David McCallum: Scottish actor (1933 - 2023) | Biography, Filmography, Discography, Facts, Information, Career, Wiki, Life
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David McCallum
Scottish actor

David McCallum

David McCallum
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro Scottish actor
Was Actor Television actor Film actor Stage actor Musician
From United Kingdom United States of America Scotland
Field Film, TV, Stage & Radio Music
Gender male
Birth 19 September 1933, Glasgow, Glasgow City, Scotland, United Kingdom
Death 25 September 2023, NewYork–Presbyterian Hospital, Manhattan, New York City, USA (aged 90 years)
Star sign Virgo
Father: David McCallum Sr.
Spouse: Jill Ireland (1957-1967) Katherine Carpenter (16 September 1967-25 September 2023)
Children: Val McCallum
Height: 1.7145 m
University College School
David McCallum
The details (from wikipedia)


David Keith McCallum (19 September 1933 – 25 September 2023) was a Scottish actor and musician. He gained wide recognition in the 1960s for playing secret agent Illya Kuryakin in the television series The Man from U.N.C.L.E. His other notable television roles include Carter in Colditz (1972–1974) and Steel in Sapphire & Steel (1979–1982). Beginning in 2003, McCallum gained renewed international popularity for his role as NCIS medical examiner Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard in the American television series NCIS. On film, McCallum notably appeared in The Great Escape (1963).

Early life

David Keith McCallum was born on 19 September 1933 in Glasgow, the second of two sons of orchestral violinist David McCallum Sr. and Dorothy (née Dorman), a cellist. When he was three, his family moved to London for his father to play as the leader of the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Early in the Second World War, he was evacuated back to Scotland, where he lived with his mother at Gartocharn by Loch Lomond.

McCallum won a scholarship to University College School, a boys' independent school in Hampstead, London, where, encouraged by his parents to prepare for a career in music, he played the oboe. In 1946, at the age of 13, he began doing boy voices for the BBC radio repertory company. Also involved in local amateur drama, at age 17, he appeared as Oberon in an open-air production of A Midsummer Night's Dream with the Play and Pageant Union. He left school at age 18 and was conscripted for National Service. He joined the British Army's 3rd Battalion the Middlesex Regiment, which was seconded to the Royal West African Frontier Force. In March 1954 he was promoted to lieutenant. After leaving the army he attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (also in London), where Joan Collins was a classmate.


In 1951, McCallum became assistant stage manager of the Glyndebourne Opera Company. He began his acting career doing boy voices for BBC Radio in 1947 and taking bit parts in British films from the late 1950s. His first acting role was in Whom the Gods Love, Die Young playing a doomed royal. A James Dean-themed photograph of McCallum caught the attention of the Rank Organisation, who signed him in 1956. However, in an interview with Alan Titchmarsh broadcast on 3 November 2010, McCallum stated that he had actually held his Equity card since 1946.

Early roles included an outlaw in Robbery Under Arms, (1957) junior RMS Titanic radio operator Harold Bride in A Night to Remember (1958), and a juvenile delinquent in Violent Playground (1958). His first American film was Freud: The Secret Passion (1962), directed by John Huston, which was shortly followed by a role in Peter Ustinov's Billy Budd. McCallum played Lt. Cmdr. Eric Ashley-Pitt (a.k.a., "Dispersal") in The Great Escape, which was released in 1963. He took the role of Judas Iscariot in 1965's The Greatest Story Ever Told. Other television roles included two appearances on The Outer Limits and a guest appearance on Perry Mason in 1964 as defendant Phillipe Bertain in "The Case of the Fifty Millionth Frenchman".

The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

David McCallum
McCallum as Illya Kuryakin

The Man from U.N.C.L.E., intended as a vehicle for Robert Vaughn, made McCallum into a sex symbol, his Beatle-style blond haircut providing a trendy contrast to Vaughn's clean-cut appearance. McCallum's role as the mysterious Russian agent Illya Kuryakin was originally conceived as a peripheral one. McCallum, however, took the opportunity to construct a complex character whose appeal rested largely in what was shadowy and enigmatic about him. Kuryakin's popularity with the audience as well as Vaughn and McCallum's on-screen chemistry were quickly recognized by the producers, and McCallum was elevated to co-star status.

