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David McCallum | Source: Getty Images
David McCallum | Source: Getty Images

‘NCIS’ Star David McCallum Adored His Mixed Grandkids — He Cooked for His Big Family & Danced with ‘Sniper’ Wife

Bettina Dizon
Sep 26, 2023
06:45 A.M.

David McCallum, known as Ducky on "NCIS," died at 90. He died peacefully, surrounded by his family. The actor might have been known for his "NCIS" role, but at home, he was just grand-daddy, the amazing grandfather to eight grandchildren.

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David McCallum on "NCIS" in 2022 | Source: Getty Images

David McCallum on "NCIS" in 2022 | Source: Getty Images

Fan favorite "NCIS" star David McCallum was an outstanding actor in the entertainment industry with several on-screen credits under his name, but behind the scenes, he was a doting family man, husband, and grandfather of eight. His grandkids even had a special nickname for him.

McCallum died peacefully of natural causes, surrounded by his family at the New York Presbyterian Hospital on Monday. The "NCIS" star was 90. His son Peter shared a statement on behalf of the family and said, “He was the kindest, coolest, most patient and loving father. He always put family before self."

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Although it seemed he had the perfect family, it took heartbreak, divorce, and a crazy fiction-like storyline before he achieved happiness with his wife, Katherine Carpenter.

McCallum was previously married to fellow actress, Jill Ireland. However, their union ended in divorce after a movie-like scenario happened in real life. While still married, McCallum's "Great Escape" co-star, Charles Bronson, pursued Ireland. Their affair eventually blossomed into romance and ended with marriage.

David McCallum in Los Angeles in 2017 | Source: Getty Images

David McCallum in Los Angeles in 2017 | Source: Getty Images

Despite what happened, McCallum had no hard feelings for Bronson and still considered him a good friend. In fact, it was because of his ex-wife's affair that he eventually lived in marital bliss with Carpenter. Still, the actor admitted to having a difficult time during the separation. "Not least because we had three children," he said.

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In 1965, McCallum met Carpenter during a photo shoot for his film, "Man from U.N.C.L.E." Carpenter, a former model and interior designer, was eleven years his junior and then only 21. Still, the age difference was insignificant in their romance.

In 2015, he shared throwback photos fifty years apart – the day when he and Carpenter met and a more recent trip to the same location.

It only took a short time before they fell in love and debuted their relationship during his publicity tours around Asia and Australia. At the time, McCallum was still legally married to Ireland. In 1967, as soon as his divorce was finalized, McCallum proposed to Carpenter.

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The couple was married for 56 years. Although in a different line of work, Carpenter enjoyed supporting her husband's philanthropic efforts, such as aiding the US Marine Corps. In a previous interview with Closer Weekly, the actor gushed about his wife:

"Katherine and I are two halves of a whole. We work well together, and when problems come along, we solve them. The best thing about marriage is you find out what the other person wants and make [expletive] sure they get it."

McCallum expressed his love for his wife several times on the internet. In 2015, he shared two photos, one a throwback from fifty years earlier— the day when he and Carpenter met— and a more recent trip to the same location.

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The following year, he shared a photo of Carpenter laying flat on the ground to get a sniper's shot. "I am married to a crack shot," he captioned the post. "Grandkids are most impressed."

McCallum shared two children with Carpenter and three other kids with his first wife, Ireland. One of his children, Sophie McCallum, is a proud mother to three boys who often appear on her social media account.

What Was David McCallum Like as a Family Man?

There's no denying McCallum had natural talent as an actor, but he was also skilled in many other things, including cooking and gardening. During a podcast interview, he revealed he was fond of pronouncing Italian dishes correctly despite Americans pronouncing them differently.

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McCallum's book was nothing close to his famous show "NCIS," although he started writing it around the same time he was in the studio.

He also shared several photos of him whipping up dishes in the kitchen, including preparing a turkey for his family during Thanksgiving. McCallum also shared a snap of him making pasta from scratch in one of his Facebook photos. He had the right kitchen tools to aid him in creating different cuisines, including a pasta dough cutter.

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Besides his life at home, McCallum was also active outdoors. He did pilates in the morning and, when possible, expanded his knowledge of other cultures through his travels. He also rode a speedboat during good weather and sometimes went fishing and played golf.

As he got older, one of his most outstanding achievements was becoming an author at 68. McCallum wrote the novel "Once a Crooked Man," which has since been published. "Writing a book is great because it gives you something to do," he said. However, McCallum never expected to have such a career in his late 60s.

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McCallum's book was nothing close to his famous show "NCIS," although he started writing it around the same time he was in the studio. He said of his book's storyline:

"It is about Harry Murphy, an actor who lives in New York, who has a serendipitous moment and goes off to save someone's life."

However, his novel's lead character soon realized his decision had several challenges. The rest of the book focuses on Murphy's adventure as he continues his life.

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McCallum was undoubtedly a man of many talents. He was even described as a "renaissance man" during one of his interviews after he recorded with Capitol Records in the '60s.

His lifestyle made him reach the 80s with good health and happiness. His wife, Carpenter, is also a significant contributor to his well-being.

With his first wife, McCallum shared three adopted children, Paul, Jason, and Valentine. He later welcomed two biological kids, Sophie and Peter, with Carpenter.

