David McCallum is credited as the longest-serving member of NCIS. But, long before he landed the role of Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard, the actor had already shot to an unprecedented level of fame in another iconic show. Cast as secret agent Illya Kuryakin in the television series The Man from U.N.C.L.E – which ran from 1964 to 1968 – the role put him on the world stage.
In a 2010 interview with The Scotsman, however, David spoke of the highs and lows of fame, revealing that on one occasion, a rescue mission had to be carried out after fans caused $25,000 in damages.
Asked about his popularity during The Man from U.N.C.L.E, David replied: “There is a practicality about it. You have to deal with it by not going to certain places. I was rescued from Central Park by mounted police once. When I went to Macy’s department store the fans did $25,000 worth of damage and they had to close Herald Square to get me out. That’s pretty classic, but you just have to deal with it. And then whoever was next came along, and you get dropped overnight, which is a relief.”
Nonetheless, the TV star has always remained positive. He added: “It’s all part of a wonderful, crazy life. I was born in Glasgow; I went to school in Gartocharn and at Stewarton School in Stirlingshire – across the hills in muddy boots with my jammy piece in my bag – and then came down to London. The whole thing is a sort of huge collage of a life. It’s always been wonderful.”
It’s not the only time that David has addressed the perils of fame. Speaking to Closer Weekly in 2017, he explained: “I was a little sad in the beginning that I lost my privacy. There’s a certain incognito streak in me.”
However, the actor clarified that nowadays he has a much calmer experience with fans. “Nobody really gives me any problems. What I get now is people coming up quietly and saying, ‘Love your work, thank you.’ They just appreciate it, and it’s wonderful.”