David McCallum’s Most Well-Known Pre-‘NCIS’ Roles

Today, David McCallum is best known for playing Donald Mallard, aka Ducky, in the hit crime procedural NCIS. While fans have grown accustomed to watching the actor perform autopsies and psychological evaluations as the former chief medical examiner, the actor took on many TV and film roles before winding up in the CBS Jag spinoff. So, what are some of McCallum’s most well-known roles from his pre-NCIS years? 

David McCallum NCIS
David McCallum | David Livingston / Contributor

1. ‘The Man from U.N.C.L.E’ (1964 – 1968)

Though recently remade into a movie starring Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer, The Man from U.N.C.L.E was once a hit TV show starring McCallum. The actor even received a Golden Globe nomination for his turn as Illya Kuryakin in the adventure crime series. 

RELATED: ‘NCIS’: David McCallum’s Hilarious Reaction to Attractive Actors Who Play Dead Bodies

The show followed two top agents of the United Network Command for Law Enforcement, as they worked together to fight enemies of the peace. The role worked to kickstart the actor’s career, leading to many larger opportunities on the silver screen and the small screen alike. 

2. ‘The Great Escape’ (1963) 

The Great Escape focused on allied prisoners of war who aimed to create an escape plan that would allow several hundred of their numbers to break free from a German camp in the midst of World War II. McCallum starred alongside a couple of Hollywood greats in this one, including Steve McQueen, James Garner, and Richard Attenborough. If you’re looking for an old-school adventure, historical fiction film, be sure to give this one a shot. 

RELATED: ‘NCIS’: The Creepy Story of How David McCallum and Brian Dietzen Bonded Over an Autopsy

3. ‘Sapphire & Steel’ (1979 – 1982)

Sapphire & Steel was on the air for four years, and though the series was rather short-lived, it did acquire a dedicated fanbase along the way. McCallum and Joanna Lumley co-starred in a show about a special force of interdimensional operatives who work to protect the universe from evil. 

The evil-doers look to bring about chaos by disrupting the world’s natural timeline. McCallum was Steel and Lumley was Sapphire. Together, with help from a few others, they were sent to earth (with a human appearance, yet boasting special abilities) to save the day.

While the above movies represent some of McCallum’s most memorable roles, he has tried many characters on for size in his long and rich career. From dramas to action movies and sci-fi adventures, Mallard has definitely seen his fair share of the biz. You may also remember the actor from The Education of Max Bickford, Jeremiah, Cherry, March in the Windy City, and more.