NCIS star David McCallum died on Monday, September 25, of natural causes. He was 90.
“He was the kindest, coolest, most patient and loving father. He always put family before self,” McCallum’s son Peter said in a statement on Monday via Variety, confirming his father’s passing. “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.”
McCallum — who made a name for himself in Hollywood playing Ashley-Pitt “Dispersal” in 1963’s The Great Escape — was described by his family as “a true renaissance man.” The actor went on to play Illya Kuryakin on The Man From U.N.C.L.E. from 1964 to 1968, earning two Emmy nominations before landing the role of Donald “Ducky” Mallard on NCIS in 2003.
“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,” the statement continued.
McCallum was surrounded by his loved ones at New York Presbyterian Hospital when he died, Deadline reported.
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“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,’” Peter said in the statement of his parents. “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.”
Callum is survived by his wife, Katherine McCallum, and their children: sons Paul and Peter and daughter Sophie. The former Sapphire & Steel actor’s legacy also lives on in his eight grandchildren.
The NCIS family, for its part, was quick to honor the late star, who had been part of the cast for all 20 seasons.
“We are deeply saddened by the passing of David McCallum and privileged that CBS was his home for so many years,” CBS and NCIS studio CBS Studios said in a joint statement on Monday. “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.”
Michael Weatherly, who played Anthony DiNozzo on the CBS drama from 2003 to 2019, penned a tribute to McCallum via Twitter.
“David McCallum made every moment count, in life and on set. Let’s raise a jug and celebrate a funny fantastic authentic man. I’ve only got 3 autographs. Connery, Tony Bennett and McCallum,” he wrote alongside a signed photo of the late actor. “I felt the same way as Steve McQueen in this picture from The Great Escape: Wow! It’s David McCallum! No one did it better. We were lucky to have him bring us Ducky. Let’s send all the love in the world to his beautiful family. Rest In Peace David.”
NCIS will commemorate McCallum’s time on the series during the upcoming 20th anniversary marathon of the show. The mini marathon, which airs on CBS on Monday at 8 p.m. ET., will now feature an “In memoriam” card for McCallum.