The actor, originally from Scotland, achieved fame primarily for his role in the 1960s spy TV series and, more recently, for his role as Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard in "NCIS".
Renowned actor David McCallum, celebrated for his role as a teenage heartthrob in the iconic 1960s series "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." and later as the eccentric medical examiner in the immensely popular "NCIS" four decades later, has died at the age of 90.
According to American TV network CBS, McCallum died on Monday due to natural causes while surrounded by his family at New York Presbyterian Hospital
“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,” said a statement from CBS
Early life and career
Born in Scotland, McCallum initially gained recognition for his appearances in films such as "A Night to Remember" (depicting the Titanic disaster), "The Great Escape," and "The Greatest Story Ever Told" (portraying Judas).
However, it was "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." that catapulted the fair-haired actor with a beatnik haircut into household stardom during the mid-'60s.
The show's inception in 1964 featured Robert Vaughn as Napoleon Solo, an agent within a secretive, technologically advanced crime-fighting unit known as the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement (U.N.C.L.E.).
McCallum played as Illya Kuryakin, Solo’s Russian sidekick.
While the series initially drew mixed reviews, it eventually captured the hearts of viewers, particularly teenage girls enamored by McCallum's good looks and enigmatic, intellectual persona.
By 1965, Illya had evolved into Solo's equal, and both stars found themselves mobbed during public appearances.
The series continued until 1968, and in 1983, Vaughn and McCallum reunited for a nostalgic TV movie, "The Return of the Man From U.N.C.L.E.," where the agents emerged from retirement to save the world once more.
Becoming Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard
McCallum returned to television in 2003 in another series with an agency known by its initials — CBS’ “NCIS.”
He played Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard, a bookish pathologist for the Naval Criminal Investigation Service, an agency handling crimes involving the Navy or the Marines. Mark Harmon played the NCIS boss
McCallum said he thought Ducky, who sported glasses and a bow tie and had an eye for pretty women, “looked a little silly, but it was great fun to do.”
He took the role seriously, too, spending time in the Los Angeles coroner’s office to gain insight into how autopsies are conducted.
In 2007, when he was working on “NCIS,” McCallum told a reporter: “I’ve always felt the harder I work, the luckier I get. I believe in serendipitous things happening, but at the same time, dedicating yourself to what you do is the best way to get along in this life.”
Throughout his illustrious career, McCallum also made guest appearances on various TV shows, such as "Murder, She Wrote" and "Sex and the City."
He even graced Broadway stage, performing in the 1968 comedy "The Flip Side," and in a 1999 revival of "Amadeus," alongside actors Michael Sheen and David Suchet.
Fans and several co-stars have shared tributes to the actor on social media.