Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Remembering Jill Ireland: April 24, 1936 - May 18, 1990

Today would have been the 77th birthday of the lovely actress and author of several best-selling autobiographies Jill Ireland who passed away at the age of 54 in 1990 after a long, brave and public battle with breast cancer.  Many remember the string of motion pictures she co-starred in with her second husband Charles Bronson, but Jill Ireland also had a long and interesting career on the small screen. 
On "The Man from U.N.C.L.E."
You may also remember that her first husband was David McCallum, the talented actor who became a genuine sensation as the dashing Russian secret agent Ilya Kuryakin on The Man from U.N.C.L.E., also starring the equally dashing Robert Vaughn.  While her then-husband was off fighting the global baddies of T.H.R.U.S.H., Jill Ireland was making appearances on series like Ben Casey, My Favorite Martian, 12 O'Clock High, Daniel Boone, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, and co-starring on the short-lived series Shane opposite David Carradine.  Jill Ireland also starred on several episodes of her husband's TV show which is where I first saw her and remembered her.  (Ireland divorced McCallum in 1967 and wed Bronson the next year.)

Most famously perhaps, Jill Ireland made an guest appearance on the legend-making Star Trek -- only nobody knew then how far-reaching that series' impact would turn out to be -- in a first season episode This Side of Paradise.  Written by Roddenberry's trusted story editor D. (Dorothy) C. Fontana and directed by TV veteran Ralph Senensky, the episode was a fan favorite as the ever-logical Mr. Spock met up again with a beautiful woman who had been enamored of him on Earth.  Leila Kalome as played by Jill Ireland was an ethereal blonde vision of loveliness, a gentle soul who, as we find out, is one of a colony of planetary settlers who have been infected with parasitic spores which induce peace, acceptance and docility.  Even the unemotional Mr. Spock is finally able to break his stoic Vulcan demeanor and express his love for Leila. 

This was Star Trek history and Jill Ireland was an integral part of it.  We would like to honor Jill Ireland by sharing the trailer for The Side of Paradise.  For fascinating background information on the production of the episode, you will want to check out director Ralph Senensky's own blog for his entertaining and enlightening recollections -- click here.

You'll also enjoy this fan-made video for a song from Leonard Nimoy's second record album The Two Sides of Leonard Nimoy.  "Once I Smiled" (written by Nimoy and Charles R. Grean) tells the story of This Side of Paradise and the video illustrates the lyrics with clips from the episode.  It may be a little silly, but it's Star Trek: The Original Series canon and that's good enough for a lot of us.  We can't embed it here but you should go directly to YouTube by clicking here and watch it.

We fondly remember Jill Ireland on this day.  She is not forgotten.



Jane said...

I think I've sort of been sick with jealousy for many years over Jill Ireland's make out scene with Spock. No doubt it wrecked havoc with my adolescent fantasies when I watched the original. She was a stunningly beautiful actress. Strange how those who have been taken when they are still relatively young live on forever as these ageless, gorgeous icons.

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