Although the show aired at the height of the Cold War, McCallum's Russian alter ego became a pop culture phenomenon. The actor was inundated with fan letters, and a Beatles-like frenzy followed him everywhere he went. While playing Kuryakin, McCallum received more fan mail than any other actor in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's history, including such popular MGM stars as Clark Gable, Robert Taylor and Elvis Presley. Hero worship even led to a record, "Love Ya, Illya", performed by Alma Cogan under the name Angela and the Fans, which was a pirate radio hit in Britain in 1966. A 1990s rock-rap group from Argentina named itself Illya Kuryaki and the Valderramas in honour of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. character.

McCallum received two Emmy Award nominations in the course of the show's four-year run (1964–'68) for playing the intellectual and introverted secret agent.

McCallum and Vaughn reprised their roles of Kuryakin and Solo in a 1983 TV film, Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E.. In 1986 McCallum reunited with Vaughn again in an episode of The A-Team entitled "The Say U.N.C.L.E. Affair", complete with "chapter titles", the word "affair" in the title, the phrase "Open Channel D", and similar scene transitions.

In an interview for a retrospective television special, McCallum recounted a visit to the White House during which, while he was being escorted to meet the U.S. president, a Secret Service agent told him, "You're the reason I got this job."

After The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

David McCallum
McCallum in 1969

McCallum never quite repeated the popular success he had gained as Kuryakin until NCIS, though he did become a familiar face on British television in such shows as Colditz (1972–74), Kidnapped [de] (1978), and ITV's science-fiction series Sapphire & Steel (1979–82) opposite Joanna Lumley. In 1975 he played the title character in a short-lived U.S. version of The Invisible Man.

McCallum appeared on stage in Australia in Run for Your Wife (1987–'88), and the production toured the country. Other members of the cast were Jack Smethurst, Eric Sykes and Katy Manning.

McCallum played supporting parts in a number of feature films, and he played the title role in the 1968 thriller, Sol Madrid.

McCallum starred with Diana Rigg in the 1989 TV miniseries Mother Love. In 1991 and 1992 McCallum played gambler John Grey, one of the principal characters in the television series Trainer. He appeared as an English literature teacher in a 1989 episode of Murder, She Wrote. In the 1990s McCallum guest-starred in two U.S. television series. In season 1 of seaQuest DSV, he appeared as the law-enforcement officer Frank Cobb of the fictional Broken Ridge of the Ausland Confederation, an underwater mining camp off the coast of Australia by the Great Barrier Reef; he also had a guest-star role in one episode of Babylon 5 as Dr. Vance Hendricks in the Season 1 episode Infection.

In 1994, McCallum narrated the acclaimed documentaries Titanic: The Complete Story for A&E Networks. This was the second project about the Titanic on which he had worked: the first was the 1958 film A Night to Remember, in which he had had a small role.

In the same year McCallum hosted and narrated the TV special Ancient Prophecies. This special, which was followed soon after by three others, told of people and places historically associated with foretelling the end of the world and the beginnings of new eras for mankind.


David McCallum
McCallum in October 2012

Beginning in 2003, McCallum starred in the CBS television series NCIS as Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard, the team's chief medical examiner and one of the show's most popular characters. In Season 2 Episode 13 "The Meat Puzzle", NCIS Special Agent Caitlin Todd (Sasha Alexander) asks Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon), "What did Ducky look like when he was younger?" and Gibbs replies, "Illya Kuryakin".

According to the behind-the-scenes feature on the 2006 DVD of NCIS season 1, McCallum became an expert in forensics to play Mallard, including attending medical examiner conventions. In the feature, Donald P. Bellisario says that McCallum's knowledge became so vast that at the time of the interview he was considering making him a technical adviser on the show.

McCallum appeared at the 21st Annual James Earl Ash Lecture, held 19 May 2005 at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, an evening for honouring America's service members. His lecture, "Reel to Real Forensics", with Cmdr. Craig T. Mallak, U.S. Armed Forces medical examiner, featured a presentation comparing the real-life work of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner staff with that of the fictional naval investigators appearing on NCIS.

In late April 2012, it was announced that McCallum had reached an agreement on a two-year contract extension with CBS-TV. The move meant that he would remain an NCIS regular past his eightieth birthday. In May 2014 he signed another two-year contract. He signed an extension in 2016, beginning a limited schedule in 2017 and since then renewed his contract for each season separately.

With series lead Mark Harmon's departure from the show in the fall of 2021 (Season 19), McCallum became the last remaining member of the original NCIS cast until his death in 2023.


