Mark Harmon

Mark Harmon
Mark Harmon
Born Thomas Mark Harmon
September 2, 1951 (1951-09-02) (age 60)
Burbank, California, U.S.
Occupation Actor
Years active 1973–present
Spouse Pam Dawber (m. March 21, 1987 – present)
Children Two sons (Sean and Ty)
Mark Harmon
UCLA BruinsNo. 7
Quarterback 1972–1973
Major: Communications
Date of birth: September 2, 1951 (1951-09-02) (age 60)
Place of birth: Burbank, California
Height: 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m) Weight: 185 lb (84 kg; 13 st 3 lb)
Career history
High school: Harvard School for Boys
Los Angeles, California
Career highlights and awards

Mark Harmon (born September 2, 1951) is an American actor who has been starring in American television programs and films since the mid-1970s, after a career as a collegiate football player with the UCLA Bruins. Since 2003, Harmon has starred as Leroy Jethro Gibbs in the CBS series NCIS.


Early life

Harmon was born Thomas Mark Harmon in Burbank, California. His father was University of Michigan football All-American and Heisman Trophy winner, Tom Harmon. His mother is actress and artist, Elyse Knox (née Elsie Lillian Kornbrath).[1] Harmon has two older sisters, actress and painter Kristin Nelson, the former wife of singer Ricky Nelson, and actress Kelly Harmon, who was once married to car magnate John DeLorean.

After attending Los Angeles Pierce College as a student and quarterback, Harmon transferred to the University of California, Los Angeles, and following in his father's athletic footsteps was the starting quarterback for the UCLA Bruins football team in 1972 and 1973.[2][3] In UCLA's 1972 season he engineered a stunning upset of the two-time defending national champion, Nebraska Cornhuskers.[4][5] He received the National Football Foundation Award for All-Round Excellence in 1973.[2][6] In his two years as quarterback in coach Pepper Rodgers' wishbone offense, UCLA won 17 games and lost only 5. He graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in Communication cum laude in 1974.


Mark Harmon in 2009 portraying Special Agent Gibbs in NCIS

Even though he considered "advertising or law" as careers after college,[7] Harmon became an actor and has spent much of his career portraying law enforcement and medical personnel. Other than athletics/sports appearances, one of his first national TV appearances was with his father Tom Harmon, in a commercial for Kellogg's Product 19 cereal, for which the latter was the longtime TV spokesman. As an actor, his first credit came courtesy of his sister Kristen's in-laws, Ozzie Nelson and Harriet Nelson, in an episode of Ozzie's Girls. This was followed by guest-starring roles on episodes of Adam-12 and Emergency! in mid-1975 (the Emergency! episode that Harmon starred in, "905-Wild", centered on two L.A. County Animal Control Officers, and was a pilot episode for a possible new series, which did not sell). Producer/creator Jack Webb, who was the packager of both series, later cast Harmon in Sam, about an LAPD officer and his K-9 partner, in 1978. In 1979, he starred in the action series 240-Robert as Deputy Dwayne Thibideaux, which centered around the missions of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Emergency Services Detail.

After several years of supporting guest roles on episodic television shows such as Police Woman, Laverne & Shirley and The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries, Harmon landed his first prominent role in the 1980 primetime soap opera Flamingo Road, where he played Morgan Fairchild's husband Fielding Carlisle. The series was short-lived, however, and following its cancellation, he landed the role of Dr. Robert Caldwell on the prestigious NBC Emmy-winning series St. Elsewhere in 1983. In 1986, Harmon left the series as his character contracted HIV through unprotected heterosexual intercourse - a storyline that was notable for being one of the first instances where a major recurring character contracted the virus (the character's subsequent off-screen death from AIDS would be mentioned two years later). In the mid '80s, Harmon became the spokesperson for Coors Regular beer.[8]

He portrayed serial killer Ted Bundy in the 1986 television movie The Deliberate Stranger. Following this, Harmon had a limited engagement on the series Moonlighting, playing Cybill Shepherd's love interest Sam Crawford for four episodes in 1987. Harmon's next regular television role would be as Chicago police detective Dickie Cobb for two seasons (1991–1993) on the NBC series Reasonable Doubts. In 1993, he appeared in one episode in the role of a rodeo clown on the CBS comedy/western series Harts of the West with future cast mate Sean Murray, who plays McGee on NCIS.

Harmon appeared in Charlie Grace, portraying a private investigator, a series which lasted one season on ABC. He returned to ensemble medical shows on the series Chicago Hope, in which he played Dr. Jack McNeil from 1996-2000. He also portrayed astronaut Wally Schirra in the miniseries From the Earth to the Moon.

In May 2002, he had a limited four episode run playing Secret Service Special Agent Simon Donovan on The West Wing. Harmon took a lead role in two episodes of JAG in April 2003, which introduced viewers to him in the role of NCIS agent Gibbs. Since 2003, Harmon has starred as NCIS Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs in CBS' drama television show NCIS. During his time on the show, he was reunited with three of his former Chicago Hope co-stars, Rocky Carroll, Lauren Holly, and Jayne Brook. Carroll and Holly both played his superior, the NCIS director. (Holly played Director Jenny Shepherd, who was also Gibbs' former romantic partner; Carroll, who is still on the show today, plays Director Leon Vance.)

Harmon has also made several television and theatrical films throughout his career. In the late 1970s, he had supporting roles in Comes a Horseman and Beyond the Poseidon Adventure. His most prominent starring roles were in the 1986 romantic comedy Prince of Bel Air and 1987 comedy Summer School in both of which he co-starred opposite Kirstie Alley, and the 1988 thriller The Presidio in which he co-starred with Sean Connery and Meg Ryan. In 2003, he played Ryan in the movie Freaky Friday. Harmon was named People magazine's Sexiest Man Alive in 1986.

