At the age of 89, Scottish actor David McCallum is still working in the role of medical examiner Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard on the hit television show ‘NCIS’.
In fact, McCallum is the last remaining original member of the show’s cast, having been with the show since Season 1, despite only appearing on a handful of episodes per season in recent years (he also played the character on the two-part “Jag” episode from which “NCIS” was spun off).
Prior to joining “NCIS” in 2003, McCallum had a long and varied career in film and television dating back to the late 1950s. His notable film credits include 1963’s “The Great Escape,” 1965’s “The Greatest Story Ever Told” (in which he played Judas Iscariot), and 1980’s “The Watcher in the Woods.” Prior to playing Ducky, he was best known for his role as Russian spy Illya Kuryakin in the mid-1960s series “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.,” though he also appeared in seminal shows such as “The Outer Limits,” “The Six Million Dollar Man,” “Hart to Hart,” “Murd3r, She Wrote,” and even a 1999 episode of “Sex and the City.”
Still, an entire generation of viewers knows him as Ducky, and McCallum has a favorite memory from his two decades on “NCIS.”
David McCallum’s career was transformed after he was cast as Ducky.
In a 2016 Reddit AMA, David McCallum was asked what his favorite memory from his (at the time) 13 seasons as Donald “Ducky” Mallard on “NCIS” was.
“After auditioning for both Paramount and CBS, the call from my agent telling me that I got the part of ‘Ducky’ is my favorite moment,” McCallum responded. “Since then, there have been hundreds!”
It’s difficult to imagine that there haven’t been other great moments for McCallum in the 20-year, 446-episode run of “NCIS,” but it’s also easy to see why landing the role of Ducky was a career highlight for McCallum in the first place.
On the surface, a 70-year-old man in his sixth decade as a working actor landing a starring role on a TV series that introduces him to a massive new audience is amazing in a business that generally favors youth over experience. It’s incredible that he’s stayed with the show and the character for another 20 years — though, sadly, his tenure may be coming to an end soon.
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