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Despite their age, McCallum and Carpenter kept the spark alive through dinner dates and quality time. Previously, the couple danced to '40s classics for hours during a friend's birthday party in Montecito. In 2017, they had an intimate dinner to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.

McCallum, who has been actively posting snippets of his life on Facebook, shared photos from the celebrations with his wife, which he will always treasure.

In 2022, McCallum celebrated his 55th wedding anniversary with Carpenter, a milestone only a few in Hollywood can achieve. In his tribute to his wife, he posted side-by-side pictures of the day they met and in recent years.

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Who Are David McCallum's Grandkids, and How Do They Spend Time Together?

Although McCallum kept his personal life private, his children and grandchildren have made headlines. With his first wife, McCallum shared three adopted children, Paul, Jason, and Valentine. He later welcomed two biological kids, Sophie and Peter, with Carpenter.

Sadly, McCallum's son, Jason, died in 1989 at 27. He was found unconscious in his Los Angeles apartment with no signs of foul play surrounding his death.

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Of his kids, Valentine chose a career closest to his father's. He is a musical entertainer who worked with Loretta Lynn, Sheryl Crow, Lucinda Williams, and many more. Valentine is also a proud father to his daughter, Stella.

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Valentine and his wife, Shelli, appear to live in marital bliss. He sometimes posts tributes to her on social media alongside photos of their biracial daughter.

His brother, Paul, also attempted to join the entertainment industry and had a few acting credits in the '80s. However, he ultimately pursued a different path and became a studio photographer. Paul gave his father one granddaughter.

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Sadly, McCallum's son, Jason, died in 1989 at 27. He was found unconscious in his Los Angeles apartment with no signs of foul play surrounding his death. Jason was involved with substance abuse and entered rehab several times. Unfortunately, it was an addiction he couldn't stop until the end.

Jason was an expectant father before his passing. His girlfriend welcomed their son, Tory, a few months after he died. Jason's tragedy was a painful event that McCallum never came to terms with. He added:

"At the same time, there's a frustration that you couldn't really have done anything about it, which makes it even worse."

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McCallum may not have had the power to prevent his son's passing, as Ireland got full custody of all their children after their split. His only regret was being absent during the months before Jason's death.

McCallum was also a proud grandfather to an Italian grandson. According to the actor, the young boy is skilled in memorizing lines like him. He even proudly shared a short clip of his grandson reciting a piece in front of an audience.

He also had three grandsons from his daughter, Sophie. Often, Sophie, a self-love advocate, posts photos with her three boys on social media, documenting their family activities and day-to-day lives.

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Interestingly, McCallum calls his younger grandson Young Ducky, a tribute to his nickname derived from his on-screen character on "NCIS."

McCallum's other grandchildren sometimes appeared on his social media posts, and based on photos, they all seemed to have gorgeous blonde locks. His posts were often reserved for special occasions, but McCallum sometimes shared photos just for fun.

One of these memorable events was the anniversary of McCallum's US citizenship. McCallum, who was born in the UK and relocated to the US as he aged, was treated to delicious baked goodies by his grandchildren.

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McCallum and Carpenter loved spending time with their grandkids and tried to make more room for them during free days. McCallum shared:

"They call me grand-daddy. We don't like grandpa because it sounds old – and I'm not old, and some of them have the cheek to call me grand-ducky."

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Interestingly, McCallum called his younger grandson Young Ducky, a tribute to his nickname derived from his on-screen character on "NCIS."

In 2020, McCallum shared how two of his grandchildren helped him on set to "make up one of the bodies" by painting toes four years ago. However, due to the pandemic, his grandchildren had lived secluded in their homes. Still, they had the creativity to think of activities to keep them occupied.

McCallum had no regrets and believed he had a "magnificent life." The actor once said, "I can sit here for a week and talk to you about the past 82 years, and 99.9% will be wonderful and positive."

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McCallum admitted that he was amazed by what his grandkids created on their own amidst a then-catastrophic world. Fortunately, it also allowed them time to spend focused on family.

Besides his social media posts, photos of McCallum and Carpenter's grandchildren were posted on their children's Facebook. Often, Sophie and Valentine share memorable moments with their children, documenting milestones for the world to see.

What Did David McCallum Think About His Life?

Indeed, McCallum lived a long and fruitful life with many children and grandchildren. To tie his blessings together, he had a beautiful wife with whom he spent every day living in marital bliss.

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He was fortunate to have found success as an actor, playing his famous role as Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard in "NCIS" since 2013. McCallum also appeared in several other on-screen productions before that. His career started to bloom in the '50s, following his role in "The Great Escape."

David McCallum on "NCIS" in 2022 | Source: Getty Images

David McCallum on "NCIS" in 2022 | Source: Getty Images

McCallum's other on-screen roles included "The Spy with My Face," "Mosquito Squadron," "Hauser's Memory," "She Waits," "Colditz," "The Invisible Man," "Kidnapped," "Sapphire & Steel," "The Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E." The Fifteen Years Later Affair," and many more.

While his skill in acting was natural, McCallum enhanced it when he studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London with Joan Collins. Besides acting together, they played fencing.

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Looking back, McCallum had no regrets and believed he had a "magnificent life." The actor once said, "I can sit here for a week and talk to you about the past 82 years, and 99.9% will be wonderful and positive."

The McCallum family continued to have a close relationship despite having different pursuits in life. As seen in photos, they came together to bond and celebrate milestones.

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