‘NCIS’: David McCallum’s Greatest Loss: “You Never Come to Terms with the Death of a Child.”

Fans know David McCallum as Donald “Ducky” Mallard on the hit CBS show NCIS. On TV he is portrayed as a cool, calm, and collected worker who always has the answers. However, in real life, McCallum doesn’t always know what to say and do. In a recent interview he discussed how his world came crashing down after the death of his son. Here’s what David McCallum had to say about managing grief after the death of his child.

David McCallum’s life before NCIS

David McCallum|Michael Desmond/CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images
David McCallum|Michael Desmond/CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images

McCallum is known for playing Illya Kuryakin in the series The Man from U.N.C.L.E. from 1964 to 1968. His other television appearances include The Replacements, The Education of Max Bickford, Kidnapped, Law & Order, and Sex and the City. McCallum also appeared in two episodes of JAG, the series that spun off NCIS. He appeared in two 2003 episodes titled “Meltdown” and “Ice Queen.”

How David McCallum’s son died

David McCallum NCIS|Cliff Lipson/CBS via Getty Images
David McCallum NCIS|Cliff Lipson/CBS via Getty Images

McCallum’s adopted son Jason died after a drug overdose in 1989. In a 2016 interview with Belfast Telegraph, the actor spoke about the emotional rollercoaster he endured after his son passed away. “You never come to terms with the death of a child,” said McCallum. “The pain is very real, but it’s like an ache that turns into anger.” 

The NCIS star says another emotion he felt after his son’s death was frustration. He told the publication he felt bad because there was nothing he could do to prevent his son’s accident. “At the same time, there’s a frustration that you couldn’t really have done anything about it, which makes it even worse. In the final analysis, he had the life he had. You just have to accept it,” McCallum told Belfast Telegraph. The actor and his ex-wife, Jill Ireland, also have two other adopted sons.

David McCallum’s ex-wife and son were the subject of a TV movie

David McCallum on set of NCIS|Bill Inoshita/CBS via Getty Images
David McCallum on set of NCIS|Bill Inoshita/CBS via Getty Images

The story of Ireland’s life and Jason’s death was told in a two-hour television movie titled Reason for Living: The Jill Ireland Story. The movie revealed Jason had a drug addiction and that his birth father was a drug addict. The movie is based on Ireland’s autobiographical book “Life Lines,” reports The New York Times. The book detailed Ireland’s crusade to save her son from drug addiction while she battled cancer. She lost her six-year battle with cancer in 1990, about a year after Jason’s death.

Read more: ‘NCIS’: David McCallum Net Worth and How He Makes His Money

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