David McCallum ‘knew the end’ was near, and what he did is absolutely heartbreaking
In a career spanning over six decades, David McCallum left an indelible mark on the entertainment industry. But as the twilight of his life approached, he knew the end was near, and what he did was nothing short of heartbreaking.
McCallum’s career was legendary. Best known for his role as Illya Kuryakin in “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.,” he captivated audiences worldwide. However, as age caught up with him, his health began to decline.
Rather than retreating into seclusion, McCallum chose to spend his final days in a profoundly selfless way. He dedicated himself to philanthropy, passionately supporting causes that mattered to him. His generosity extended to children’s hospitals, education initiatives, and mentoring young actors.
In a touching final act, McCallum worked on projects to preserve his legacy. He collaborated 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 one of talent, resilience, and grace. His selflessness in his final moments left a lasting impact 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 from a true Hollywood legend.
What was David McCallum’s cause of death?
What was David McCallum’s cause of death and how did NCIS‘ Ducky die in real life? McCallum died on the morning of Monday, September 25, 2023, at New York Presbyterian Hospital in New York City, a CBS representative confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter. He was 90 years old. McCallum died of natural causes, according to TV Line. He’s survived by his wife of 56 years, Katherine McCallum.
“For over 20 years, David McCallum endeared himself to audiences around the world playing the wise, quirky, and sometimes enigmatic, Dr. Donald ‘Ducky’ Mallard,” said NCIS producers Seven D. Binder and David North said in a statement to TV Line. “But as much as his fans may have loved him, those who worked side by side with David loved him that much more. He was a scholar and a gentleman, always gracious, a consummate professional, and never one to pass up a joke. 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.”
A spokesperson for CBS added 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. 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.”
Peter McCallum, one of McCallum’s four children, called his dad “the kindest, coolest, most patient and loving father” and a “true renaissance man” for his work as Ducky on NCIS in a statement to TV Line. “He was a true renaissance man — 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,” Peter said.
Peter continued, “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.’ 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.”
In a 20th anniversary oral history of NCIS published by The Hollywood Reporter in September 2023, director James Whitmore Jr. recalled casting McCallum as ducky in 2003. “The studio said, ‘No way, we’re not casting this old character actor in the role.’ And [NCIS co-creator] Don [Bellisario] said, ‘If you don’t, we’re not doing the show.’ He was that serious about it. The studio went 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.