David McCallum, star of ‘The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’ and ‘NCIS,’ dies at 90

A black-and-white image of David McCallum with lanky blond hair, lounging in a couch in a denim outfit.
TV actor David McCallum has died. He was 90.
(Richard Drew / Associated Press)

David McCallum, a prolific TV actor known for starring in landmark series such as “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” and “NCIS,” has died. He was 90.

McCallum died Monday of natural causes at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, CBS said in a statement. Throughout his illustrious career, the Scottish-born performer amassed more than 100 credits spanning theater, film and television.

“David was a gifted actor and author ... beloved by many around the world,” the network said.


“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.”

In beloved career-launching and career-ending roles — and much in between — McCallum, who died Monday at 90, was always reason enough to tune in.

Sept. 26, 2023

A spokesperson for CBS added that the network’s upcoming “NCIS” marathon, celebrating the 20th anniversary of the popular procedural drama, will be dedicated to McCallum.

McCallum’s son Peter also praised the Emmy nominee in a statement as “the kindest, coolest, most patient and loving father” and grandfather.

“He was a true Renaissance man — he was fascinated by science and culture and would turn those passions into knowledge,” Peter McCallum said.

“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.’”


For the record:

12:16 p.m. Oct. 5, 2023This article says McCallum got his big break in 1961 with “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” The show premiered in 1964.

McCallum got his big break in 1961 when he was cast as Illya Kuryakin, a young Soviet spy, in the hit 1960s series “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” The role solidified McCallum’s status as a teen heartthrob and landed him a pair of Emmy nominations.

Forty years later, McCallum entertained a new generation of audiences as quirky medical examiner Donald “Ducky” Mallard in “NCIS” — which he appeared in as recently as May, according to IMDb.

In a statement provided to The Times, “NCIS” executive producers Steven D. Binder and David North fondly remembered McCallum as “a scholar and a gentleman” who was “always gracious” and “never one to pass up a joke.”

“[A]s much as his fans may have loved him, those who worked side by side with David loved him that much more,” they said.

“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.”

In addition to “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” and “NCIS,” McCallum worked on a number of other series, as varied as “Law & Order” and “Sex and the City.” He also lent his talents to films including “The Greatest Story Ever Told,” “The Great Escape,” “Mosquito Squadron,” “Billy Budd,” “Freud” and “A Night to Remember.”

When NBC aired its flashy, fun spy series “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” 50 years ago, it made quite an impression on viewers.

Aug. 8, 2015

Onstage, McCallum starred in productions of “Amadeus,” “The Lion in Winter,” “Julius Caesar” and other plays. He also was a writer whose debut novel, “Once a Crooked Man,” came out in 2016.

McCallum is survived by his wife of 56 years, Katherine McCallum, sons Paul McCallum, Valentine McCallum and Peter McCallum, daughter Sophie McCallum and eight grandchildren.

In a 2015 interview with the Los Angeles Times, McCallum revealed that he still watched the occasional episode of “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” on the classic TV channel MeTV.

“I have it recording,” McCallum said, noting that his castmates “all look so young” in the show.

“We all do.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.