Famous actor, author, and musician David McCallum dead at age 90

September 26, 2023
Ben Marquis

A beloved actor, author, and musician who made an impact on multiple generations with different aspects of his contributions to the arts and entertainment industry has passed away.

David McCallum, who rose to stardom in the 1960s with his role in "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." and more recently was a popular character on the hit CBS TV show "NCIS," died on Monday at the age of 90, according to the Associated Press.

The news was first shared by CBS, which noted that McCallum passed away peacefully from natural causes while surrounded by his family at a New York City hospital.

A prolific actor for TV, in film, and on stage

McCallum was born in 1933 in Glasgow, Scotland, to a pair of musician parents, and was himself raised as a would-be musician in London, though he soon realized that the theater, and not music, was his true calling in life.

Following a brief stint of military service, McCallum began to pursue his career as an actor in the 1950s, though he did occasionally star in theatrical productions both on and off-Broadway over the decades, and his talent allowed him to play a wide variety of roles on TV and in films.

Indeed, per McCallum's IMDb page, he is credited with 131 acting appearances dating from 1953 through 2023, with the most notable being the 105 episodes of "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." he appeared in as Russian spy Ilya Kuryakin from 1964-1968. More recently, he portrayed the beloved character Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard on "NCIS" in 457 episodes between 2003-2023.

Those two shows aside, McCallum also appeared in dozens of other shows on both American and British television as well as dozens of movies, and even did a substantial amount of voiceover work for animated shows, films, and video games.

"A true Renaissance man"

People magazine reported that 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," the network added. "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."

A statement about McCallum's family was also released by his family through his son Peter, who said, "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 was a true renaissance man -- he was fascinated by science and culture and would turn those passions into knowledge," the grieving son added. "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.'"

Per the AP, McCallum married actress Jill Ireland in 1957, though they were divorced 10 years later after having three sons -- Paul, Jason, and Valentine. He would go on to marry former model Katherine Carpenter, with whom he would stay wed for 56 years, according to People, and with whom he had another son and a daughter -- Peter and Sophie -- and is survived by Katherine, four of his five children, and eight grandchildren.

Famously sampled by Dr. Dre for a hip-hop mega-hit

Interestingly enough, while McCallum was mostly known for his acting, he did dabble in making music throughout his life and actually made a massive contribution to hip-hop music in the form of a piece he composed that was sampled decades later by popular rapper and producer Dr. Dre for one of his biggest hits, according to Rolling Stone.

That piece, an instrumental song titled "The Edge" from a 1967 album, would later become the instantly recognizable opening and background music for Dre's "The Next Episode" hip-hop classic featuring fellow Death Row Records rappers Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg, and Kurupt.

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