Deadline reports that NCIS star David McCallum passed away peacefully at the age of 90 yesterday. Though the Man From U.N.C.L.E. star has been starring in films since 1957, he spent the last two decades portraying Donald “Ducky” Mallard on the CBS series NCIS, a role that he carried out until his death. McCallum is survived by Katherine McCallum, his wife of 56 years, his four children, and his eight grandchildren.
David McCallum won audiences over with Ducky, the eccentric and extremely intelligent investigator and psychological profiler on the hit CBS series. Though Ducky was known for his morbid sense of humor in NCIS, he was also a paternal figure to many of the unique characters throughout the show’s run, a trait that people close to him say was genuine.
NCIS veteran David McCallum, who has portrayed medical examiner Ducky on the long-running series in each season, passed away at the age of 90.
His son, Peter McCallum, stated that he was a loving father who not only always put his family before himself, but was also a true renaissance man who was deeply interested in science, culture, and music.
Though Ducky is a beloved fictional character in the NCIS universe, David McCallum’s passion for the role was unmatched. To prepare for the role, McCallum attended several medical examiner conventions, and his knowledge in the field became so vast, the production staff considered making him a technical advisor on the show. According to his son Peter, he was actually capable of performing an autopsy because of how intensely he studied his character over the decades.
Though Ducky was known for his morbid sense of humor in NCIS, he was also a paternal figure to many of the unique characters throughout the show’s run, a trait that people close to him say was genuine.
Technical skills aside, David McCallum was always approachable, and quick to crack a joke on-set while working with his co-stars. After Mark Harmon’s departure from the series in 2021, McCallum became the last remaining original cast member on the long-running procedural until his passing.
The series will include an “In memoriam” for McCallum on the upcoming 20th anniversary NCIS marathon, and it’s clear that his presence will be sorely missed, not only by his family, but everybody he’s ever worked with in the past.
Long before his acting career, David McCallum was an avid musician. After making the switch to pursue acting full-time, music remained one of his passions, as well as writing. In 2016, he published his first novel, Once a Crooked Man, which showcased his love for true crime, and is centered on a young actor who tries to solve a murder mystery. On the literary front, McCallum also narrated a number of novels, including the works of Eric Knight, and H.P. Lovecraft.
The series will include an “In memoriam” for McCallum on the upcoming 20th anniversary NCIS marathon.
For long-time fans of NCIS, it’s going to prove difficult to replace a character like Ducky because David McCallum is simply irreplaceable. Ducky’s love for art, music, and science was deeply rooted in the actor that portrayed him, and his passion for music, learning, acting, and dropping an intimidating amount of knowledge in a way that was always receptive and approachable is a testament to how acting isn’t just about playing a character, but living through a character.
As of this writing, there is no set date for a memorial service for the legendary David McCallum, but a service will be held to celebrate his life and accomplishments will be held in the near future.