out what the other person wants and make damned sure they get it."

MORE: Everything NCIS star David McCallum has said about his wife Katherine Carpenter

READ: NCIS star David McCallum's famous father revealed

Meanwhile, Jill and Charles were married from 1968, up until her death from breast cancer in 1990. Throughout their marriage, the Hollywood couple starred in 16 films together, and Jill also worked as a producer on two of Charles' movies. 

In the years leading up to her death, the actress had become a member of the American Cancer Society and was even given the American Cancer Society's Courage Award by President Ronald Reagan. After she passed away, Charles had her ashes put into a cane which he had buried with him, when he died in 2003. 

Want to keep up to date with the latest stories?Sign up to our HELLO! Newsletters today.

More TV and Film

See more