David McCallum, star of Man from U.N.C.L.E and NCIS, dies aged 90

David McCallum has died
David McCallum has died. Photo credit: Getty Images

David McCallum, the British actor famous for playing a suave spy in The Man from U.N.C.L.E, has died aged 90.

He played Illya Kuryakin alongside Robert Vaughn's Napoleon Solo in the 1960s hit spy drama.

McCallum was also known for his roles in cult sci-fi mystery series Sapphire and Steel and more recently as pathologist Dr Donald 'Ducky' Mallard on NCIS.

He died on Monday (US time) of natural causes in New York, his family confirmed in a statement.

"He was the kindest, coolest, most patient and loving father. 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," the family statement reads.

"He was a true renaissance man - he was fascinated by science and culture and would turn those passions into knowledge. 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.

"After returning from the hospital to their apartment, I asked my mother if she was OK before she went to sleep. Her answer was simply, 'Yes. But I do wish we had had a chance to grow old together.' She is 79, and dad just turned 90. The honesty in that emotion shows how vibrant their beautiful relationship and daily lives were, and that somehow, even at 90, Daddy never grew old." 

NCIS' US broadcaster also paid tribute saying "his legacy will forever live on".

"We are deeply saddened by the passing of David McCallum and privileged that CBS was his home for so many years. David was a gifted actor and author, and beloved by many around the world. He led an incredible life, and his legacy will forever live on through his family and the countless hours on film and television that will never go away."