50 Things You Didn't Know About Mark Harmon
Mark Harmon is an actor and is best known for his role as Leroy Jethro Gibbs on NCIS. He appeared on the television series for almost two decades but has had an interesting career away from the series as well. Harmon has been featured in other successful television shows such as St. Elsewhere and Chicago Hope. In addition, he has starred in films such as The Presidio and Stealing Home.
Mark Harmon Was Born On September 2, 1951
Mark Harmon was born in 1951 to Tom Harmon and Elyse Knox. He was born in Burbank, California, is the youngest of three children, and is of Austrian descent.
Mark's father was a Heisman Trophy-winning football player and broadcaster, and his mother was an actress, artist, and model. He graduated from high school in 1970 and attended Pierce College in Los Angeles, where he played college football.
He Was An Award-Winning College Quarterback
Back in college, Mark was a talented athlete and was a quarterback at UCLA in 1972 and 1973. He led his team, the Bruins, to a 17-5 record. His time as a football star actually led him to an early brush with Hollywood when he was at the same event as John Wayne.
Harmon stated that it was an unforgettable evening because it was a tux-only event, and he walked into a clothes store at the last minute and purchased a dove, gray tuxedo with a frilly undershirt. Wayne called Harmon a rebel all evening and signed his program, "To the rebel, may the wind always be at your back, John Wayne."
Ozzie And Harriet Got Harmon Into Acting
Mark decided that he didn't want to pursue his football career and instead wanted to pursue a career as an actor. His interest came after his sister married musician and actor Ricky Nelson, and he began to hang out with Nelson's parents, who happened to be the famous TV duo, Ozzie and Harriet Nelson.
Harmon became close with Ozzie, who later asked him to fill in for an actor who couldn't make it, and he agreed. Harmon stated that it changed his course, so he started taking acting classes to better prepare himself.
He Was Once Named Sexiest Man Alive
Mark Harmon was once considered a hunk and was named People Magazine's Sexiest Man Alive in 1986. Harmon stated that he thought it was "silly" and that he found out about it in a very unconventional way.
He went to play basketball with some friends, and the court was plastered with the cover of the magazine. He ended up poking fun at the whole thing when he hosted Saturday Night Live in 1987.
Harmon Once Rescued A Teenager From A Burning Car
In 1996, Mark Harmon staged a life-saving rescue right outside his front door. One night, two teenage boys were driving down his street, but they crashed, and their car caught on fire. The driver was able to get out of the car, but his friend was trapped inside the burning car.
Harmon grabbed a sledgehammer, breaking the window and pulling the young boy from the car. He spent a long time in the hospital with third-degree burns and later learned that Mark Harmon had saved him. "There's no way I can repay him except for pay it forward, and I try to do that in my life." ----Colin Specht.
He Had A Memorable On-Set Experience With Elizabeth Taylor
In 1989, Mark shared the screen with Elizabeth Taylor in the television movie Sweet Bird of Youth. He stated that Taylor had it in her contract that she wouldn't work more than eight hours a day and even had an assistant that would keep track of the time. He said that one day, she ended up working two hours longer than her eight hours, and she made sure that everyone knew about it.
Harmon said, "welcome to the club," and Taylor glared at him. However, after that, she started staying on set as long as everyone else. When the movie wrapped, Taylor gave everyone gifts, but she gave a special gift to Harmon. She gifted him a solid gold 1959 Hamilton Select watch with the engraving that read "M.H. Two hours, tik-tok. Love you, T."
He's Married To Mindy From Mork & Mindy
Mark Harmon's wife actually had a successful career of her own before the two met. She is best known for playing Mindy in the popular sitcom Mork & Mindy, but she also played the lead character in the sitcom My Sister Sam.
After getting married and having two children, she chose to retire from acting to focus on her family. However, she did return to the screen in 2021 to join her husband in four episodes of NCIS.
Harmon Tried To Turn Down His Starring Role In Summer School
In 1987, Mark Harmon starred in the film Summer School as a gym teacher forced to teach summer school in order to keep his tenure. Throughout most of the movie, he is wearing Hawaiian shirts and talking about surfing.
However, Harmon wasn't sure about being in the movie at first, and he stated that he initially refused the role because he didn't think he was funny.