In the 1960s, McCallum recorded four albums for Capitol Records with music producer David Axelrod: Music...A Part of Me (Capitol ST 2432, 1966), Music...A Bit More of Me (Capitol ST 2498, 1966), Music...It's Happening Now! (Capitol ST 2651, 1967), and McCallum (Capitol ST 2748, 1968). The best known of his pieces today is "The Edge", which was sampled by Dr. Dre as the intro and riff to the track "The Next Episode". McCallum's version of "The Edge" appears on the soundtracks to the 2008 video game Grand Theft Auto IV and the 2017 film Baby Driver.

McCallum did not sing on these records, as many television stars of the 1960s did when offered recording contracts. As a classically trained musician, he conceived a blend of oboe, cor anglais and strings with guitar and drums, and presented instrumental interpretations of hits of the day. The official arranger on the albums was H.B. Barnum. However, McCallum conducted, and contributed several original compositions of his own, over the course of four LPs. The first two, Music...A Part of Me and Music...A Bit More of Me, have been issued together on CD on the Zonophone label. On Open Channel D, McCallum did sing on the first four tracks, "Communication", "House on Breckenridge Lane", "In the Garden, Under the Tree" (the theme song from the film Three Bites of the Apple) and "My Carousel". The music tracks are the same as the Zonophone CD. This CD was released on the Rev-Ola label. The single release of "Communication" reached No. 32 in the UK Singles Chart in April 1966.

In The Man from U.N.C.L.E. episode "The Discotheque Affair", McCallum plays the double bass as part of a band in a night club. He also played guitar and sang his own composition, "Trouble", with Nancy Sinatra on "The Take Me to Your Leader Affair", and played several instruments in "The Off-Broadway Affair".

In the 1970s, McCallum also recorded three H. P. Lovecraft tales for Caedmon Records, an imprint of August Derleth's Arkham House publishing venture: "The Rats in the Walls" (TC 1347, 1973); "The Dunwich Horror" ("slightly abridged"; TC 1467, 1976); and "The Haunter of the Dark" (TC 1617, 1979).


In 2016, McCallum published a crime novel entitled Once a Crooked Man. The narrative is set in New York and London and centres on a young actor who tries to foil a murder. McCallum stated that a second novel was in progress.

Personal life

David McCallum
McCallum in 2015

On 11 May 1957, McCallum married actress Jill Ireland in London. The couple met during the production of the film Hell Drivers. The marriage lasted ten years. After leaving McCallum, Ireland married Charles Bronson, to whom McCallum had introduced her while McCallum and Bronson were filming The Great Escape (1963). McCallum and Ireland had three sons: Paul, Jason, and Valentine (Val). Jason, who was adopted, died from an accidental drug overdose in 1989. Val McCallum is a guitar player, playing on and off with Jackson Browne since 2002, Lucinda Williams from 2011 to 2016, and many others. He was a member of the faux country band Jackshit.

In 1967, McCallum married Katherine Carpenter. They had a son, Peter, and a daughter, Sophie. McCallum and his wife were active in charitable organisations that support the United States Marine Corps: Katherine's father was a Marine who served in the Battle of Iwo Jima and her brother was killed in the Vietnam War. On 27 August 1999, McCallum was naturalized as a United States citizen. McCallum had six grandchildren. He was friends with Tibor Rubin.


McCallum died at the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City on 25 September 2023, a week after his 90th birthday.



