Renowned British actor David McCallum, famous for his roles in the 1960s hit series “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” and later as a medical examiner on “NCIS,” has passed away at the age of 90, as reported by US media on Monday.
Surrounded by his family, McCallum breathed his last at a hospital in New York, according to CBS. His son, Peter McCallum, fondly remembered him as a kind, cool, and loving father who prioritized family above all else. Peter shared that his father was a true renaissance man, deeply intrigued by science and culture, often turning these passions into a wealth of knowledge. Notably, McCallum’s role on “NCIS” led him to study extensively, enabling him to conduct a symphony orchestra and even perform autopsies if required.
After honing his craft at the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, McCallum made a notable appearance in the 1963 war epic “The Great Escape,” alongside an ensemble cast featuring Steve McQueen, James Garner, Charles Bronson, and Donald Pleasence.
However, it was his casting in 1964 as the enigmatic Russian agent Illya Kuryakin in “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.,” opposite Robert Vaughn’s Napoleon Solo, that solidified his fame. With his distinctive blond hair and stylish turtleneck sweaters, McCallum became a heartthrob during the Beatles era. The New York Times even reported an incident in 1965 when he was mobbed by students in Louisiana.
Although “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” had a relatively short run of four years, the character of Illya Kuryakin remained an enduring part of McCallum’s identity. He once remarked in 1998, “It’s been 30 years, but I can’t escape him. Illya Kuryakin is there 24 hours a day.”