British actor David McCallum, who played the role of forensic pathologist "Ducky" in "NCIS" for 20 seasons, has died at the age of 90, several US media reported Monday.
The one who first became known to the general public in the 1960s by playing the charmer Illya Kouriakine in the series "Very Special Agents", died Monday surrounded by his family in a hospital in New York, said the CBS channel.
He was the kindest, coolest, most patient and loving father," his son Peter said, according to the channel. "He was fascinated by science and culture and turned those passions into knowledge," he added, adding that his father would even have been able to perform an autopsy "based on his decades-long research for his role in NCIS."
Millions of spectators
A student at the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London, David McCallum made one of his first film appearances in 1963 in "The Great Escape", alongside Steve McQueen.
But it was when he was chosen the following year to play the enigmatic Soviet secret agent Illya Kuryakin in "Very Special Agents" that his career really took off. With lush blonde hair and turtlenecks, David McCallum represented a certain icon of charm. The series "Very Special Agents" lasted only four years, but his character followed it for life. "It's been over 30 years but I can't escape it," he told The New York Times in 1998.
Starting in 2003, he began his role as Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard, a forensic pathologist with the U.S. Navy's Criminal Investigative Service, NCIS, in the series of the same name. A real hit, it will be followed by millions of viewers in the United States and around the world, continuing through its 20 seasons to be broadcast on American television. With his characteristic bow ties, he will appear in all but one episode of the first 15 seasons, before making more sporadic appearances from season 16.