RIP: David McCallum

David McCallum died yesterday at the age of 90.

David McCallum’s parents were professional musicians. For a while it appeared that David might follow in their footsteps.  He studied music for a short time.  After serving in the British Army’s 3rd Battalion (he was born in Glasgow, Scotland), Mr. McCallum attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London.

David McCallum had been getting roles in both television and feature films when his breakout role came. He was cast as Russian agent Illya Kuryakin in The Man from U.N.C.L.E.. Although the show was conceived as a showcase for Robert Vaughn to play a James Bond-like spy, the audience loved the chemistry between Vaughn and McCallum.  David McCallum was elevated from occasional guest to the show’s co-star.  Critics also loved Mr. McCallum in this role.  He was nominated for two Emmy awards during the series four year run.  The Man from U.N.C.L.E remained so popular that in 1983, David McCallum returned to the role for a television movie titled, The Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E..

David McCallum’s popularity was such that he released four record albums during the run of The Man from U.N.C.L.E..  Unlike many stars of the era, Mr. McCallum did not sing on his records.  Instead he wrote some of the compositions, conducted their arrangements and played various instruments as well.

After The Man from U.N.C.L.E ended Mr. McCallum continued to act on television and in feature films.  In 2003, he earned the role of Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard on the popular series NCIS.  He was a cast member until his death.

Some of David McCallum’s television appearances include: The Rose and the Ring (3 episodes); Our Mutual Friend (10 episodes); The Eustace Diamonds (6 episodes); Emma (5 episodes); Armchair Theater (2 episodes); The Travels of Jamie McPheeters; Perry Mason; The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (105 episodes); The Outer Limits (2 episodes); Please Don’t Eat the Daises; Night Gallery; Marcus Welby; The Six Million Dollar Man; Frankenstein: The True Story; Colditz (26 episodes); The Invisible Man (13 episodes); Kidnapped (13 episodes); Sapphire & Steel (34 episodes); Hart to Hart; The Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E.; As the World Turns; The A-Team; Matlock; Alfred Hitchcock Presents; The Return of Sam McCloud; Murder, She Wrote (2 episodes); Masterpiece Mysteries (3 episodes); Cluedo (6 episodes); Trainer (23 episodes); Law & Order; The Outer Limits; Sex and the City; The Education of Max Bickford (9 episodes); JAG (2 episodes); The Replacements (67 episodes); NCIS: New Orleans (2 episodes) and NCIS (457 episodes).

Some of David McCallum’s feature film appearances include: Hell Drivers; A Night to Remember; Billy Budd; The Great Escape; The Greatest Story Ever Told; The Spy with My Face; The Spy in the Green Hat and The Watcher in the Woods.

My favorite David McCallum role is on The Man from U.N.C.L.E..  Like all the kids my age, we thought he was the coolest.  The fact that Mr. McCallum was so popular playing a Russian spy at the height of the cold war is amazing.  I am also in awe of the fact that David McCallum was able to stay a working actor for decades. That is a testament to his acting ability.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to David McCallum’s family, friends and fans.