David McCallum, the gifted actor who starred in the hit 1960s drama “The Man From U.N.C.L.E” as Illya Kuryakin, died on Monday in New York City.
The Scottish star who also rose to fame playing chief medical examiner Donald “Ducky” Mallard on NCIS, was 90.
“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,” CBS said in a statement.
The actor passed “peacefully” of natural causes surrounded by his family at New York Presbyterian Hospital, CBS announced.
The Post has reached out to McCallum’s representatives for comment.
“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,” the statement from continued. “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’s son Peter also shared a statement on behalf of the family.
“He was the kindest, coolest, most patient and loving father. He always put family before self. He looked forward to any chance to connect with his grandchildren, and had a unique bond with each of them,” he said. “He and his youngest grandson, Whit, 9, could often be found in the corner of a room at family parties having deep philosophical conversations.”
The statement continued, “He was a true renaissance man—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’.”
“After returning from the hospital to their apartment, I asked my mother if she was OK before she went to sleep. Her answer was simply, ‘Yes. But I do wish we had had a chance to grow old together.’ She is 79, and dad just turned 90. The honesty in that emotion shows how vibrant their beautiful relationship and daily lives were, and that somehow, even at 90, Daddy never grew old.”
McCallum was a staple on “NCIS.” The actor spent all 20 seasons of the crime series playing Ducky, an autopsy expert with a penchant for wearing bow ties. He appeared in more than 450 episodes. The 20th anniversary NCIS marathon on Monday night will now include an “in memoriam” card in remembrance of McCallum.
“For over twenty years, David McCallum endeared himself to audiences around the world playing the wise, quirky, and sometimes enigmatic, Dr. Donald ‘Ducky’ Mallard,” “NCIS” executive producers Steven D. Binder and David North shared in a joint statement.
“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.”
They 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.”
McCallum was born in 1933 in Glasgow, United Kingdom. After he moved to the United States in 1961, he quickly got his big break in the role of agent Illya Kuryakin in “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” opposite Robert Vaughn who played multilingual spy Napoleon Solo, who spoke German, Russian, Italian, Spanish, Japanese. His performance was well received and he earned two Emmy nominations and a Golden Globe nomination for the role.
“I was out of work and had bills to pay, and [my friend, actor] Charlie Bronson knew that was the case,” McCallum said an interview with The Emmys. “He said, ‘Why don’t we have lunch in the commissary at MGM and we’ll see what happens?’ So we went. When you’re a kid from Glasgow who’s watched movies growing up, and all of a sudden you’re in this cathedral which is the MGM commissary, with all the pictures on the wall and people walking around who you’ve seen on the screen — I just was carried away.”
“I met Sam Rolfe [creator of “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.”] at that lunch, and I think a seed was planted. I was then called by my agent, who said, ‘You’ve been offered three television series. One is to play Alexander the Great. Another is to play Judas Iscariot’ — I’d just played Judas in ‘The Greatest Story Ever Told’ — ‘And the other is a thing called ‘Solo,’ which is based to a certain extent on the Bond books.’ It wasn’t called Solo in the end because there was a conflict with the Bond rights, so it became ‘The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’”
Callum’s also notably appeared in the films “The Great Escape” and “A Night to Remember.”
McCallum is survived by his wife of 56 years, Katherine McCallum, his daughter Sophie McCallum, his sons Peter, Paul and Valentine 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.