David McCallum, a veteran actor who played the role of Donald “Ducky” Mallard on the popular CBS series NCIS, has died at the age of 90. He passed away of natural causes at New York Presbyterian Hospital on Monday, September 25, 2023, surrounded by his family. His death was confirmed by CBS and his son Peter McCallum in separate statements.
McCallum was born in Scotland and studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. He began his acting career in British television and film, appearing in classics such as The Great Escape and A Night to Remember, but he rose to fame in the US as Illya Kuryakin, a Russian spy opposite Robert Vaughn’s Napoleon Solo, in the 1960s spy series The Man From U.N.C.L.E, a pop-culture phenomenon in the mid-1960s that ran for four seasons. McCallum became a teen idol.
The series’ popularity was such that it spawned a spinoff, “The Girl From U.N.C.L.E.,” starring Stefanie Powers, as well as a few feature adaptations during the run of the TV series, “One Spy Too Many,” “One of Our Spies Is Missing” and “The Karate Killers,” that starred Vaughn and McCallum.
McCallum continued to work steadily in various roles, including the lead in the short-lived NBC series The Invisible Man and he made a memorable guest appearance in The Outer Limits. He also recorded several albums and had his instrumental song “The Edge” sampled by Dr. Dre for the hit rap song “The Next Episode”.
In 2003, McCallum joined the cast of NCIS as Ducky, the chief medical examiner and a mentor figure to the team of investigators. He brought his charm, wit and expertise to the role, which he played for 20 seasons until his final appearance in May 2023. He was beloved by his co-stars and fans alike, and was praised for his professionalism and kindness.
McCallum is survived by his wife of 56 years Katherine McCallum, four sons (Paul McCallum, Valentine McCallum and Peter McCallum), his daughter Sophie McCallum and eight grandchildren. He will be remembered as a gifted actor, author and musician who led an incredible life and left a lasting legacy on screen and off.