(David) McCallum #atozchallenge


David McCallum (source: http://posterandphoto.blogspot.com/2013/03/david-mccallum-photos.html)

First time I remember seeing David McCallum was as Ilya Kuryakin on the Sixties TV series The Man From UNCLE. Kuryakin was the action hero, while Napoleon Solo (played by Robert Vaughan) was the suave and debonair one that always got the girls. Which is interesting, because if you asked any of my female classmates, it was Ilya they wanted. Maybe it was the Glaswegian brogue made to sound like he was from Russia, or the blond hair and blue eyes, or maybe it was that he never seemed to get the girl. Whatever the case, they dug him, to use an expression from the time.

McCallum had already built an impressive resumé in TV and film before he took on THRUSH as an operative for the United Network Command for Law & Enforcement. Most important in his pre-UNCLE days was his role as Ashley-Pitt in 1963’s The Great Escape. It was on the set of that movie that spelled the beginning of the end for his marriage to Jill Ireland: he introduced her to Charles Bronson, who later told David that he was going to take his wife from him. And he did.

David was a junior: his father was first violinist for the London Philharmonic, while his mother, Dorothy Dorman, was a cellist with the orchestra. David studied oboe with an eye toward following in his parents’ footsteps, but left the Royal Academy of Music after a brief stay and finished his education at The Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts.

Since 2003, he has played the role of Donald “Ducky” Mallard, MD, on the hit TV series NCIS. The writers of that series have made the character a highly intelligent and perceptive pathologist who talks to his “patients” and has a tendency to be loquacious. Recently, the character took a sabbatical from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service to teach at his alma mater back in Scotland. No doubt McCallum needed the break: at 84 years young and with 65 years’ experience in front of the camera, he’s bound to be a little tired.

One of my favorite lines from NCIS was in one of the early shows, when Special Agent Kate Todd (played by Sasha Alexander) asked her boss, Special Agent Jethro Gibbs (played by Mark Harmon) what Ducky looked like when he was younger. Without missing a beat, Gibbs replied, “Ilya Kuryakin.”


Author: John Holton

I'm a writer and blogger who writes and blogs about things that interest me.

37 thoughts on “(David) McCallum #atozchallenge”

    1. I think there’s something about him that still appeals to those of us that grew up watching “Man from UNCLE” in the Sixties. He’s been in a couple of shows I’ve liked since then, and they always seem better for him being in them. Mary and I really like him in his current role on “NCIS.”


  1. I was a big fan of Man from U.N.C.L.E. and McCallum was my favorite on the show. I was surprised to see him on NCIS recently. I’d never watched the show, but I got stuck binge watching it when I took a friend to the V.A. hospital and sat for a few hours in the waiting room watching the tube. The channel they had on was playing one episode after another of NCIS. Not a bad show, but not enough for me to watch it at home. My sister has it playing a lot at her house.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out


    1. Ion does that a lot, runs back-to-back episodes of some show all day, but I’ve never seen NCIS on that. USA Network had the rights to NCIS and would run them all weekend a couple of times a year. Decades will do that, too, pick a show and run it all day Saturday and Sunday. This week it’s “77 Sunset Strip”…


  2. I remember Man From Uncle and I’ve watched NCIS a few times too. Both good shows. I don’t know if I knew he was married to Jill Ireland. Nice M. Have a great weekend.


    1. He was also in “VR.5,” a science-fiction type show that ran on Fox in the Nineties, but he didn’t appear that often. He was good in that. I’m not a real sci-fi kind of guy, but that was a good show that I would have liked to have seen continue.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This was great! I recognized McCallum right away but thought it was from episodes of Columbo or something. Haven’t seen him on NCIS but just this morning “Death Wish” was on some oldies channel. I had no idea Bronson had stolen his wife from somebody else 😉


    1. I think Mary and I have seen every episode of Columbo several times over by now (it runs on Cozi TV tonight, in fact), and I can’t remember one that David McCallum was in. He’s made a lot of guest appearances on other shows, though.

      The fact that he cuckolded McCallum notwithstanding, Charles Bronson is a good actor. He was in a TV show in the Fifties called “Man With A Camera.” If you ever get a chance to see it, it’s worth watching.


    1. Brian Dietzen (Dr. Palmer) is good in his own way, but David McCallum is unique. I didn’t think the show would last after Michael Weatherly left, but it’s still going…


    1. Russian names are fun to say, aren’t they? Remember the old Peanuts cartoon, where Linus was trying to read “The Brothers Karamazov,” and would just BLEEP over all the names? I’d say trying to pronounce them is half the fun…


  4. Oh WOW! Love “Man from Uncle”! Totally cool show way back when!!! Thanks for posting & bringing some cool memories back when Mama & I use to watch them!!! Mom & I use to fight over who was cuter!!! hahahaha Have a good weekend my friend~!


    1. Do you remember in the last season of “The A Team” that Robert Vaughn was in charge of the team? They had an episode where David McCallum played an old friend/adversary that was fun to watch.


  5. What an arrogant thing for Charles Bronson to say! David McCallum always seemed like such a sweet man on both UNCLE and NCIS. You got me curious so I looked him up and was happy to learn he “has been married to Katherine Carpenter since 1967. 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:” He also has six grandchildren. So there.


  6. How weird, I was telling my husband about the Bronson / McCallum saga only yesterday. We were watching Charles Bronson in Once Upon a Time in the West (we love watching old movies and marveling about the looks and lives of the great old actors).


    1. Have you ever seen an old TV series called “Man With A Camera”? It starred a very young Charles Bronson as a photographer who was always getting himself involved when he shouldn’t have been and getting beaten up pretty badly. He was real skinny back then.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No, but I see some of the episodes are on You Tube and I will stream them for my husband. TV arrived in South Africa only in the mid 70’s, and even then the series were mostly locally produced or purchased from European countries. It took us years to catch up with American TV series (The Man from Uncle being one of them).


  7. I used to watch the Man from U.N.C.L.E. all the time, and yes Ilya Kuryakin was my favorite. Now we see him on NCIS all the time. My husband will watch episode after episode as long as it’s on.


    1. NCIS is a good show, even though lately it seems like Mark Harmon and a cast of thousands. I’ve heard rumors that Pauley Perrette (Abby) is leaving after this season. Wonder if it’ll even be worth watching then?


  8. Although my Dad used to watch Man from U.N.C.L.E. I was too young at the time. I got to watch some episodes as an adult when they re-ran on cable television here in the UK but by then they seem outdated and odd. I’m most familiar with David McCallum as Steel in the Anglia TV series created by Peter Hammond that was shown on ITV from 1979 to 1982, ‘Sapphire and Steel’, co-starring Joanna Lumley. That was very good television. I haven’t watched television for several years now and don’t really miss it most of the time. Glad to have caught up with your AtoZ posts again, an enjoyable visit, thanks.


  9. John,

    I remember watching the movie “The Great Escape” but I’m not sure that I recall McCallum in it, though. I did not know that he was married to Jill Ireland before Bronson. That was an interesting factoid you shared. I’ve only seen NCIS clips but never watch an episode. ‘The Man from U.N.C.L.E’ was before my time but I think it would’ve been a series that I would like. We saw the movie made in recent years which we both liked a lot and hope hte film industry make a sequel. Thanks for visiting Saturday’s post, iPad Art Sketch’M’ is for my favorite Monster!


  10. You know, I still have to see that TV series and I will one day. I always felt that Robert Vaughan was a bit…sleazy so I would have gone for David also. He was so good in Tne Great Escape and boy, was that a big gossip when Bronson and Ireland got together. I have to say those 2 were soul mates though. The line in NCIS is funny


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