“You never come to terms with the death of a child. The pain is very real, but it’s like an ache that turns into anger.”

“NCIS” star David McCallum learned that his deceased son, Jason, had a child a few months after his passing. Jason’s kid is now part of McCallum’s family.

David McCallum has lived a long and prosperous life. He achieved fame in “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.,” had five children, and was married for over five decades.

However, he experienced a parent’s worst nightmare in the late 1980s when Jason, his adopted son, passed away. He left behind a son, Tory, and McCallum only learned about him months after Jason died.

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

Now, McCallum has passed away at 90 of natural causes. His son, who shared the news in a statement, said his father was surrounded by loved ones when he died.

McCallum’s Love Life
Born in September 1933, McCallum launched his acting career in the early 1950s with minor roles in “The Rose and the Ring,” “Violent Playground,” “A Night to Remember,” and “Robbery Under Arms.”

His career skyrocketed in 1964 when he portrayed Russian agent Illya Kuryakin in “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” To younger generations, McCallum is best known as Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard from “NCIS.”

The actor has kept himself active in the entertainment industry for over six decades, but he did not do it alone. His two wives, Jill Ireland and Katherine Carpenter, supported him along the way.

The actor met actress and singer Ireland in March 1957 while filming “Hell Drivers.” The former couple quickly fell in love and married later that year. Although they didn’t have biological children, they adopted Paul, Jason, and Valentine.

McCallum and Ireland divorced in 1967, but they parted ways a few years earlier. The late actress cheated on McCallum with his co-star from the 1963 film “The Great Escape,” Charles Bronson.

Jill Ireland and David McCallum at the Hampstead Playhouse Cinema in London on April 4, 1961 | Photo: Getty Images

In 1965, McCallum met actress and model Katherine Carpenter in New York during a photo shoot for “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” Although Carpenter was just 21 years old, and McCallum was 11 years her senior, they fell in love and became inseparable.

Carpenter was by McCallum’s side during his publicity tour for the action-comedy series around Australia and Asia. Their relationship attracted a lot of attention because he was still married to Ireland.

McCallum didn’t know that Jason was an expectant father when he died.

Shortly after McCallum and Ireland officially divorced in 1967, he married Carpenter in a small ceremony. The actor preferred keeping details of his life away from the spotlight and rarely spoke about his family in public.

However, he and Carpenter have one of the longest-lasting marriages in showbiz, spanning 56 years when he died. They also shared two biological children, Sophie and Peter.

Out of McCallum’s four living children, Valentine is the most famous. He is a talented guitarist and has worked with Lucinda Williams, The Wallflowers, Loretta Lynn, Sheryl Crow, and many other musicians.

Valentine has also been a fixture in Jackson Browne’s band on and off for over two decades. He has released three solo albums and has a teenage daughter, Stella, with his wife of 26 years, Shelli.

The rest of McCallum’s children are keeping their lives away from the public eye. Paul tried to follow in his dad’s footsteps and took a few acting gigs between 1982 and 1987, but he is no longer involved in showbiz. Nowadays, he is a studio photographer and also has a daughter.

Portrait of David McCallum from "The Man from U.N.C.L.E.," circa 1965 | Photo: Getty Images

McCallum’s life changed forever in November 1989 when his son, Jason, passed away. He was 27 years old. Jason’s girlfriend discovered his lifeless body on the bathroom floor of his rented apartment in Laurel Canyon, Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles Police spokeswoman, Marie Reid, said they didn’t find signs of foul play or trauma. One of his friends described him as a shy and withdrawn person who didn’t work. Ireland and Bronson financially supported him.

McCallum never wondered if he could have done something different with Jason.

Initially, Jason’s cause of death was unknown. Suicide was not an option, though, as he was “not unhappy” and had just moved into the Lauren Canyon apartment with his girlfriend.

Ireland then released a statement and revealed that drugs were involved. After writing that she hated drugs, the late actress admitted that Jason was “on the road to recovery.”

She shared more details about her son’s battle with drug and alcohol addiction in her book “Life Lines.” The troubled young man started doing cocaine, alcohol, and heroin as a teen.

Although he went to rehab several times, he could never kick his addictions. Jason died from an accidental drug overdose, and Ireland hoped that “Life Lines” would keep other young people from experiencing what her son had.

David McCallum on May 14, 2014, in New York | Photo: Getty Images

McCallum didn’t know that Jason was an expectant father when he died. A few months later, he received a card from Jason’s girlfriend and learned they had a son named Tory.

Tory, who McCallum called Jason’s lasting legacy, is in his 20s and became friends with his uncles. The actor hoped Tory becomes “as fine a person as his dad.”

In 2016, McCallum opened up about Jason’s passing and said, “You never come to terms with the death of a child. The pain is very real, but it’s like an ache that turns into anger.” 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.”

He also mentioned, “I’ve learned a lot and have at least six feet of death books on my shelves.” The actor admitted he never wondered if he could have done something different with Jason because Ireland got full custody of their three children after the divorce.

Although McCallum lost touch with his three adopted kids and had no control over what happened to them, he regretted not being present during the time leading up to Jason’s death.

McCallum confessed that, with biological children, parents have a broad idea of what to expect because of the genetic similarities. It is a different case with adopted children, like Jason.

Still, his son delighted him and Ireland because he was one of the most “wonderful people” ever. McCallum finally said that Jason had the life he had, and all he had to do was accept it.

McCallum Loved Spending Time with Family
Despite his thriving Hollywood career, McCallum was very much a family man and enjoyed being at home with his wife and children whenever possible.

He was married to his second wife for over five decades and he was grateful he had married someone more talented than he. McCallum described himself and his wife as “two halves of a whole,” and said they remained together for so long because they had both found out what the other person wanted and ensured they got it.

in 2018, after working in Hollywood most of his life, McCallum announced via Facebook that it was finally time for him to begin settling down.

The actor said that although he would remain on “NCIS,” it would be on a limited schedule, which would allow him time to spend with his wife, children, grandchildren, and cat named Nickie. He enjoyed his time with his family until his death. Rest in peace.