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David Keith McCallum, Jr. (born 19 September 1933) is a Scottish actor. He is best known for his roles as Illya Kuryakin, a Russian-born secret agent, in the 1960s television series The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard in the series NCIS.

Early life and career

McCallum was born in Glasgowmarker, the second of two sons of Dorothy Dorman, a cellist, and orchestral leader (principal first violinist) David McCallum, Sr. When he was ten, his family moved to London. He won a scholarship to University College School, a boys' independent school in Hampsteadmarker, London. He attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and became Assistant Stage Manager of the Glyndebourne Opera Company in 1951. He began his career as a bit-part actor in British films of the late 1950s and early 1960s.

A James Dean-themed photograph of McCallum caught the attention of the Rank Organisation, who signed him in 1957. Early roles included a juvenile delinquent in Violent Playground (1957) and an outlaw in Robbery Under Arms (1957). 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. Cmdr. Eric Ashley-Pitt "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.

Notable pre-U.N.C.L.E. television roles included parts in The Outer Limits and Perry Mason.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

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 with Vaughn's traditional appearance. McCallum's role as the mysterious Russian agent Illya Kuryakin was originally conceived as a peripheral one. However, McCallum 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 and McCallum's on-screen chemistry were quickly recognised 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. He was popularly referred to as 'the blond Beatle'. While playing Kuryakin, McCallum received more fan mail than any other actor in MGM's history. Hero worship even led to a record, "Love Ya, Illya," performed by Alma Cogan under the name Angela and the Fans ("I wish, I wish, I wish, I wish, I wish that Illya loved me"), 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 honor of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. character.

McCallum received two Emmy nominations in the course of the show's four-year run (1964-68) for playing the intellectual and introverted secret agent.

McCallum reprised the role of Kuryakin in a 1983 TV movie, The Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E.: The Fifteen Years Later Affair.

In an interview for a retrospective television special, David McCallum told of a visit to the White Housemarker during which, while he was being escorted to meet the President, a Secret Service agent told him "You're the reason I got this job."

Later career

Although McCallum became a familiar face on British television in shows such as Colditz (1972-1974), he never repeated the popular success he had gained as Kuryakin. His best-known other British TV roles have been in ITV's science-fiction series Sapphire & Steel (1979- 1982) opposite Joanna Lumley and as the lead in a mid-1970s remake of The Invisible Man.

McCallum appeared on stage in Australia in Run For Your Wife during 1987-1988 and the production toured the country. Other members of the cast were Jack Smethurst, Eric Sykes and Katy Manning.

In the 1990s McCallum guest starred in two U.S. television series: in the first season of the television series 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 Reefmarker; he also had a guest star role in one episode of Babylon 5.

In 1994, McCallum narrated the acclaimed documentaries Titanic: Death of a Dream and Titanic: The Legend Lives On for A&E Television 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 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: the series remains a critical and fan favourite. McCallum's distinctive voice is known for lending appropriately haunting atmospheres to many of the films in which he is involved.

TV series COLDITZ: Flight Lieutenant Simon Carter (David McCallum) - Flight Lieutenant Carter is a young, upstart, hot-headed RAF officer who enjoys goon-baiting and is very impatient to escape. He misses his young wife, Cathy, very much, and seeks to return to her. He finds himself frequently in solitary confinement. In the second season, he mellows a bit as he accepts the post of escape officer, and is tempered by that responsibility.


Since 2003 McCallum has starred in the CBS television series NCIS as Dr Donald "Ducky" Mallard, the Medical Examiner and one of the key characters. In an inside joke, when Agent Jethro Gibbs is asked, "What did Ducky look like when he was younger?," Gibbs responds, "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 appearing at Medical Examiner conventions. In the feature, Bellisario says that McCallum's knowledge became so vast that at the time of the interview he was considering making him a technical advisor on the show.

McCallum appeared at the 21st Annual James Earl Ash Lecture, held May 19, 2005 at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, an evening for honoring America's service members. His lecture, "Reel to Real Forensics," was with Cmdr. Craig T. Mallak, U.S. Armed Forces medical examiner, and 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.

Musical output

In the 1960s, McCallum recorded four albums for Capitol Recordsmarker with 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 most well 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."

McCallum did not sing on these records, as many television stars of the 60s did when offered recording contracts, but used the opportunity to make a different statement. As a classically trained musician, he conceived a blend of oboe, french 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, but McCallum conducted and contributed a few original compositions 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.

Personal life

He was married to actress Jill Ireland from 1957 to 1967. They had three sons: Paul, Jason - an adopted son who died from an accidental drug overdose in 1989 - and Valentine. He introduced Ireland to Charles Bronson when both were filming The Great Escape. A few years later, she left McCallum and married Bronson.

He has been married to Katherine Carpenter since 1967. They have a son, Peter, and a daughter, Sophie. David and Katherine McCallum are active with charitable organizations that support the United States Marine Corps: Katherine's father was a Marine who served in the Battle of Iwo Jimamarker, and her brother lost his life in the Vietnam War.

David and Katherine McCallum live in New York.



n.b. for credit listings reference

Man from U.N.C.L.E. films

Other films


External links

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