David McCallum was the longest-standing member of NCIS, being one of the only original cast left on the show.
Since 2018, Ducky, played by David, has appeared in fewer episodes, leading viewers to wonder whether he would have been the next character to leave the show.
However, prior to his death aged 90, David spoke out about his reasoning for appearing in fewer episodes as he wanted to spend more time with his family including his wife, children, six grandsons, and their cat, Nickie.
He wrote on Facebook at the time: “I am delighted to say that I have reached an agreement with CBS for Dr. Donald Mallard to stay with NCIS for Season 16.
“Once again it will be a limited schedule. That arrangement will allow me to spend time with Katherine, our children, six grandsons, and Nickie.”
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David also admitted he decided to take a step back from the role when he felt that Ducky was becoming “redundant” having been on it since the show began in 2003.
In March 2018, Ducky stepped down from his role as a chief medical examiner to let his assistant, Jimmy Palmer, played by Brian Dietzen, step in.
He explained: “Now he’s retired, I sort of realised the character was becoming a little redundant.
“I sort of decided to leave the show, and they said, ‘No, we’d like to make you the historian so you’re still a part of the show’.”
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David sadly died in New York on Monday morning at the age of 90 from natural causes.
Current executive producers of NCIS Seven D. Binder and David North shared the statement: “For over 20 years, David McCallum endeared himself to audiences around the world playing the wise, quirky, and sometimes enigmatic, Dr. Donald ‘Ducky’ Mallard.
“But as much as his fans may have loved him, those who worked side by side with David loved him that much more.
“He was a scholar and a gentleman, always gracious, a consummate professional, and never one to pass up a joke.
“From day one, it was an honour to work with him and he never let us down. He was, quite simply, a legend. He was also family and will be deeply missed.”
Peter McCallum, who was one of McCallum’s four children, called his dad “the kindest, coolest, most patient and loving father” in a heartwarming tribute.
He added: “After returning from the hospital to their apartment, I asked my mother if she was OK before she went to sleep.
“Her answer was simply, ‘Yes. But I do wish we had had a chance to grow old together.’ She is 79, and dad just turned 90.
“The honesty in that emotion shows how vibrant their beautiful relationship and daily lives were, and that somehow, even at 90, Daddy never grew old.”
McCallum is also survived by his wife of 56 years, Katherine McCallum.
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