David McCallum, Actor on ‘NCIS’ and ‘The Man From U.N.C.L.E,’ Dies at 90

“From Day 1, it was an honor to work with him and he never let us down. He was, quite simply, a legend,” say “NCIS” executive producers

David McCallum on NCIS
David McCallum on NCIS (CBS)

David McCallum, who played Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard on CBS procedural “NCIS” and Illya Kuryakin on ’60s series “The Man From U.N.C.L.E,” has died at 90. The actor passed away peacefully Monday morning of natural causes surrounded by family at New York Presbyterian Hospital, CBS said in a statement.

Son Peter McCallum remembered him as “the kindest, coolest, most patient and loving father” and as a true renaissance man.” Added Peter, “He was fascinated by science and culture and would turn those passions into knowledge.  For example, he was capable of conducting a symphony orchestra and (if needed) could actually perform an autopsy, based on his decades-long studies for his role on ‘NCIS.’”

He ended his statement with, “Somehow, even at 90, Daddy never grew old.”

David McCallum in 1966
David McCallum in 1966 (Photo by Earl Leaf/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

“For over 20 years, David McCallum endeared himself to audiences around the world playing the wise, quirky, and sometimes enigmatic, Dr. Donald ‘Ducky’ Mallard. But as much as his fans may have loved him, those who worked side by side with David loved him that much more,” said “NCIS” executive producers Steven D. Binder and David North in a statement shared with TheWrap.

They added, “He was a scholar and a gentleman, always gracious, a consummate professional, and never one to pass up a joke,” Binder and North added. “From day one, 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.”

“We are deeply saddened by the passing of David McCallum and privileged that CBS was his home for so many years,” said the network. They remembered him as “a gifted actor and author” who “led an incredible life.” The statement went on to say, “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.”

An in-memoriam card will be added to the already scheduled 20th anniversary marathon of “NCIS,” which, coincidentally, begins on Monday.

McCallum joined the cast of “NCIS” in 2003 as Chief Medical Examiner Donald “Ducky” Mallard, a fatherly figure to the rest of the squad who was well known for his bow ties and his beloved corgis. Earlier this year, his character went from regular to recurring as Ducky was made an NCIS historian who was no longer involved in the day to day investigations.

Born David Keith McCallum, Jr. in Glasgow, Scotland on Sept. 19, 1933, he was the son of David McCallum, Sr., the principal violinist for numerous orchestras in the United Kingdom, including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and cellist Dorothy Dorman.

He studied at the Royal Academy of Music, then switched his focus to acting. After studying at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, he joined Actors’ Equity in 1946 and made his debut in a 1946 production of “Whom the Gods Love, Die Young.”

After moving to America in 1961, he was cast in the role of Russian agent Illya Kuryakin in “The Man from U.N.C.L.E,” a role that earned him two Emmy nominations and a Golden Globe nod. He went on to appear in films including “The Greatest Story Ever Told,” “The Great Escape,” “Billy Budd,” “Freud” and “A Night to Remember.”

In the ’70s, he headlined the series “The Invisible Man,” later appearing in the BBC Mystery! “Motherlove,” as well as episodes of “The Outer Limits,” “Law & Order” and “Sex and the City.”

In lieu of flowers, the actor’s family asks that donations be made to the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation at www.mcsf.org. No immediate memorial service will take place, instead a celebration of life service will be held in the future.

David is survived by his wife of 56 years, Katherine McCallum, his sons Paul, Valentine and Peter his daughter Sophie and his eight grandchildren: Julia McCallum, Luca de Sanctis, Iain de Sanctis, Stella McCallum, Gavin McCallum, George McCallum, Alessandro de Sanctis and Whit McCallum.


2 responses to “David McCallum, Actor on ‘NCIS’ and ‘The Man From U.N.C.L.E,’ Dies at 90”

  1. Loretta Cantu-Rothstein Avatar
    Loretta Cantu-Rothstein

    Loved David McCallum since his role in The Man From UNCLE! May he rest in peace. Sincere condolences for his family and friends and the NCIS cast. I am shedding tears for him and thanking him for all the memories that I have of him! ❤️❤️🙏💗💗💕💕💗🙏🙏🙏🙏

  2. JOHN MONES Avatar

    I remember watching Robert Vaughn as Nepolean Solo and David McCallum as Illya Kuryakin in Man From U.N.C.L.E.  Armie Hammer’s take on Illya Kuryakin in the recent movie version is a totally 180.  I liked it but it was different.  Mr, McCallen was a class act.

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