Every Topic Every Day

Remembering a Legend: When Did David McCallum Die and What Did He Die Of?

David McCallum, beloved for his portrayal of Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard on the long-running crime procedural NCIS, left an indelible mark on the show and its viewers. His unexpected passing on September 25, 2023, marked the end of an era, prompting fans to wonder how the show would handle the departure of such a cherished character. In this article, we delve into the details of David McCallum’s death, the emotional tribute in NCIS Season 21, and the impact of his legacy.

McCallum’s journey on NCIS began in Season 1, and for over two decades, he brought the character of Ducky to life with his unparalleled charm and wit. As the chief medical examiner and NCIS historian, Ducky became a fan favorite, and McCallum’s performance garnered widespread acclaim. His co-star, Mark Harmon, paid tribute to him, acknowledging McCallum’s significant contribution to the show and describing him as a legendary actor.

Due to McCallum’s passing before the start of NCIS Season 21, the creators faced the challenge of writing out Ducky without the actor’s presence. The tribute episode, titled “The Stories We Leave Behind,” served as a poignant farewell to both the character and the actor. Co-written by Brian Dietzen, who portrayed Ducky’s close friend Dr. Jimmy Palmer, the episode explored the team’s mourning process as they worked on one of Ducky’s unfinished cases.

The episode delved into the importance of the case to Dr. Mallard, allowing the characters to reminisce about their memories of their dear colleague and friend. Showrunners David J. North and Steven D. Binder emphasized the emotional depth of the episode, revealing that tears were shed during the writing and filming process. The narrative not only paid homage to McCallum’s legacy but also showcased Ducky’s enduring impact on the NCIS team.

David McCallum passed away peacefully at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City at the age of 89. The actor, survived by his wife of 56 years, Katherine McCallum, left behind a rich legacy both on and off-screen. His son, Peter McCallum, fondly remembered his father as a “true renaissance man” with a passion for science and culture.

Following McCallum’s death, the NCIS cast came together to honor him in various ways. The show producers, Steven D. Binder and David North, expressed their deep admiration for McCallum’s professionalism, wit, and the profound impact he had on everyone associated with the show. CBS also aired an NCIS marathon in honor of the late actor, showcasing some of his most memorable moments on the series.

David McCallum’s death marked the end of an era for NCIS, and the show’s creators, cast, and fans joined together to pay tribute to the iconic actor. The emotional farewell episode not only served as a fitting goodbye to the character of Ducky but also allowed viewers to celebrate the life and legacy of David McCallum. As the NCIS team bid farewell to Dr. Donald Mallard, they, and the audience, were reminded of the profound impact of both the character and the actor who brought him to life.