The prolific and evergreen David McCallum, star of such notable films as The Great Escape, and The Greatest Story Every Told and the TV series Sapphire and Steele, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and Colditz, has died.
McCallum was 90 years old and died of natural causes in New York city on Monday.
Although McCallum’s credits are many and varied, he was perhaps best known by modern audiences as pathologist Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard on CBS’ long-running drama series NCIS, in which he appeared in 457 episodes over two decades.
His son Peter made a statement on behalf of his family, saying, “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 and his youngest grandson, Whit, 9, could often be found in the corner of a room at family parties having deep philosophical conversations.
“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.”
CBS said in a statement, “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. Our hearts go out to his wife Katherine and his entire family, and all those who knew and loved David.”
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