Charles Bronson has been a major figure on and off screen in The Magnificent Seven to Death Wish movies, which are back on TV this weekend. He may have only been 5’9, but he was physically strong and muscular, and he brought a commanding, powerful presence to everything he did. He was known for being taciturn with his peers and a positive fighter with the press. But even by his standards, telling his The Great Escape co-star David McCallum, “I’m going to take your wife,” was a bit extreme — and yet he ends up doing exactly that.
The Great Escape had an unusual and large cast including Steve McQueen, Richard Attenborough, Donald Pleasance and James Cogburn. When McCallum’s wife, actress Jill Ireland, came to visit the set, she caught Bronson’s attention.
In 1962, the couple had been married for six years and had three sons. McCallum had only been catapulted to stardom by 1964’s The Man From UNCLE. Meanwhile, Bronson is married to aspiring actress Harriet Tendler, and they have two children.
Within a few years, the marriage would end and Bronson’s indomitable prediction would come true.
Bronson’s marriage ended in 1965, and Ireland’s in 1967. They married the following year.
“It was a very difficult period, not least because we had three children,” McCallum later said.
However, he also added that he never bred a grudge against either of them: “I never hated him, Charlie was always a good friend. I find that when problems come, worrying about them, worrying and being negative is completely unnecessary. You can work it out, usually amicably. That’s what happened.” “.
McCallum went on to tie the knot with Katherine Carpenter and they have two children together and remain happily married to this day.
Bronson and Ireland also forged a strong bond. As his career soared in the 1970s, they lived in a lavish mansion in Bel Air with their seven children combined—two his and three from previous marriages, and two more together.
They were also frequently seen on screen, preferring to work together so the whole family could work together collectively.
Bronson and Ireland have starred in 16 films together, including the 1982 sequel Death Wish. She worked less as the decade progressed, after being diagnosed with cancer in 1984. Instead, she became a powerful author and advocate for cancer treatment and care, and was awarded the American Cancer Society’s Courage Award by President Ronald Reagan.
She lost her battle with breast cancer in 1990. Bronson married actress Kim Wicks in 1998 but placed Ireland’s ashes in a cane, and had her buried with him when he died on August 30, 2003.