McCallum at the 8th Annual Marine Corps Historic Half (MCHH) in Fredericksburg, Virginia on 17 May 2015
David Keith McCallum Jr.
19 September 1933
|Alma mater||Royal Academy of Dramatic Art|
(m. 1957; div. 1967)
|Children||5, including Val McCallum|
|Parent(s)||David McCallum Sr.|
David Keith McCallum Jr. (born 19 September 1933) is a Scottish actor and musician. He first gained recognition in the 1960s for playing secret agent Illya Kuryakin in the television series The Man from U.N.C.L.E.. In recent years, McCallum has gained renewed international recognition and popularity for his role as NCIS medical examiner Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard in the American television series NCIS.
McCallum was born September 19, 1933, in Maryhill, 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 concertmaster in 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 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 began 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 a juvenile delinquent in Violent Playground (1957), an outlaw in Robbery Under Arms, (1957) and as junior RMS Titanic radio operator Harold Bride in A Night to Remember (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 Cdr 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., 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 and Vaughn's 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 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 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 Robert 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."
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 (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 played supporting parts in a number of feature films, although 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 a British double agent 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.
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.
Since 2003 McCallum has 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.
When agent Gibbs was asked what Ducky looked like when he was younger the reply was "Illya Kuryakin.'
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 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 has since signed extensions in 2016, beginning a limited schedule in 2017 and renewing the same for seasons 15, 16 & 17 - each one separately.
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", "M.I.A" by Missin' Linx, and "No Regrets" by Masta Ace. McCallum's version of "The Edge" appears on the soundtrack to 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, English horn 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 has stated that a second novel is in progress.
On 11 May 1957, McCallum married actress Jill Ireland in London. The couple had met during production of the film Hell Drivers. The marriage lasted 10 years. After leaving McCallum, Ireland married Charles Bronson, whom McCallum had introduced to 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 with Jackson Browne most recently in 2014 and is a member of the faux country band, Jackshit.
In 1967, McCallum married Katherine Carpenter. They have a son, Peter, and a daughter, Sophie. McCallum and his wife are 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 has six grandchildren. He was friends with Tibor Rubin.
|1957||Ill Met By Moonlight||Sailor|
|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||Iconic 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||A 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|
|1972||She Waits||Mark Wilson||Horror film|
|1972||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|
|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|
|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|
|1993||Dirty Weekend||Reggie||Based on the novel of the same name by Helen Zahavi|
|2008||Batman: Gotham Knight||Alfred Pennyworth (voice)||Direct-to-video|
|2009||Wonder Woman||Zeus (voice)|
|2014||Son of Batman||Alfred Pennyworth (voice)|
|2015||Batman vs. Robin|
|1961||Sir Francis Drake||Lord Oakshott||Episode: "The English Dragon" (S 1:Ep 6)|
|1963||The Outer Limits||Gwyllm Griffiths||Episode: "The Sixth Finger" (S 1:Ep 5)|
|1964||The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters||Prophet||Episode: "The Day Of The Search" (S 1:Ep 18)|
|Perry Mason||Phillipe Bertain||Episode: "The Case of the Fifty-Millionth Frenchman" (S 7:Ep 19)|
|The Great Adventure||Captain Hanning||Episodes: |