Year Title Role Notes
1957 Ill Met by Moonlight Sailor
  • Film debut
  • Uncredited
  • Also known as Night Ambush
These Dangerous Years Also known as Dangerous Youth
Robbery Under Arms Jim Marston British Crime film
Hell Drivers Jimmy Yately Directed by Cy Endfield
The Secret Place Mike Wilson Directorial debut of Clive Donner
1958 A Night to Remember Harold Bride British drama about the sinking of RMS Titanic
Violent Playground Johnnie Murphy Directed by Basil Dearden
1961 The Long and the Short and the Tall Private Samuel "Sammy" Whitaker Released as Jungle Fighters in the US and Canada
Jungle Street Terry Collins Later retitled Jungle Street Girls
1962 Freud: The Secret Passion Carl von Schlossen Also known as Freud
Billy Budd Steven Wyatt CinemaScope film produced, directed, and co-written by Peter Ustinov
1963 The Great Escape Lt. Cmdr. Eric Ashley-Pitt, "Dispersal" Based on an escape by British and Commonwealth prisoners of war from a German POW camp during the Second World War
1964 To Trap a Spy Illya Kuryakin A Man from U.N.C.L.E. film
1965 The Spy with My Face
The Greatest Story Ever Told Judas Iscariot Retelling of the story of Jesus, from the Nativity through the Resurrection
1966 One Spy Too Many Illya Kuryakin A Man from U.N.C.L.E. film
The Spy in the Green Hat
Around the World Under the Sea Dr. Philip Volker
The Big T.N.T. Show Master of Ceremonies, conducting the orchestra "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" (instrumental)
One of Our Spies Is Missing Illya Kuryakin A Man from U.N.C.L.E. film
1967 The Karate Killers
Three Bites of the Apple Stanley Thrumm
1968 The Helicopter Spies Illya Kuryakin A Man from U.N.C.L.E. film
Sol Madrid Sol Madrid Released in the UK as The Heroin Gang
How to Steal the World Illya Kuryakin A Man From U.N.C.L.E. film
1969 Mosquito Squadron Squadron Leader Quint Monroe, RCAF British war film
The Ravine Sergeant Stephen Holmann Italian-Yugoslav-American war film
Rascal Ice Cream Man
  • Comedy drama film adaption made by Walt Disney Productions
  • Based on a book Rascal by Sterling North
1972 She Waits Mark Wilson Horror film
Night of the Lepus Police Officer
1975 The Kingfisher Caper Benedict Van Der Byl Released as Diamond Hunters in South Africa and as Diamond Lust on video
1976 Dogs Harlan Thompson
1977 King Solomon's Treasure Sir Henry Curtis British-Canadian low-budget film based on the novel King Solomon's Mines
1980 The Watcher in the Woods Paul Curtis
  • American family fantasy thriller film
  • Based on the 1976 novel by Florence Engel Randall
1985 Terminal Choice Dr. Giles Dodson
1986 The Wind John Released in 1987 in the USA
1990 The Haunting of Morella Gideon Set in colonial America
1991 Hear My Song Jim Abbott
1993 Fatal Inheritance Brandon Murphy
Dirty Weekend Reggie Based on the novel of the same name by Helen Zahavi
1994 Healer The Jackal
1999 Cherry Mammy
2008 Batman: Gotham Knight Alfred Pennyworth Voice, direct-to-video
2009 Wonder Woman Zeus
2014 Son of Batman Alfred Pennyworth
2015 Batman vs. Robin