There's Still A Chance Harmon Could Come Back To NCIS
Fans of NCIS were shocked when Harmon's character left the show. However, just because he left the show, for now, doesn't necessarily mean we'll never hear from Gibbs again.
Harmon still remains an executive producer on the show and still comes to the set often. Many people on the show have said that they believe that Gibbs could still pop up somewhere, but there is no confirmation one way or the other.
Mark Harmon And NCIS Co-Star Pauley Perrette Didn't Exactly Get Along
Mark Harmon and Pauley Perrette started having issues on set in 2016 when Harmon brought his dog to set, and it apparently bit a crew member. Harmon continued to bring his dog to work, and Perrette was upset about it, taking her issues to CBS management.
They made the decision to prevent Harmon from bringing his dog to set anymore, and this caused a huge rift between the two actors.
His Son Played The Younger Version Of His NCIS Character
Mark Harmon has two sons, and his son Sean has followed in his footsteps, becoming an actor and a stunt coordinator. NCIS producers happened to be looking for someone to portray a younger version of Gibbs. So, rather than casting an unknown actor, they cast Harmon's son.
Sean played a young Gibbs in seven episodes over the course of the series. In addition, Sean starred in an episode of NCIS: Los Angeles, where he played a white supremacist named Charlie Connor, who begins to reconsider the path he has chosen for himself.
He Once Sought Custody Of His Nephew
Mark's sister Kristin had a rocky relationship with her husband Rick, and they were both on drugs for many years. Kristin filed for divorce in 1974 and received custody of their four children. However, she continued to do drugs, and her son Sam moved in with Mark and his wife.
After Rick died in a plane crash, Kristin's drug use got worse, and Mark got her to enter rehab. He then was granted temporary custody of Sam, causing a family feud. Eventually, Kristin regained custody of her son Sam.
He Chose Not To Be A Movie Star For His Family
Mark Harmon starred in a few movies in the 1980s but has spent most of his career working in television. Mark decided he didn't want to be a movie star and be traveling all of the time with a family at home.
In an interview, he told the story about being on location and almost missing being able to see his son's first steps. He came home and told his wife, "Hate to tell you, but I'm not gonna be doing new movies in New Guinea for the rest of my life to be able to afford the house we're in and miss all this."
The Crew Of The West Wing Was Not Happy When Harmon Left The Show
Mark's time on the television series The West Wing didn't last very long, but he obviously made a big impact on the set. His character was only on the show for four episodes, and when he died, his fans on set were upset.
Aaron Sorkin, the show's creator, stated that some of the female members of the crew were upset with the decision to kill the character. They told Sorkin that if he didn't want his tires slashed, the character needed to survive.
Sean Murray Gave Him An Interesting Nickname
Throughout his career, Mark has been given some playful nicknames such as 'The Quarterback' while playing football in college. During his time on NCIS, he was called 'Papa Smurf' by Sean Murray, his NCIS castmate.
Although, he said he has no idea how Murray came up with that nickname. In addition, he has been called a 'silver fox' several times, and he stated his nicknames on Centerstage were dorky.
If He Wasn't An Actor, He'd Be A Carpenter
If Mark wasn't an actor, he said he would most likely be a carpenter. He said, "I'd be a carpenter. I tried to do that, but I just couldn't get hired. For me, it was about the materials and doing it right.
If you did it right, the project outlasted you." He stated that he still enjoys carpentry when he has the time. In addition, he worked at an ad firm for about four years but quit the cushy job in order to pursue acting.
Mark Harmon's TV Shows Flopped For Years
Casting agents loved to book Mark as the lead of television shows, but his gigs were almost always short-lived flops. Before his massive success on NCIS, he starred as an animal control officer in Emergency!, but it was never picked up.
Then he starred as a cop in Sam, a search-and-rescue guy in 240-Robert, and as a senator on Flamingo Road. He also starred in Reasonable Doubts and Charlie Grace.
Mark Harmon Got His Boss Fired
Mark Harmon caused showrunner and creator Donald Bellisario to abruptly leave NCIS in 2007. Mark stated that he couldn't tolerate the work culture at NCIS under Bellisario's command.
The two men didn't get along behind the scenes, and Bellisario was forced to resign. The show continued with everyone happy and ran for a very long time, even generating spinoffs.