|The Outer Limits||Tone Hobart||Episode: "The Forms of Things Unknown" (S 1:Ep 32)|
|Profiles in Courage||John Adams||Episode: "John Adams" (S 1:Ep 7)|
|1964-1968||The Man from U.N.C.L.E.||Illya Kuryakin||Main cast|
|1966||Please Don't Eat the Daisies||Illya Kuryakin||Episode: "Say U.N.C.L.E." (S 1:Ep 18)|
|1969||Hallmark Hall of Fame||Hamilton Cade||Episode: "Teacher, Teacher" (S 18:Ep 3)|
|Hallmark Hall of Fame||Kenneth Canfield||Episode: "The File On Devlin" (S 19:Ep 1)|
|1970||Hauser's Memory||Hillel Mondoro|
|1971||Night Gallery||Dr. Joel Winter||Episode: "The Phantom Farmhouse" (S 2:Ep 16)|
|1971||The Man and the City||Guest||Episode: "Pipe Me A Loving Tune" (S 1:Ep 12)|
|1972-1974||Colditz||Simon Carter||Main cast|
|1973||Frankenstein: The True Story||Dr. Henry Clerval||Made for TV film|
|The Six Million Dollar Man||Alexi Kaslov||Episode: "Wine, Women and War" (S 1:Ep 3)|
|1975-1976||The Invisible Man||Daniel Westin||Main cast|
|1978||Kidnapped||Alan Breck Stewart||TV Miniseries|
|1979-1982||Sapphire & Steel||Steel||Main cast|
|1982||Strike Force||Roderick Howard Hadley III||Episode: "Ice" (S 1:Ep 9)|
|1983||As the World Turns||Maurice Vermeil||Contract role|
|Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E.||Illya Kuryakin||Made for TV film|
|1984||The Master||Castile||Episode: "Hostages" (S 1:Ep 4)|
|1986||Hart to Hart||Geoffrey Atterton||Episode: "Hunted Harts" (S 4:Ep 11)|
|Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense||Frank Lane||Episode: "The Corvini Inheritance" (S 1:Ep 10)|
|The A-Team||Ivan||Episode: "The Say U.N.C.L.E. Affair" (S 5:Ep 6)|
|1987||Matlock||Phil Dudley||Episode: "The Billionaire" (S 2:Ep 1)|
|1988||Alfred Hitchcock Presents||Lieutenant Cavanaugh||"Murder Party" (S 3:Ep 11)|
|Monsters||The Feverman||Episode: "The Feverman" (S 1:Ep 1 - "Pilot")|
|The Man Who Lived at the Ritz||Charlie Ritz||Made for TV film|
|1989||Murder, She Wrote||Cyril Grantham||Episode: "From Russia...With Blood" (S 5:Ep 14)|
|Mother Love||Sir Alexander "Alex" Vesey||Main cast|
|McCloud||Inspector Craig||Made-for-TV-film titled The Return of Sam McCloud|
|1990||Murder, She Wrote||Drew Garrison||Episode: "Deadly Misunderstanding" (S 7:Ep 2)|
|Boon||Simon Bradleigh||Episode: "The Belles of St. Godwalds" (S 6:Ep 4)|
|Lucky Chances||Bernard Dimes||TV miniseries|
|Father Dowling Mysteries||Sir Robert||Episode: "The Royal Mystery" (S 3:Ep 1)|
|1991-1992||Trainer||John Grey||Main cast|
|1991||Cluedo||Professor Plum||U. K. Game show|
|1993||seaQuest DSV||Frank Cobb||Episode: "seaWest" (S 1:Ep 11)|
|1994||Babylon 5||Dr. Vance Hendricks||Episode: "Infection" (S 1:Ep 4)|
|Titanic: The Complete Story||Narrator|
|Heartbeat||Cooper||Episode: "Arms and the Man" (S 4:Ep 10)|
|1995||VR-5||Dr. Joseph Bloom||Main cast|
|1996||Mr. & Mrs. Smith||Ian Felton||Episode: "The Impossible Mission" (S 1:Ep 11)|
|1997||Law & Order||Craig Holland||Episode: "Past Imperfect" (S 7:Ep 22)|
|The Outer Limits||Joshua Hayward||Episode: "Feasibility Study" (S 3:Ep 17)|
|1997-1998||Team Knight Rider||Mobius||Main cast|
|1998||Coming Home||(TV serial)||Billy Fawcett|
|March in Windy City||Daniel Paterson / Dimitri Petrovsky||Made for TV film|
|1999||Sex and the City||Duncan||Episode: "Shortcomings" (S 2:Ep 15)|
|2000||Deadline||Harry Hobbs||Episode: "Lovers and Madmen" (S 1:Ep 2)|
|2001-2002||The Education of Max Bickford||Walter Thornhill||Main cast|
|2002||Jeremiah||Clarence||Episode: "Things Left Unsaid" (S 1:Ep 19)|
|2003||JAG||Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard||Episodes: "Ice Queen (1)", "Meltdown (2)"|
|2006-2009||The Replacements||The voice of C.A.R.|
|2008-2010||Ben 10: Alien Force||Professor Paradox (voice)||Recurring role|
|2009||Batman: The Brave and the Bold||Merlin Ambrosius||Episode: "Day of the Dark Knight!" (S 1:Ep 5)|
|2010-2012||Ben 10: Ultimate Alien||Professor Paradox (voice)||Recurring role|
|2013-2014||Ben 10: Omniverse|
|2014, 2016||NCIS: New Orleans||Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard||Episodes: "Musician Heal Thyself" (S 1:Ep 1), "Sister City, Part II" (S 2:Ep 12)|
|2019||D-Day at Pointe-du-Hoc||Narrator (PBS documentary)|
|1996||Privateer 2: The Darkening||Captain of the Canera|
|2009||Ben 10: Alien Force - Vilgax Attacks||Professor Paradox|
|2011||NCIS Video Game||Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard|
|2014||Diablo III: Reaper of Souls||The Grand Maester / King Rakkis||His voice only appears in the Diablo III expansion DLC, Reaper of Souls.|