Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Born On This Day- September 19th... David McCallum

Little 10 year old Stephen was glued to the TV set on Thursday nights. The Man From U.N.C.L.E was my favorite show, & although it had been developed as a vehicle for Robert Vaughn, little future gay boys & teenage girls were in the thrall of David McCallum as secret agent Illya Kuryakin. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was broadcast 1964 -1968. The series followed the exploits of 2 secret agents, played by Robert Vaughn & David McCallum, who work for a fictitious secret international law enforcement agency called U.N.C.L.E. (United Network Command for Law Enforcement). Their nemesis organization was THRUSH, an acronym for Technological Hierarchy for the Removal of Undesirables & the Subjugation of Humanity.

James Bond creator Ian Fleming contributed to the show's creation. Fleming's TV concept had 2 characters: Napoleon Solo & April Dancer. ("Mr. Solo" was originally the name of a crime boss in Fleming's Goldfinger.) Robert Towne (ShampooChinatown, Bonnie& Clyde) wrote scripts for the series, which was originally to have been titled Ian Fleming’s Solo. Solo was originally slated to be the "solo" star of the series, the only "Man". But a minor walk-on by a Russian agent named Illya Kuryakin caught fire with the fans, & the duo were permanently paired. During the run of the show, another series- The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. was introduced with Stephanie Powers as April Dancer & Noel Harrison (son of Rex Harrison). It lasted 1 season.

David McCallum went on to other series as a regular & guest star. He has done films & theatre. When I had my young crush on him, I also bought his albums. Many TV stars put out pop albums during the 1960s & 1970s, but McCallum was actually a fine jazz musician. His father was Orchestra Leader (first chair violin) for the London Symphony Orchestra. The frequently sampled 1966 David McCallum/David Axelrod instrumental The Edge took me by surprise on re-listening recently. Really good stuff. The Edge is a favorite sample source for hip-hop beatmakers. The most famous tune that's sampled The Edge is Dr. Dre's infectious The Next Episode.

David McCallum was fine fodder for young Stephen’s fantasies. I even had an IIya Kuryakin lunchbox. McCallum continues to work in TV (NCIS & Law & Order, Sex & The City) & looks to me to be a fine looking gentleman in his 70s. I think that I still have that crush.


  1. I remembered the name but did not know what THRUSH stood for. I have to say I was equally infatuated with both. In those days there was something exotic about Ilya being Russian; and a good guy; however.

  2. Oh yes, I remember it well. I always had a thing for the blondes, Troy, Tab, David Soul. And bless his heart, he still can't get a good hair cut it appears.


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