NCIS and The Man From U.N.C.L.E star David McCallum dies aged 90

David McCallum's song, The Edge, made its way into one of the 00s' most defining hip hop records when Dr Dre sampled it for The Next Episode, as ITV News' Entertainment Reporter Rishi Davda reports

Scottish actor David McCallum, who rose to fame in The Man From U.N.C.L.E. in the 1960s and was the eccentric medical examiner in the NCIS 40 years later, has died aged 90.

McCallum died on Monday of natural causes surrounded by family at a hospital in New York.

A statement from CBS said: "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."

Scottish-born McCallum appeared in several films during his early career like The Great Escape and The Greatest Story Ever Told but it was his role in The Man From U.N.C.L.E. that made him a teenage heartthrob in the mid-60s.

McCallum pictured in 2013. Credit: AP

Riding off the back of the success of James Bond, the spy show The Man From U.N.C.L.E. was based on Jon Heitland's book of the same name.

The show, which debuted in 1964, starred Robert Vaughn as Napoleon Solo, an agent in a secretive, high-tech squad of crime fighters whose initials stood for United Network Command for Law and Enforcement.

Despite the Cold War, the agency had an international staff, with McCallum as Illya Kuryakin, Solo’s Russian sidekick.

The role was relatively small at first, McCallum recalled, adding in a 1998 interview that "I’d never heard of the word ‘sidekick’ before."

Scottish-born McCallum appeared in several films during his early career. Credit: AP

The show drew mixed reviews but eventually caught on, particularly with teenage girls attracted by McCallum’s good looks and enigmatic, intellectual character.

By 1965, Illya was a full partner to Vaughn’s character and both stars were mobbed during personal appearances.

The series lasted until 1968 with Vaughn and McCallum reuniting in 1983 for a TV movie, The Return of the Man From U.N.C.L.E., in which the agents were lured out of retirement to save the world once more.

McCallum returned to television in 2003 to star in NCIS.

He played Dr. Donald 'Ducky' Mallard, a bookish pathologist for the Naval Criminal Investigation Service, an agency handling crimes involving the Navy or the Marines.

McCallum said he thought Ducky, who sported glasses and a bow tie, "looked a little silly, but it was great fun to do."

He took the role seriously, too, spending time in the Los Angeles coroner’s office to gain insight into how autopsies are conducted.

The series built an audience gradually, eventually reaching the roster of top 10 shows.

McCallum’s work with U.N.C.L.E. brought him two Emmy nominations, and he got a third as an educator struggling with alcoholism in a 1969 Hallmark Hall of Fame drama called Teacher, Teacher.

He also dabbled in a successful music career - his song, The Edge, released in 1968, was famously sampled as the intro and riff to Dr Dre's The Next Episode.

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