Year Title Role Notes
1959 Anouilh's Antigone Haemon
1961 Sir Francis Drake Lord Oakshott Episode: "The English Dragon"
1963 The Outer Limits Gwyllm Griffiths Episode: "The Sixth Finger"
1964 The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters Prophet Episode: "The Day Of The Search"
Perry Mason Phillipe Bertain Episode: "The Case of the Fifty-Millionth Frenchman"
The Great Adventure Captain Hanning 2 episodes:
  • "Kentucky's Bloody Ground"
  • "The Siege of Boonesborough"
The Outer Limits Tone Hobart Episode: "The Forms of Things Unknown"
Profiles in Courage John Adams Episode: "John Adams"
1964–1968 The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Illya Kuryakin Main cast
1965 Hullabaloo Host
  • Credited as Dave McCallum
  • Episode: "Show 21"
1966 Please Don't Eat the Daisies Illya Kuryakin Episode: "Say U.N.C.L.E."
1969 Hallmark Hall of Fame Hamilton Cade Episode: "Teacher, Teacher"
Hallmark Hall of Fame Kenneth Canfield Episode: "The File On Devlin"
1970 Hauser's Memory Hillel Mondoro
  • Science fiction television film
  • Screenplay by Adrian Spies was based on a 1968 novel of the same name which was a sequel to the novel Donovan's Brain.
1971 Night Gallery Dr. Joel Winter Episode: "The Phantom Farmhouse"
1971 The Man and the City Guest Episode: "Pipe Me A Loving Tune"
1972–1974 Colditz Simon Carter Main cast
1973 Frankenstein: The True Story Dr. Henry Clerval Television film
The Six Million Dollar Man Alexi Kaslov Episode: "Wine, Women and War"
1975–1976 The Invisible Man Daniel Westin 12 episodes; Main cast
1978 Kidnapped [de] Alan Breck Stewart Miniseries
1979–1982 Sapphire & Steel Steel Main cast
1982 Strike Force Roderick Howard Hadley III Episode: "Ice"
Hart to Hart Geoffrey Atterton Episode: "Hunted Harts"
1983 As the World Turns Maurice Vermeil Contract role
Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E. Illya Kuryakin Television film
1984 The Master Castile Episode: "Hostages"
1986 Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense Frank Lane Episode: "The Corvini Inheritance"
The A-Team Ivan Episode: "The Say U.N.C.L.E. Affair"
1987 Matlock Phil Dudley Episode: "The Billionaire"
1988 Alfred Hitchcock Presents Lieutenant Cavanaugh "Murder Party"
Monsters The Feverman Episode: "The Feverman"
The Man Who Lived at the Ritz Charlie Ritz Television film
1989 Murder, She Wrote Cyril Grantham Episode: "From Russia...With Blood"
Mother Love Sir Alexander "Alex" Vesey Main cast
McCloud Inspector Craig Television film titled The Return of Sam McCloud
1990 Murder, She Wrote Drew Garrison Episode: "Deadly Misunderstanding"
Boon Simon Bradleigh Episode: "The Belles of St. Godwalds"
Lucky Chances Bernard Dimes Miniseries
Father Dowling Mysteries Sir Robert Episode: "The Royal Mystery"
1991–1992 Trainer John Grey Main cast
1991 Cluedo Professor Plum Game show
1993 seaQuest DSV Frank Cobb Episode: "seaWest"
1994 Babylon 5 Dr. Vance Hendricks Episode: "Infection"
Titanic: The Complete Story Narrator
Heartbeat Cooper Episode: "Arms and the Man"
1994–1995 Scavengers Narrator Voiceover
1995 VR-5 Dr. Joseph Bloom Main cast
1996 Mr. & Mrs. Smith Ian Felton Episode: "The Impossible Mission"
1997 Law & Order Craig Holland Episode: "Past Imperfect"
The Outer Limits Joshua Hayward Episode: "Feasibility Study"
1997–1998 Team Knight Rider Mobius Main cast
1998 Coming Home Billy Fawcett TV serial
March in Windy City Daniel Paterson, Dimitri Petrovsky Television film
1999 Sex and the City Duncan Episode: "Shortcomings"
2000 Deadline Harry Hobbs Episode: "Lovers and Madmen"
2001–2002 The Education of Max Bickford Walter Thornhill Main cast
2002 Jeremiah Clarence Episode: "Things Left Unsaid"
2002–2003 Taboo Narrator 4 episodes:
  • "Evil Spirits"
  • "Bloodsports"
  • "Delicacies"
  • "Body Perfect"
2003 JAG Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard Episodes: "Ice Queen (1)", "Meltdown (2)"
2003–2023 NCIS Main cast Season 1–15
Recurring Role Season 16–20 (Credited for all episodes, even when not appearing)
2006–2009 The Replacements C.A.R. Voice, main cast
2008–2010 Ben 10: Alien Force Professor Paradox Voice, recurring role (4 episodes)
2009 Batman: The Brave and the Bold Merlin Voice, episode: "Day of the Dark Knight!"
2010–2012 Ben 10: Ultimate Alien Professor Paradox Voice, recurring role (3 episodes)
2013–2014 Ben 10: Omniverse Voice, recurring role (6 episodes)
2014, 2016 NCIS: New Orleans Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard 2 episodes
2019 D-Day at Pointe-du-Hoc Narrator (PBS documentary)

Video games

Year Title Role Notes
1996 Privateer 2: The Darkening Canera Captain
  • Appears in the opening full-motion video cinematic
2009 Ben 10: Alien Force - Vilgax Attacks Professor Paradox
2011 NCIS Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard, Narrator
2014 Diablo III: Reaper of Souls Grand Maester, King Rakkis


  • Music - A Part Of Me (Capitol Records, 1966)
  • Music: A Bit More Of Me (Capitol Records, 1967)
  • Music - It's Happening Now! (Capitol Records, 1967)
  • McCallum (Capitol Records, 1967)

Spoken word works

Authors of works appear after title:

  • Lassie Come-Home - Eric Knight (Caedmon Records, 1973)
  • The Rats In The Walls - H.P. Lovecraft (Caedmon Records, 1973)
  • An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge And The Damned Thing - Ambrose Bierce (Caedmon Records, 1973)
  • The Wind In The Willows - Kenneth Grahame (Caedmon Records, 1973)
  • The Dunwich Horror - H.P. Lovecraft (Caedmon Records, 1976)
  • The Haunter Of The Dark - H.P. Lovecraft (Caedmon Records, 1979)
  • With Carole Shelley: Five Tales From The Decameron - Giovanni Boccaccio (Caedmon Records, 1981)
The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 26 Sep 2023. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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