In a somber announcement that left the entertainment world in mourning, renowned actor David McCallum, best known for his roles in ‘The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’ and ‘NCIS,’ passed away at the age of 90.
The news was confirmed by CBS in a statement, revealing that McCallum died of natural causes on Monday, surrounded by his family at New York Presbyterian Hospital.
Born in Glasgow in 1933, McCallum was the son of two musicians. His father, also named David, played violin, while his mother was a cellist.
The family moved to London when McCallum was just three years old, where his father performed with the prestigious London Philharmonic and Royal Philharmonic. This early exposure to the arts undoubtedly influenced McCallum’s own career path.
We are deeply saddened by the passing of David McCallum and privileged that CBS was his home for so many years. 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… pic.twitter.com/1UgOz7pQ8g
— The NCISverse (@ncisverse) September 25, 2023
McCallum attended the Royal Academy of Music, initially studying the oboe. However, he soon realized his true passion lay in acting, leading him to study at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.
Despite his self-described physical appearance as a “small, emaciated blond with a caved chest,” McCallum persevered, landing roles in live television and movies after completing his military service.
His breakthrough came in 1957 when he starred in ‘Robbery Under Arms,’ an adventure set in early Australia, alongside rising actress Jill Ireland. This marked the beginning of a successful and diverse acting career that spanned over six decades.
McCallum’s most notable roles were in the hit TV series ‘The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’ and ‘NCIS.’ In the former, he played secret agent Illya Kuryakin, a role that catapulted him to international fame.
In ‘NCIS,’ he portrayed Dr. Donald ‘Ducky’ Mallard, a bookish pathologist for the Naval Criminal Investigation Service. His performance in this role was so convincing that his son Peter once remarked that McCallum could perform an autopsy if needed, thanks to his extensive research for the role.
It is with a broken heart that we say Rest in Peace David McCallum. David played Donald "Ducky" Mallard on NCIS for 20 years, and his work will always be appreciated and remembered. We send his family, and the NCIS cast and crew all our love and prayers at this time🤍 pic.twitter.com/GpkifUXbUN
— NCISverse Updates (@NCISVERSEUPDATE) September 25, 2023
Despite being born in Scotland and starting his career in London, McCallum was a longtime American citizen. He once told The Associated Press he loved the freedom of America and everything it stood for.
This love for his adopted country was evident in his work, particularly in his portrayal of characters who embodied the values of justice and integrity.
McCallum is survived by his wife of 56 years, Katherine McCallum, his sons Paul, Valentine, and Peter, his daughter Sophie, and eight grandchildren. His legacy will live on through his family and the memorable characters he brought to life on screen.