Birthday: April 24, 1936
Nationality: American, British
Died At Age: 54
Sun Sign: Taurus
Also Known As: Jill Dorothy Ireland
Born Country: England
Born in: London
Famous as: Actress
Height: 5'7" (170 cm), 5'7" Females
Spouse/Ex-: Charles Bronson (m. 1968), David McCallum (m. 1957 - div. 1967)
father: Jack Ireland
mother: Dorothy Ireland
children: Jason McCallum, Katrina Holden Bronson, Paul McCallum, Val McCallum, Zuleika Bronson
Died on: May 18, 1990
place of death: Malibu, California
City: London, England
Jill Dorothy Ireland was an English-born American actor, known for her lead roles in a number of movies starring her second husband, Charles Bronson. Born and raised in London, England, she trained in ballet as a child. She began her acting career as a dancer in ‘Oh... Rosalinda!!’ In the beginning, she worked with the acting ensemble of ‘The Rank Organization’ and appeared in 16 movies with them. After marrying actor David McCallum, she accompanied him to Hollywood. Ireland guest-starred in a number of TV series, such as ‘Star Trek,’ ‘Mannix,’ and ‘Ben Casey.’ She appeared as the lead actor (with her second husband, Charles Bronson) in several action movies, such as ‘Breakout,’ ‘Love and Bullets,’ and ‘Death Wish II.’ After being diagnosed with breast cancer, she chronicled her difficult battle with the disease and her treatment in the bestselling book ‘Life Wish: a Personal Story of Survival.’ She also wrote ‘Lifeline: My Fight to Save My Family,’ which described her son Jason’s drug addiction. She was the celebrity spokesperson for the ‘American Cancer Society’ and had won their ‘Courage Award.’ She had five children, including two adopted ones. Ireland died of breast cancer at 54.
Childhood & Early Life
Ireland was born on April 24, 1936, in London, England, to Dorothy and Jack Ireland. Her father was a wine trader. She had a brother named John Ireland. She learnt ballet during childhood and gave her first professional performance at 12. She also performed with the ‘Monte Carlo Ballet’ and toured around Europe with them.
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At the start of her acting career, Ireland joined the acting ensemble of the British production company named ‘The Rank Organization.’ At 16, she made her film debut as a dancer in ‘Oh... Rosalinda!!’ (1955). The movie featured her with Sir Michael Redgrave. She was also part of ‘Simon and Laura’ (1955), a film adaptation of a stage comedy. Ireland was associated with 16 movies of ‘The Rank Organization,’ including ‘Hell Drivers’ (1957), ‘There’s Always a Thursday’ (1957), ‘Three Men in a Boat’ (1958), and ‘The Big Money’ (1962).
Ireland met actor David McCallum while working with ‘The Rank’ ensemble during the filming of ‘Hell Drivers,’ and she also appeared with him in ‘Robbery under Arms’ (1957). After the couple got married (in 1957), they both moved to Hollywood in 1962, where McCallum appeared as ‘Agent Illya Kuryakin’ in the series ‘The Man from U.N.C.L.E.’ Ireland, too, appeared with him in five episodes of this series, from 1964 to 1967.
In Hollywood, Ireland chiefly worked on TV. She soon turned into a popular guest star and appeared in several TV series, such as ‘Ben Casey,’ ‘Mannix,’ and ‘Night Gallery.’ Her guest appearance as ‘Leila Kalomi’ in an episode of ‘Star Trek’ (1966) brought her immense appreciation. In 1966, she essayed the role of a mother, ‘Marian Starett,’ in the Western TV series ‘Shane.’
Later, Ireland appeared in several action-adventure movies with her second husband, Charles Bronson. Their first film together was ‘Villa Rides’ (1968). She then starred alongside Bronson in the French mystery thriller ‘Rider on the Rain’ (1970) and played a minor part in his film ‘London Affair’ (1970).
Over the next 17 years, Ireland was the lead actor in most of the films starring Bronson, who had become a huge star by then. A few notable action-adventure movies starring them were ‘Cold Sweat’ (1970), ‘The Valachi Papers’ (1972), ‘Valdez Horses’ (1973), ‘Breakout’ (1975), ‘Breakheart Pass’ (1975), ‘From Noon Till Three’ (1976), ‘Love and Bullets’ (1979), and ‘Death Wish II’ (1982).
Ireland continued to work after she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1984. She was featured in the movie ‘Assassination’ (1987). She made her last screen appearance in ‘Caught’ (1987).
Ireland earned a “star” on the ‘Hollywood Walk of Fame’ at 6751 Hollywood Boulevard.
She worked as a producer for the thrillers ‘The Evil That Men Do’ (1984) and ‘Murphy's Law’ (1986).
Family & Personal Life
Ireland married actor David McCallum on May 11, 1957. Together, they had two sons, Paul and Valentine. They also had an adopted son, Jason.
Later, they learnt that Jason was alcoholic and addicted to drugs. He died of drug overdose in 1989 (6 months before Ireland’s death).
In 1963, when McCallum and Charles Bronson were working together on ‘The Great Escape,’ Ireland was introduced to Bronson. She and McCallum divorced on February 19, 1967.
Ireland and Bronson got married on October 5, 1968. Together, they had a daughter, Zuleika. They adopted their friend’s daughter, Katrina, after the friend’s death.
In 1984, Ireland was diagnosed with cancer in her right breast. After a mastectomy, she received chemotherapy and radiation. In 1987, she published a book named ‘Life Wish: a Personal Story of Survival,’ describing her own experiences with cancer and its treatment. The book proved to be a bestseller, as it provided encouragement to those enduring the same pain and difficulties. She was the spokesperson for the ‘American Cancer Society’ and toured the country, motivating cancer patients through her speeches. Ireland made a representation about the medical expenses of cancer patients before the ‘Congressional Committee’ and was awarded the ‘Medal of Courage’ by President Ronald Reagan.
In her second book, ‘Lifeline: My Fight to Save My Family,’ Ireland wrote about coping with her adopted son Jason’s drug addiction and his subsequent death. At the time of her death, she was writing her third book.
In 1989, her cancer recurred and her lungs were affected. She underwent intense chemotherapy sessions. On May 18, 1990, Ireland succumbed to the disease at her home in Malibu, California.