TV Movie Eleanor And Franklin: The White House Years
In 1977, Mark Harmon starred as Robert Dunlap, a soldier, in the made-for-television film Eleanor and Franklin: The White House Years. It is the sequel to Eleanor and Franklin and is a biographical film that chronicles the lives of the 32nd U.S. President and the first lady.
Both of the films were acclaimed and noted for historical accuracy. In addition, Mark received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie for his performance.
Comes A Horseman
In 1978, Mark Harmon starred as Billy Joe Meynert in the Western drama film Comes a Horseman. The film also stars James Caan, Jane Fonda, Jason Robards, and Richard Farnsworth.
The film is set in the 1940s and tells the story of two ranchers whose small operation is threatened by economic hardship, along with the expansionist dreams of a local land baron.
Mark Harmon played the role of Dr. Robert Caldwell in the television series St. Elsewhere in 1983. His character was a first for a primetime TV role. He played the role for almost three seasons until 1986.
His character contracted HIV, which was one of the first instances where a major recurring television character contracted the virus. Two years later, the character's off-screen death from AIDS was mentioned.
In 1988, Mark Harmon portrayed the character of SFPD Detective Jay Austin in the crime film The Presidio. He co-starred with Meg Ryan and Sean Connery.
The story follows a San Francisco police detective who is forced to work on a series of murders. The film received mixed reviews from critics, but it debuted at number four at the U.S. box office.
Harmon portrays Billy Wyatt in the 1988 coming-of-age romantic drama film Stealing Home. He starred opposite Jodie Foster, Blair Brown, Jonathan Silverman, William McNamara, and Harold Ramis. The story is about a failed baseball player who discovers that his childhood sweetheart has died by suicide.
He embarks on a journey to fulfill Katie's last wish, which was to spread her ashes. Unfortunately, the film was a critical and commercial failure, but it attained cult classic status and was praised by audiences.
NBC Series Reasonable Doubts
From 1991 until 1993, Mark Harmon starred as Chicago police detective Dickie Cobb on the NBC series Reasonable Doubts. The series is a police drama that was created by Robert Singer, and it ran for two seasons.
In it, Cobb works with the hearing-impaired assistant D.A., Tess Kaufman, on felony cases. "Although the opening story plays out somewhat illogically and clumsily, Reasonable Doubts has the essential elements of an appealing crime-based character study." ----- Howard Rosenberg, LA Times.
ABC Series Charlie Grace
Mark Harmon starred in the ABC series Charlie Grace in 1995 as Charlie, a private investigator. The series only lasted one season and followed Charlie as he got kicked off the force for busting fellow officers.
He was then a divorced private investigator who had to solve cases while he also took care of his daughter. After the series was canceled, Harmon returned to Chicago Hope as Dr. Jack McNeil from 1996 until 2000.
Harmon Started A Production Company Called Wings Productions
In 2014, Mark Harmon started a production company called Wings Productions. He started the company to produce NCIS: New Orleans. Harmon explained the inspiration for the company's name:
"My production company is named Wings after the 1927 William Wellman movie Wings. That's the first movie I remember, a silent film, and I just remember sitting there, being drawn into that TV set."
Married To Pam Dawber
Mark Harmon met his wife Pam Dawber in the early 1980s, and they were married on March 21, 1987. Their wedding was in the chapel at the Harvard-Westlake School in Studio City, California.
Mark was an alum and a 1969 graduate of the prestigious school. Dawber has stated that one of the reasons their marriage has survived is because they have remained low-key and have kept their personal business private.
Mark Has Two Sons
Mark Harmon and his wife Pam have two sons together. Sean Thomas Harmon was born in 1988, and Ty Christian Harmon was born in 1992. Sean has followed in his parents' footsteps as an actor and even played the younger version of Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs on NCIS.
However, Pam retired from acting when their sons were born. She said, "I had children, and it was like, 'I'm not going to chase this fame thing.' I wanted to drive my kids to school. I wanted to be there for their birthdays and bring cupcakes and doughnuts. And I was very happy to do it."
He Was Given A Leading Role In Flamingo Road
In 1980, Mark Harmon got a role in the primetime soap opera Flamingo Road. He played the character Fielding Carlisle, Morgan Fairchild's character's husband.
The soap opera was based on a 1942 Robert Wilder book of the same name. The show was initially popular, but it was canceled after just two seasons. It succumbed to being scheduled against the series Hart to Hart.
