David McCallum is in a rare decades-long Hollywood marriage with wife Katherine Carpenter. But did you know that the NCIS star was already married to another woman for ten years first?
McCallum was first married to the late Jill Ireland in London in the year 1957. Eventually, he lost his first wife to her then-costar, Charles Brosnan, who married and remained with Ireland until her death.
McCallum only ever expressed support for his former wife and Brosnan, going so far as to say he was happy that the two found each other. It was not long after his divorce to Ireland that he found a more permanent love with Katherine Carpenter.
Even today, McCallum often shares images of Carpenter on social media to illustrate their 55 years of devotion. One post, in particular, seemed to resonate with fans.
The post shows the couple in side-by-side on the day they first met (pictured in black and white) and a far more recent image in the same spot. In the caption, McCallum wrote:
“What a wonderful warm welcome to Facebook! Many Thanks! These photographs are fifty years apart. The left is the day Katherine and I met. The right is last week at the same spot. The Flatiron Building in the background houses the Publishers of my new novel “Once a Crooked Man”. What a pleasure!”
At the time that the first photo was taken, David McCallum was starring in the beloved “Man from U.N.C.L.E.” and was already a television icon. In 1965, while participating in a photo shoot for the show, McCallum and Carpenter met for the first time, and – despite their 11-year age difference – the two instantly fell for one another.
Carpenter herself was an actress and model at the time of their meeting, and she has spent the past decades aiding her husband in his philanthropy and raising their family, including their two children, Sophie and Peter, and McCallum’s children from his first marriage.
Back at the start of their relationship in 1965, the pair did not have full support from the general public. McCallum was not yet fully divorced from his first wife and many were concerned for Ireland and McCallum’s three children.
The divorce between McCallum and Ireland was finalized in 1967 and helped to quiet some of the critics. The NCIS star was finally able to propose to his now long-term wife.
The two had a quiet, intimate wedding just a few months later and have led a quiet life with their family ever since. While it is clear they have lived happily throughout this time, they have taken great care to live under the radar and to keep their children out of the spotlight.
Some moments that have given the public a glimpse into their lives have included the couple’s philanthropy with the US Marine Corps, which has included a variety of related events and even a Semper Fidelis Award.
Further glimpses can be found in McCallum’s social media posts and captions. For their 50 th wedding anniversary, for example, McCallum posted the below photo of Carpenter and him dressed formally and in style for a dinner and music date that he describes in his caption.
Funnily enough, the clearly successful marriage has been marked by some uniqueness. For 13 years of their marriage, they used to spend ten months out of the year apart from one another.
The couple was quoted as saying, “We’ve spent ten months of the year apart for the last 13 years… We keep in constant touch, and there are all these vacations in America, like Thanksgiving, when we are together. And the cellphones.”
In the same interview, McCallum went on to explain that their marriage has only been so successful because they have always communicated and given each other the things they’ve wanted. He continued, saying:
”My wife, at this point, would like to become two people – one that would be here in California and one there in New York, and we both feel that way. We’re reaching the point after 13 years that we should probably think about getting together.”
Despite the length of time the couple spent apart, they could still maintain a happy and healthy relationship. And they seem to be very happy together. When Don Bellisario, the man who created NCIS, celebrated his 80th birthday in Montecito, David and Katherine danced for hours and showed their true love for each other.
”They had a very ‘Big Band’ that played all the 1940’s classics. Katherine and I danced for hours!,” David wrote on Facebook.
As they grew older, they made the choice to try to travel less in order to focus on their family. David has four children in Val McCallum, Sophie McCallum, Paul McCallum, and Peter McCallum.
Both Val and Sophie are from his first marriage to British film and television actress Jill Ireland, whom he was married to for ten years between 1957 and 1967.
David also had a fifth child, Jason McCallum, who tragically passed away aged just 27 in November 1989.
“You never come to terms with the death of a child,” McCallum said. “The pain is very real, but it’s like an ache that turns into anger.
“At the same time, there’s a frustration that you couldn’t really have done anything about it, which makes it even worse. In the final analysis, he had the life he had. You just have to accept it.”
Their children have given the pair eight grandchildren in total, and they have been thankful to have the time to build their relationships with them.
Some of his grandchildren are really the spitting image of him.
Now that his career has slowed down, McCallum has really spent the effort to find time to spend with his grandchildren, children, and beautiful wife of 55 years.
David McCallum is a real family man. And in fact, he doesn’t feel as old as he is.
“They call me grand-daddy, the 88-year-old said in 2016. “We don’t like grandpa, because it sounds old – and I’m not old. And some of them have the cheek to call me grand-ducky.”
David McCallum has been a star his whole career. But even though he’s now a titan in the world of celebrities, the Scottish actor has always kept his feet on the ground and formed a wonderful family and legacy.
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