David McCallum, the ‘NCIS’ medical examiner, has died: he was 90 years old

He played the enigmatic US secret agent of Russian origin Illya Kuryakin in the TV series ‘U.N.C.L.E.’

The Scottish actor David McCallum, who played the enigmatic American secret agent of Russian origin Illya Kuryakin in the TV series ‘U.N.C.L.E.’ and the medical examiner Donald ‘Ducky’ Mallard in the TV series ‘Ncis: New Orleans’ and ‘Ncis – Anti-Crime Unit ‘, died on Monday, September 25 at the age of 90 of natural causes at Presbyterian Hospital in New York. The announcement of his passing was given by the family who was at his bedside at the time of his death.

McCallum also starred alongside Joanna Lumley for four seasons in the British science fiction series “Zephyr and Steel” (1979-82; she was Zephyr, he was Steel) – regarded as a precursor to “The X-Files” – and played a British prisoner of war in the acclaimed drama “Colditz” (1972-74).

McCallum was married to British actress Jill Ireland from May 1957 until she left him for actor Charles Bronson a decade later. McCallum quickly remarried model Katherine Carpenter in 1967, his wife of 56 years who survives him.

The actor has starred in over 450 episodes of “NCIS” since 2003, in all 20 seasons, as the eccentric doctor Ducky Mallard, an autopsy expert with a bow tie and a degree in psychology from the University of Edinburgh . Baby boomers remember McCallum thanks to his four-season stint as Kuryakin on “U.N.C.L.E.,” which aired from 1964 to 1968. He received a pair of Emmy nominations for playing the intellectual, introverted spy.

David Keith McCallum Jr. was born in Glasgow, Scotland, on September 19, 1933. His mother, Dorothy, was a cellist and his father a violinist and conductor. In 1936 the family moved to the British capital when his father was hired to conduct the London Philharmonic Orchestra. He studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London (Joan Collins was a classmate) and appeared with the Oxford Repertory Group.

McCallum first met actress Jill Ireland when they both starred in “Hell Riders” (1957) and married seven days later. They also worked together in “The Big Heist” (1957) and “Criminal-Sexy” (1960) and in five episodes of “U.N.C.L.E.” In Steve McQueen’s classic film “The Great Escape” (1963) McCallum played Eric Ashley-Pitt, the naval officer nicknamed “Dispersal” for how he devised a way to get rid of the dirt that had been excavated from the escape tunnel of the prisoners.

McCallum also appeared on the big screen in the films “Titanic, Latitude 41 North”, “Freud: Secret Passions” (1962) by John Huston (1962), “Billy Budd” (1962), “Conquerors of the Abyss” (1966) , “The Spy in the Green Hat” (1967), “Three Bites of the Apple” (1967), “Cornered” (1968), “The Red Hawk Squadron” (1969) and “Cherry” (1999) .

On television he played the role of Dr. Daniel Westin, a crime-fighting government agent, in “The Invisible Man” (1975-76). He appeared in the episodes “Heartbeat”, “The Mystery Hour”, “The A-Team”, “Matlock”, “Mermaid Murder”, and “Law & Order: The Two Faces of Justice”.