The Deliberate Stranger
Mark co-stars with Kirstie Alley in The Deliberate Stranger. It is a miniseries based on serial killer Ted Bundy and stars Mark Harmon as Bundy. It was adapted into a two-part TV movie and aired in 1986. However, the movie doesn't include Bundy's early life or his first six known victims.
The story starts with the murder of Georgann Hawkins and follows his crimes in Utah, Washington, Colorado, and Florida. Also in the movie were Frederic Forrest as the detective and George Grizzard as the reporter.
The Harmons Purposely Kept Their Children Away From The Limelight
Mark Harmon and his wife intentionally kept their children away from the limelight and have led very private lives. He said, "It's who we are. We stay home. A lot. I'm not a Twitter guy or a Facebook guy.
Our sons aren't into that either. Pam and I have both made a living in this business, and still, there's a part of that that's just not natural." In fact, very little is known about their marriage or their children.
The Harmons Have Only Worked Together Twice In Four Decades
Mark has only worked with his wife on-screen twice. The first time they worked together was in a movie titled I'll Remember April, and then later, Pam played the role of Marcie on NCIS.
In addition, they have done a theater production of Love Letters. However, Mark has stated that he and his wife do not want to work together, but the couple of times that they did work together, he said it was different and fun.
Mark Harmon Is Close To The Nelson Family
Mark Harmon had some luck with getting where he is today in his career. He can actually thank his sister Kristin. Kristin married Rick Nelson, a rock star and actor, on The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet.
He got close to Rick's parents and his brothers, Matthew and Gunnar Nelson. Then, Mark added more fame to the family when he married Pam Dawber from Mork & Mindy.
The Real Reason Why Mark Harmon's Character On The West Wing Died
Before Harmon starred on NCIS, he played Simon Donovan in The West Wing. He appears in the final four episodes of the series' third season as a Secret Service agent assigned to protect press secretary C.J. Cregg.
However, Simon is shot and killed when he tries to stop an armed robbery. The creator of the show, Aaron Sorkin, stated that he had to have Simon die as certain things in the show had to happen for a reason in order to bring it all together.
Mark Harmon's Attempt To Star In Another Drama Series Didn't Work Out
In 2011, Mark Harmon starred in Certain Prey, a made-for-TV movie, which is based on the Prey crime novels. It is about deputy police chief Lucas Davenport.
However, the series turned out to be a one-hit wonder and was Harmon's last character that he played other than Gibbs on NCIS. In 2018, CBS announced that they were going to revive the Prey concept, with Harmon on board as an executive producer.
First National TV Appearance Was In A Commercial For Kellogg's Product 19 Cereal
Mark Harmon's first national television appearance was in a commercial for Kellogg's cereal in 1972. He was in the commercial with his father, Tom, and in it, he played against his father in a pick-up game of basketball.
Tom narrated about teaching his son the values of working out. Mark later stated that he sheepishly let his father win the match-up because it was his basketball.
Harmon Made Guest Appearances On TV Series
Mark also made many guest appearances on television series such as Lavern & Shirley, The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries, and Delvecchio. In addition, he had guest roles in episodes of Police Woman, Emergency!, and Adam-12 in the mid-1970s.
In 1978, Mark appeared in three episodes of Centennial as Captain John MacIntosh, an honorable Union Cavalry officer. Finally, he appeared in 905-Wild, a pilot episode for a series about two L.A. County Animal Control Officers, which never made it to release.
Harmon Was Part Owner Of A Minor League Baseball Team
Mark Harmon also had a love for baseball, and in 1988, he was actually part owner of a minor league baseball team. He co-owned the team, the San Bernardino Spirit.
It was the same season that Ken Griffey Jr. was on the team before he joined the major league team, the Seattle Mariners. Harmon actually used the team and their home field, Fiscalini Field, for the opening and closing scenes in the film, Stealing Home.
Endorsements For Coors Beer
Before Mark Harmon became famous, he was the face of Coors beer and starred in more than twenty beer commercials during the early 1980s. One commercial shows Harmon fishing in a stream, discussing patients. "Patience. It's what struck me the most when learning about Coors beer. From the malting to the brewing, the aging. The whole process. They never hurry.
