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In Memoriam…David McCallum

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To honor the recent passing of this Scottish actor and musician, we reflect on the life and career of David McCallum.

David Keith McCallum was born on September 19th, 1933 in Glasnow, United Kingdom.

His family, who came from a musical background, encouraged him to pursue music.  He learned to play the oboe and began doing voice work for the BBC at an early age.  At 17 he earned the role of Oberon at London’s famous Garden Stage Theatre (then known as the Play and Pagent Union) in an open air production of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

His early film work included playing the Titanic radio operator in 1958’s retelling of the Titanic disaster in  “A Night To Remember.”  He played Judas Iscariot in the biblical epic, “The Greatest Story Ever Told,” and got a role in “Freud: The Secret Passion,” under the guidance of legendary film director John Huston.

On the set of the 1957 film “Hell’s Drivers,” McCallum fell in love with cast member Jill Ireland and the two married.

Among his musical contributions include four records for Capitol Records in the 1960s.  Among his best known works includes a track called, “The Edge,” which was later sampled by Dr. Dre and can be heard on the video game, Grand Theft Auto IV.  He would go on to record many albums while playing a variety of instruments.

He also appeared on television in the early 1960 with a guest starring role on an episode of “Perry Mason” and appeared multiple times on “The Outer Limits.”

He became a household name to American TV audiences with his recurring role as a Russian agent on the hit 1960s drama, “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.”  Despite the anti-Soviet Union feelings of the time, McCallum’s character, with his “Beatle-like” haircut, instantly struck a chord with younger audience members in 1964, just as Beatlemania was making its way to the United States.  His performances were so well received that his role was elevated to be on par with established star Robert Vaugh for the show’s final three years on the air.

During the show’s run he would frequently play the guitar and also song a duet with Nancy Sinatra.  His then-wife Jill guest-starred on “U.N.C.L.E” on several episodes, but the two divorced before the show ended its run.

McCallum won two Emmy Awards for his performance on the program and reunited with Vaugh years later in the television film, “Return of the Man From U.N.C.L.E.”

His biggest role in the 1970s occurred when he headlined the British-Canadian film production of “King Solomon’s Treasure,” which was based on the novel King Solomon’s Mines.  The movie features other notable stars including Patrick McNee (“The Avengers,” “A View To A Kill”),  Britt Ekland (“The Man With The Golden Gun,” “The Night They Raided Minsky”) , and Wilfred Hyde-White (“My Fair Lady,” “Let’s Make Love.”)

In the 1980s and 90s, he continued to star in plays in different countries, he had small roles in film and also guest starred on a few television programs (most noticeably “Murder, She Wrote,” and  “Seaquest DSV”), as well as starring in a TV mini-series with Diana Rigg called “Mother Love.” He also recreated a role similar to the one he portrayed in “U.N.C.L.E” for one episode of the TV action show, “The A-Team.”

Contemporary television viewers knew him best as Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard on the hit forensic science program, “NCIS.”  After recently completing its 19th season this summer, McCallum was the only original cast member still starring on the program.

On September 15th of this year, David died of natural causes in a New York City hospital.  He had recently celebrated his 90th birthday.

In further tribute to this great actor and musician, the Astound TV Network will show McCallum in his starring role of “King Solomon’s Treasure,” this Thursday at 9 am.

To view the complete rundown of classic programming on the Astound TV Network, check out the weekly listings here on our website.


The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Astound Broadband or any other agency, organization, employer or company.