Blessed with a surplus amount of beauty and true acting talent, Jill Ireland was an English actress who made the wold fall in love with her craft and whose name will continue to live on as an icon of the acting industry. The actress took part in several works across both English film productions and American productions which shot her to stardom.
Apart from her work in the make-believe world, Jill Ireland also made several headlines during her lifetime for her tireless work as a member of the American Cancer Society and for being the voice for cancer patients having been struck by the disease herself. The life of Jill Ireland is an inspiration for many people today but do you know how the woman kick-started her career and the numerous works she did onscreen?
How Acting Began For Jill Ireland
Born on the 24th of April, 1936 in London, England, Jill Ireland is today known as someone who gave everything to carve out a successful acting career for herself, however, what many may not know is that she did not begin her career in the entertainment industry as an actress; she was first a dancer.
Our findings show that Jill Ireland was born to a wine merchant however, she never had any intentions of following in his footstep as she had her own plans to entertain people. She, therefore, decided to train to become a professional dancer.
Jill eventually performed for the first time as a dancer when she was 15 years old. She was in love with dancing and spent time entertaining people with her craft.
‘Roll Camera, Action!’
After dancing professionally for some time, Jill Ireland finally got her first taste of life in front of a camera as an actress in 1955 when she was cast to play a dancer in Oh… Rosalinda!, a musical comedy film. The same year, she appeared in No Love for Judy, a comedy film, The Woman for Joe, a romance film and Simon and Laura, another comedy. These early roles helped give her the needed experiences to grow into a much bigger star.
In the following years, she made more appearances in other movies and TV series, gaining some attention with her raw talent and incredible beauty. In 1956, she played Bluebell in Three Men in a Boat and proceeded to clinch the role of Jennifer Potter in the 1957 comedy film There’s Always a Thursday.
In 1959, she made her debut in a TV series after being cast in The Voodoo Factor to play Renee. She then played Sue in Jungle Street Girls, a 1960 crime/drama. By this time, Jill Ireland was already gaining some reputation as a superstar of note.
In 1961, Jill starred as Ann in So Evil, So Young, and then portrayed Janet in Twice Round the Daffodils, a 1962 comedy. In 1963, she starred as Marianne in Richard the Lionheart.
The Move To Hollywood
Having worked primarily in England until this point, Jill Ireland decided to move to America in 1963 to star in Hollywood productions. In 1964, she appeared in Ben Casey, an American medical drama series in which she portrayed Julie Carr. The same year, she was cast in The Man from U.N.C.L.E., an American spy-fiction television series in which she played different roles.
Jill Ireland went on to appear in various other American productions, becoming a familiar face around the USA and beyond. In 1967, she put her name on many lips with her performance in an episode of Star Trek in which she played Leila Kalomi. The role endeared her to many fans who started calling her ‘the only woman Mr. Spock ever loved’.
In 1975, she starred in Lucy Simpson in Hard Times, a crime neo-noir sports film that made headlines in the late 70s. She then played Geri Nichols in the 1982 vigilante action film, Death Wish II.
In recognition of her incredible work as an actress, she was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
The Men Jill Ireland Married
Jill Ireland was famously married to two men in her lifetime – Charles Bronson and David McCallum. Both men were great American actors. She was first married to David McCallum, having met on the set of one of her films, Hell Drivers and they got married on the 11th of May, 1957.
The couple went on to have three children. Their first child, a boy called Valentine McCallum was born in October 1963. Their second child, a boy called Paul McCallum was born in January 1970. They also adopted a third child called Jason McCallum. Sadly Jason passed away in 1989. Eventually, the marriage between Jill and McCallum ended in 1967, after 10 years.
Within a year, she married Charles Bronson. She got married to Charles on the 5th of October 1968 and they were married until her death.
The lovebirds had two children together – One biological daughter, Zuleika, and another, Katrina, who was adopted.
Interestingly, Jill Ireland and her husband Charles Bronson acted in many movies together. As a matter of fact, they are on record to have acted in as many as 15 films together.
Some of the movies they starred in together include The Mechanic Girl in 1972, Hard Times in 1975, Death Wish II in 1982, and Assassination in 1987.
How Jill Ireland Battled Cancer
Jill Ireland’s incredible acting career was greatly hampered when she was diagnosed with cancer. The actress was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1984. However, she decided she was going to fight the disease to the very end.
The actress soon became a model of strength and determination when she started her advocacy for the American Cancer Society, refusing to be pushed to oblivion by her condition. Her very visible work on behalf of cancer sufferers led the American Cancer Society to confer her with its Courage Award. She was handed the award by the then President Ronald Reagan.
Jill Ireland continued advocating for cancer patients and even wrote two books detailing her hard battle with cancer and gained massive public support afterward. She also became a spokesperson for the American Cancer Society.
…And Death Came Calling
After battling cancer for about six years, Jill Ireland, unfortunately, succumbed and sadly passed away on 18 May 1990. The actress was 54 years at the time of her death.
According to reports, she died at her home in Malibu, California while surrounded by her husband and her children at around 11:30 a.m. Her death sparked an outpouring of grief among fans of the actress and people who had admired her courage in fighting the dreaded disease.