It takes about twice as long to make Coors as it does any other major beer. Yeah, they do take their time. But you can taste the difference right here. A beer that's a little less heavy, never bitter, with all the spirit and patience of a great beer. Coors is the one." In another ad, he is walking through a field of cows while discussing pasteurization, and another sees him walking through a park, discussing how Coors was his family's beer of choice.
Dated Actress Cristina Raines
Mark Harmon dated actress Cristina Raines before marrying his wife, Pam Dawber. Mark and Cristina both attended the 31st Annual American Cinema Editors Eddie Awards in 1981 in California.
They also acted together in the television series Flamingo Road. The two dated in the early 1980s, and they also appeared together on the miniseries Centennial and in an episode of The Love Boat.
What Mark Harmon Is Doing After NCIS
Mark hasn't made any career statements since he left NCIS, but he did stay on as a producer of the show. Sean Murray stated that Harmon still visits the NCIS set, and there have been rumors that he might return to the show someday.
So, Mark isn't retired completely, but he is taking more time for himself and his family. He is still producing, but there has been no indication of him acting again.
Mark Grew Up With A Football Star Father
Mark Harmon grew up with a well-known father. His father, Tom Harmon, was a sports figure and a Heisman Trophy-winning football player for the University of Michigan and the Los Angeles Rams.
He later became a spokesman and sports broadcaster. In addition, Tom was a World War II hero and an actor. His mother was an actress famous for her appearances in the Joe Palooka series of movies and her role in The Mummy's Tomb.
Harmon Has Starred In Several Stage Productions
Mark Harmon has also starred in several stage productions in Toronto and Los Angeles. He performed in Wrestlers and the Wager and in addition, in the late 1980s, he was part of the cast of the Canadian premiere of Key Exchange.
Several productions of Love Letters provided him with the opportunity to play alongside his wife, Pam Dawber. Most fans don't know that Mark was in stage productions throughout his career.
His Primary Home Has Been A Mansion In L.A.'s Brentwood Neighborhood
Two years after Mark and Pam were married, they bought a mansion in L.A.'s Brentwood neighborhood. They bought the home for four million dollars, but today, it is worth more than fifteen million dollars today.
The home was built in 1951 and has mountain and canyon views. Mark and Pam refused to tear the mansion down and instead remodeled and expanded it. The home is about eight thousand square feet, with five bedrooms and seven bathrooms.
Mark Harmon has been monumental in providing the spark needed to propel The Children's Center Rehabilitation Hospital in Bethany to a fundraising goal. He has sustained a sixteen-year charity mission in the area, raising more than one million dollars through the 'Pitch in for Kids' baseball charity game, auction, and bowling competition.
He has also supported charities such as Kids Wish Network, Ronald McDonald House Charities, Stand Up To Cancer, Clothes Off Our Back, and The Children's Center OKC.
Mark Harmon's Awards
Mark Harmon has received several awards and nominations, such as the People's Choice Award for Favorite Crime Drama TV Actor and the People's Choice Award for Favorite Dramatic TV Actor.
Also, the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series and the Prism Award for Male Performance in a Drama Series. Mark also received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2012.
Mark's Net Worth
Mark Harmon has a net worth of one hundred million dollars and has become one of the highest-paid actors on television. He received his acting credits but also receives producer credits and syndication royalties for each episode of NCIS.
He made more than half a million dollars per episode on NCIS, but his lifestyle doesn't represent the amount of money he actually has.
Writing For Gibbs Was Tough
It was no secret that Mark Harmon was the star of NCIS; he is a commanding presence even with a character who's a man of few words. He conveys more with a glance or a nod than some actors manage with a monologue. The show's writers found it hard to write dialog for the character, and oftentimes, the writers would do a 'Gibbs pass' before finalizing the script.
As far as Harmon coming back to NCIS, Steven Binder said, "There's always head space for him to come back. It just has to be the right story, I think, to get him excited about it and to get us excited about it. It's a card to play, and I don't think we want to play it cheaply. I think when we do play it, it really needs to be the right thing."
Mark Harmon Helped Launch NCIS: New Orleans
Mark Harmon headlines the NCIS flagship and is the executive producer for the show and its spinoff, NCIS: New Orleans.
He is a hands-on producer and worked closely with Gary Glasberg to develop the spinoff. He participated in making decisions regarding shooting locations, casting, and even music selection.