McCallum is survived by his wife of 56 years, Katherine, as well as his four children and his eight grandchildren.
Born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1933 to two professional orchestral musicians, McCallum studied at the Royal Academy of Music, and later attended Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts after receiving praise for his performance in a local production of King John. McCallum's breakout role was on the espionage series The Man From U.N.C.L.E., in which he played the Russian secret agent Illya Kuryakin, the partner of Robert Vaughn's American Napoleon Solo.
John Paul Filo/CBS David McCallum
McCallum went on to appear in films such as The Great Escape, The Greatest Story Ever Told, Freud, and A Night to Remember. He appeared in episodes of numerous popular TV shows, including Sex and the City, Law & Order, and The Outer Limits, and also became a prolific voice actor, lending his talents to series like Ben 10 and The Replacements as well as dozens of audiobooks.
The actor's biggest role in his later years came in NCIS, in which he played the cast's beloved father figure Chief Medical Examiner Donald "Ducky" Mallard. McCallum appeared in 457 episodes of the series, which has run for 20 seasons to date.
McCallum also recorded four albums in the 1960s, one of which included the song "The Edge," which Dr. Dre sampled to create the iconic opening of "The Next Episode." The actor also published a novel in 2016, titled Once a Crooked Man.
"For over twenty years, David McCallum endeared himself to audiences around the world playing the wise, quirky, and sometimes enigmatic, Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard," NCIS executive producers Steven D. Binder and David North said in a statement. "But as much as his fans may have loved him, those who worked side by side with David loved him that much more. He was a scholar and a gentleman, always gracious, a consummate professional, and never one to pass up a joke. From day one, it was an honor to work with him and he never let us down. He was, quite simply, a legend. He was also family and will be deeply missed."
"He was the kindest, coolest, most patient and loving father," the actor's son Peter McCallum said in a statement on behalf of the family. "He always put family before self. He looked forward to any chance to connect with his grandchildren, and had a unique bond with each of them. He and his youngest grandson, Whit, 9, could often be found in the corner of a room at family parties having deep philosophical conversations."
"He was a true renaissance man—he was fascinated by science and culture and would turn those passions into knowledge," Peter McCallum continued. "For example, he was capable of conducting a symphony orchestra and (if needed) could actually perform an autopsy, based on his decades-long studies for his role on NCIS."
A previously announced 20th anniversary marathon of NCIS on Monday will now feature an "In Memoriam" card to honor the actor.