Jill Ireland


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Jill Ireland won her following from the stage of the London Palladium, where she was a favourite in her teens. Rank Organisation signed her in 1955 and, in her debut film, 'Oh Rosalind', she played a ballerina.

Jill Ireland was born in London, England on 24 April 1936 to a wine importer. After being signed by Rank Organisation, she played bit parts in 'Simon and Laura' (1955) and 'Three Men in a Boat (1956). In 1957, she married actor David McCallum.

With her first husband David McCallum, she appeared in several episodes of the popular 60s TV series, 'The Man from Uncle', in which McCallum played a cool-headed Russian agent.

They had three sons, Paul and Valentine as well as adopted son Jason. During this time, she appeared in 'Carry on Nurse' (1959), 'So Evil, So Young' (1961) and TV series' 'Star Trek' (1967), 'Shane' (1966) and '12 O'Clock High' between 1966 and 1966.

She divorced McCallum in 1967 and began a relationship with actor Charles Bronson, whom she had met in 1963 when McCallum and Bronson both starred in 'The Great Escape'.

Ireland married Charles Bronson in 1968, and most of her future onscreen work was done in collaboration with her husband; their best performances were in 'Hard Times' (1975) and 'From Noon Til Three' (1976). They also both appeared in 'The Mechanic' (1972), 'Valdez the Halfbreed' (1973), 'The Streetfighter' (1975) and 'Death Wish II' (1982).

Together they had a daughter called Zuleika and adopted daughter Katrina. They remained married until her death in 1990.

Diagnosed with breast cancer in 1984, she had a mastectomy, her public courage winning her even more fans. On her recovery, she wrote a book 'Life Wish' (1987) and worked as chairman of the National Cancer Society.

By this time her adopted son, Jason McCallum, had become a severe drug addict. Ireland devoted her time to rehabilitating him, but he died of an overdose in 1989.

She wrote 'Life Line', about her struggle to restore her son to health. The death took a high toll on her already precarious health, and she died a year after her son, before she could finish her third book, 'Life Times'.

On 18 May 1990, Ireland died of breast cancer at her home in Malibu, California. She has been awarded with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her contribution to the film industry.

In 1991, Jill Clayburgh portrayed Ireland in the made for TV movie 'Reason for Living: The Jill Ireland Story', which told of her later years and fight with breast cancer.

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