David McCallum, the actor behind the beloved NCIS character Ducky and many other projects, dies at the age of 90 surrounded by his family.
- David McCallum, best known for his role as Ducky on NCIS, has passed away at the age of 90 from natural causes.
- McCallum was a talented actor, author, and scholar, known for his passion for science and culture.
- He was beloved by fans and colleagues alike and will be remembered as a legend and deeply missed.
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Nearly six years after he left the long-running crime procedural, NCIS‘ Ducky actor David McCallum has died at the age of 90. McCallum was one of the primary cast for the first 15 seasons of the CBS drama, portraying the agency’s eccentric chief medical examiner Dr. Donald Mallard, affectionately nicknamed Ducky based on his last name. In addition to providing insight for the victims of their cases, Ducky was often a point of emotional and moral comfort for Jethro Gibbs and his team.
TheWrap has brought the sad news that McCallum has died at the age of 90. The Ducky actor was said to have “passed away peacefully” from natural causes surrounded by his family in New York, with his son Peter offering a statement calling him “the kindest, coolest, most patient and loving father” and remembering his passion for science and culture. See Peter McCallum’s statement below, along with statements from CBS and executive producers Steven D. Binder & David North:
Peter McCallum: 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.
CBS: 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 countless hours on film and television that will never go away. 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.
Steven D. Binder & David North: 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. He was a scholar and a gentleman, always gracious, a consummate professional, and never one to pass up a joke. 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.
NCIS Was Only A Part Of McCallum’s Acting Legacy
McCallum’s exit from NCIS in season 15 was one of the tougher ones for longtime fans of the show, with audiences missing his witty banter with both the NCIS team and even the bodies he was examining. Ducky wouldn’t be the only major character whose season 15 departure was met with lamentation from viewers as Pauley Perrette’s Abby would leave in the same season, with a recent report revealing this stemmed from an on-set incident involving executive producer/star Mark Harmon’s dog biting someone. The vocal animal rights supporter felt her time on set was no longer what she wanted and elected to resign from the show.
Though many may best remember McCallum for his tenure as NCIS‘ Ducky, the character was only one part of the actor’s celebrated career on screen. The Scottish actor first rose to stardom in the ’60s as one of the two leads for The Man From U.N.C.L.E., starring as Soviet secret agent Illya Kuryakin as he teamed up with American spy Napoleon Solo. The show, which ran for four seasons and 105 episodes would even get a short-lived spinoff, The Girl From U.N.C.L.E., a reunion TV movie in 1983 for which McCallum returned, and the 2015 movie remake led by Henry Cavill as Solo and Armie Hammer as Kuryakin.
Even outside of NCIS and The Man From U.N.C.L.E., McCallum enjoyed a variety of roles on both the big and small screen, ranging from the Oscar-nominated WWII classic The Great Escape to voicing Alfred Pennyworth in a number of direct-to-video animated Batman movies. With Ducky having played a recurring role on NCIS in recent years, his absence is unlikely to affect the story too much, though it will be interesting to see how the long-running crime procedural pays tribute to its late star in the near future.