NCIS veteran David McCallum passed away this morning at the age of 90. NCIS veteran David McCallum, also known for his Emmy-nominated role in The Man From U.N.C.L.E., died peacefully this morning of natural causes at New York Presbyterian Hospital, surrounded by family. He was 90, having celebrated his birthday less than a week ago.
A fan favorite, McCallum (pictured) was the last remaining original cast member on CBS’ NCIS, in which he played Chief Medical Examiner Donald “Ducky” Mallard, an eccentric but highly efficient investigator with a knack for psychological profiling, for two decades.
“For over 20 years, David McCallum endeared himself to audiences around the world playing the wise, quirky, and sometimes enigmatic, Dr. Donald ‘Ducky’ Mallard,” said NCIS executive producers Steven D. Binder and David North. “But as much as his fans may have loved him, those who worked side by side with David loved him that much more. He was a scholar and a gentleman, always gracious, a consummate professional, and never one to pass up a joke. From Day 1, it was an honor to work with him and he never let us down. He was, quite simply, a legend. He was also family and will be deeply missed.”
The previously announced 20th anniversary NCIS marathon will now include an “In memoriam” card in remembrance of McCallum. You can see it below.
“We are deeply saddened by the passing of David McCallum and privileged that CBS was his home for so many years,” the network and NCIS studio CBS Studios said in a joint statement. “David was a gifted actor and author, and beloved by many around the world. He led an incredible life, and his legacy will forever live on through his family and the countless hours on film and television that will never go away. We will miss his warmth and endearing sense of humor that lit up any room or soundstage he stepped onto, as well as the brilliant stories he often shared from a life well-lived. Our hearts go out to his wife Katherine and his entire family, and all those who knew and loved David.”
McCallum was born on September 19, 1933 in Glasgow, Scotland, into a prominent musical family. He studied at the Royal Academy of Music. In 1946, McCallum began working for BBC Radio and made his debut in a 1946 production of Whom the Gods Love, Die Young. This was followed by several years in repertory theatre.
After moving to America in 1961, McCallum was cast in the role of Illya Kuryakin in the TV series The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Initially a minor character with two lines. But that was enough for producers to see that McCallum and star Robert Vaughn had considerable chemistry together, and McCallum was boosted to co-star status, with the role earning him two Emmy Award nominations and a Golden Globe nod. He went on to appear in the movies The Greatest Story Ever Told, The Great Escape, Mosquito Squadron, Billy Budd, Freud and A Night to Remember and in several TV movies, including the 1969 Teacher, Teacher, which landed him his third Emmy nomination.
McCallum found his next hit with NCIS. His “Ducky” Mallard, a confidant of Mark Harmon's Jethro Gibbs, served as confessor and father figure to the series' unconventional cast. McCallum remained in the series until the end, but worked on a lighter basis in recent years. He showed his trademark sense of humor when announcing his return in 2018.
In the 1970s, the actor was also a regular face in the series Colditz (1972), The Invisible Man (1975) and Sapphire and Steel, and played guest roles in Matlock, Murder, She Wrote (twice even), The A-Team, McCloud, Babylon 5, Law & Order and Sex and the City.
In addition to his acting, McCallum also orchestrated and conducted a trio of records that put a unique spin on some of the more popular songs of the era. In 2016, McCallum published his first novel, Once a Crooked Man.
Callum is survived by his wife of 56 years, Katherine McCallum, his sons Paul McCallum, Valentine McCallum and Peter McCallum, his daughter Sophie McCallum and his eight grandchildren: Julia McCallum, Luca de Sanctis, Iain de Sanctis, Stella McCallum, Gavin McCallum, George McCallum, Alessandro de Sanctis and Whit McCallum.