The best of enemies: Joe Sirola and David McCallum in The Napoleon's Tomb Affair episode of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
By Lee Pfeiffer
Regular readers of Cinema Retro magazine know about actor Joe Sirola's remarkable career through his periodic columns for our publication. In addition to appearing in hundreds of movies, plays and TV series, Joe is also the toast of the town in New York City, due to his exclusive annual party to celebrate the blooming of his rose garden in his penthouse garden just off Central Park. Joe's been throwing these parties for decades, and in doing some research on an article, I came across a New York Daily News society column from 1967 that touted the party as the social event of the month! The tradition is in good form, as evidenced by Joe's latest soiree, which took place last week.As usual, the weather was superb, as guests socialized under a canopy and drank the seemingly endless supply of fine champagne. One of the delights of Joe's parties is the eclectic crowd, consisting of old friends, notable names from show business and prominent society types. I bumped into 95 year old legendary comedian Prof. Irwin Corey, who was throwing out one-liners at the speed of sound, all the while attired in his familiar hand-decorated baseball cap that denounces the Bush administration for being behind the World Trade Center attack. Proving that conspiracy advocates are bi-partisan, I gleaned from the Professor that he apparently thinks President Obama was also in on the fix. As they say, politics makes strange bedfellows.
Musician Jon Weber (left) is assisting actor/director Stuart Margolin with his first foray into the world of musical theater. (Photo copyright: Lee Pfeiffer)
I also chatted with actor/director Stuart Margolin, who shared some funny memories of working with directors Michael Winner on the original Death Wish and Brian G. Hutton on the Clint Eastwood flick Kelly's Heroes. (I smell a future interview here.) Stuart is working like gangbusters, not only flying to Canada to film a CBS TV movie called The Bridge but also going in a totally new direction by preparing his first musical production.
Joe Sirola reunited with his old TV nemesis, David McCallum. (Photo copyright: Lee Pfeiffer)
At one point, there was a bit of commotion and I saw a crowd gathering around a new arrival. It was David McCallum, making a surprise appearance. Even among New York sophisticates, he can still cause a stir and several middle-aged women swooned like teenagers, which made the shy McCallum seem a bit awkward. David's aversion to the party scene is well-known, but he couldn't resist Joe Sirola's invitation. I hadn't seen David for a couple of years and it appears as though he's found the secret to eternal youth. He introduced me to his lovely wife Katherine and we chatted about his hit CBS show NCIS, which has just been renewed for a seventh season. David pointed out the series has now run twice as long as The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Speaking of which, David and Joe first met when Joe appeared as a guest star in several episodes of the series. I couldn't help but to ask the two U.N.C.L.E. alumni to pose for a reunion photo.
Just another night on the town in New York - and reminder why it still remains my favorite city.
(For Joe Sirola's memories of Hang 'Em High, see Cinema Retro issue #6. For David McCallum's extensive series of interviews, see Cinema Retro issues 8-12)