David McCallum ‘knew the end’ was near, and what he did is absolutely heartbreaking

Veteran Actor's Touching Gesture Before Saying Goodbye

David McCallum, Tributes, Obituaries, Legacy, Acting

In a career spanning over six decades, David McCallum left an indelible mark on the entertainment industry. But as his twilight years approached, he knew the end was near, and what he did was simply heartbreaking.

McCallum’s career was legendary. He was best known for his role as Illya Kuryakin in “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.",” which captivated audiences worldwide. However, as age caught up with him, his health began to decline.

Rather than retire into seclusion, McCallum chose to spend his final days in an extremely selfless way. He devoted himself to philanthropy and passionately supported the causes that were important to him. His generosity extended to children’s hospitals, educational initiatives and mentoring young actors.

In a touching final act, McCallum worked on projects to preserve his legacy. He worked with filmmakers and writers to ensure that his contributions to film and television would endure.

David McCallum’s journey from a young Scottish actor to a Hollywood icon was characterized by talent, resilience and grace. His selflessness in his final moments left a lasting impression on those he touched, reminding us of the enduring power of the human spirit. David McCallum may have known the end was near, but his actions will forever be remembered as a heartfelt farewell to a true Hollywood legend.

What was David McCallum’s cause of death?

Gibbs, Ducky - NCIS

What was the cause of David McCallum’s death and how did NCIS‘ Ducky die in real life? McCallum died Monday morning, September 25, 2023, at New York Presbyterian Hospital in New York City, a representative for CBS confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter. He was 90 years old. McCallum died of natural causes, TV Line reports. He is survived by his wife, Katherine McCallum, to whom he was married for 56 years.

For over two decades, David McCallum captured the hearts of audiences worldwide playing the insightful, eccentric, and occasionally perplexing Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard," stated NCIS executive producers Seven D. Binder and David North in a press release to TV Line. "But as much as his admirers adored him, those who collaborated closely with David cherished him even more. He was a learned man and a true gentleman, consistently courteous, a consummate professional, and never one to miss an opportunity for a laugh. From the very beginning, it was a privilege to work with him and he consistently delivered exceptional performances. He was, simply put, an icon. He was also part of our NCIS family and will be profoundly missed."

A CBS spokesperson echoed the sentiment in a statement, saying, "We are deeply saddened by the passing of David McCallum and honored that CBS was his creative home for so many years. David was a talented actor and writer, and cherished by many around the world. He lived a remarkable life, and his contributions will continue to inspire future generations through his family and the countless hours of film and television that will endure. We will miss his warmth and captivating sense of humor that brightened any room or set he entered, as well as the fascinating stories he often shared from his rich life. Our deepest condolences go out to his wife Katherine and his entire family, and all those who knew and loved David."

One of McCallum's four children, Peter, described his father in a statement to TV Line as the "most gentle, awesome, patient, and loving dad" and a "true scholar of many subjects" for his work as Ducky on NCIS. "He was a real all-rounder - he was captivated by science and the arts and would turn those interests into knowledge. For instance, he could lead a symphony orchestra and - if necessary - could actually perform an autopsy, based on his years of studying for his role on NCIS," Peter said.

Peter went on, "After returning from the hospital to their home, I asked my mother if she was alright before she went to bed. Her response was simply, 'Yes. But I do wish we had had a chance to live a long life together.' She is 78, and Dad had just reached 90. The honesty in that feeling shows how energetic their wonderful relationship and daily lives were, and that somehow, even at 90, Dad never seemed old."

In a 20th-anniversary interview collection of NCIS published by The Hollywood Reporter in September 2023, director James Whitmore Jr. remembered casting McCallum as Ducky in 2003. “The studio said, 'Absolutely not, we're not putting this veteran character actor in the role.' And [NCIS co-creator] Don [Bellisario] said, 'If you don't, we're not making the show.' He was that serious about it. The studio went along with it, and of course, David McCallum is gold," he said.

After McCallum’s death, a 20th anniversary-themed NCIS marathon aired on CBS with an “in memoriam” card in honor of McCallum.

Following McCallum's passing, a 20th-anniversary-themed NCIS marathon aired on CBS with an "in memoriam" card honoring McCallum.

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