Harmon also starred in several stage productions in Los Angeles and Toronto. Los Angeles' The Cast Theatre saw him perform as Bobby in Wrestlers as well as in The Wager. In the late eighties he was part of the cast of the Canadian premier of Key Exchange. Several productions of Love Letters provided him the opportunity to play alongside his wife Pam Dawber.

Awards and nominations

Primetime Emmy Awards

  • 1977: Nominated, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie - Eleanor and Franklin: The White House Years
  • 2002: Nominated, Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series - The West Wing

Golden Globe Awards

  • 1986: Nominated, Best Actor in a Miniseries or Television Film - The Deliberate Stranger
  • 1987: Nominated, Best Actor in a Miniseries or Television Film - After The Promise
  • 1991: Nominated, Best Actor in a Television Series Drama - Reasonable Doubts
  • 1992: Nominated, Best Actor in a Television Series Drama - Reasonable Doubts

Screen Actors Guild Awards

  • 1996: Nominated, Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series - Chicago Hope
  • 1997: Nominated, Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series - Chicago Hope

People's Choice Awards

  • 2010: Nominated, Favorite TV Drama Actor - NCIS
  • 2011: Nominated, Favorite TV Crime Fighter - NCIS

Personal life

He worked as a carpenter before making a success of his acting career.[9] On NCIS, his carpentry skills are alluded to through Gibbs' (his character) hobby of building boats in his basement.

Harmon has been married to actress Pam Dawber since March 21, 1987. The couple has two sons: Sean Thomas Harmon (born April 25, 1988), who played a young Gibbs in NCIS Season 6 Episode 4 and Episode 15, Season 7 Episode 16 and Season 9 Episode 8, and Ty Christian Harmon (born June 25, 1992).[10] Harmon was the brother-in-law of Ricky Nelson and is the uncle of actress Tracy Nelson and singers Matthew and Gunnar Nelson of the pop duo Nelson. Harmon dated singer Karen Carpenter in the 1970s.[11] He is one of the first winners of People Magazine's "Sexiest Man Alive" award.

In 1987, Harmon tried to gain custody of his nephew Sam based on grounds that his sister Kris was incapable of good parenting. Sam's psychiatrist testified the thirteen-year-old boy depicted his mother as a dragon, and complained about her mood swings and how she prevented him from being with his siblings. Harmon later dropped the custody bid.[12][13]

In 1996, Harmon saved two teenage boys who were involved in a car accident outside of his home. Harmon used a sledge hammer from his garage to break the window out of their burning car, then pulled them free from the flames.[14]


Year Title Role Other notes
1973 Ozzie's Girls The Candidate
1975 Emergency! Officer Dave Gordon Episode: "905-Wild"
Adam-12 Officer Gus Corbin Episode: "Gus Corbin"
Police Woman Paul Donin Episode: "No Place to Hide"
1976 Laverne & Shirley Victor, Jeep Buyer Episode: "Dating Slump"
All's Fair Episode: "Jealousy"
Police Woman Stansky Episode: "Tender Soldier"
Delvecchio Ronnie Striker Episode: "Hot Spell"
1977 Eleanor and Franklin: The White House Years Robert Dunlap TV movie
Nominated — Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor – Miniseries or a Movie
The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries Chip Garvey Episode: "Mystery of the Solid Gold Kicker"
1978 Sam Officer Mike Breen 7 episodes
Getting Married Howie Lesser TV movie
Little Mo Norman Brinker TV movie
Comes a Horseman Billy Joe Meynert
1978–1979 Centennial Captain John McIntosh 3 episodes
1979 Beyond the Poseidon Adventure Larry Simpson
1979–1983 The Love Boat Doug Bradbury 3 episodes
1979–1980 240-Robert Deputy Dwayne "Thib" Thibideaux Main character, 13 episodes
1980 Flamingo Road Fielding "Field" Carlyle TV movie
The Dream Merchants Johnny Edge
1981 Goliath Awaits Peter Cabot TV movie
1981–1982 Flamingo Road Fielding "Field" Carlyle Main character, 37 episodes
1983 Doctor in Paradise Tommy
1983–1986 St. Elsewhere Dr. Robert Caldwell Main character, 70 episodes
1984 Desert Warrior Gacel Sayah
1986 Prince of Bel Air Robin Prince TV movie
The Deliberate Stranger Ted Bundy TV movie
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film
Let's Get Harry Harry Burck, Jr.
1987 Moonlighting Sam Crawford 4 episodes
Summer School Freddy Shoop
After the Promise Elmer Jackson TV movie
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film
1988 The Presidio Jay Austin
Stealing Home Billy Wyatt
1989 Sweet Bird of Youth Chance Wayne TV movie
Worth Winning Taylor Worth
1990 Till There Was You Frank Flynn
Kenny Rogers Classic Weekend Himself
1991 Dillinger John Dillinger TV movie
Fourth Story David Shepard TV movie
Long Road Home Ertie Robertson TV movie
Shadow of a Doubt Uncle Charlie Oakley
Cold Heaven Alex Davenport
1991–1993 Reasonable Doubts Detective Dicky Cobb Main character, 45 episodes
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Drama (1991)
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Drama (1992)
1993 Harts of the West Rodeo clown Episode: "The Right Stuff"
1994 Natural Born Killers Uncredited
1994 Wyatt Earp Sheriff John Behan
1995 Original Sins Johnathan Franye TV movie
Magic in the Water Jack Black
The Last Supper Dominant Male
Charlie Grace Charlie Grace Main character, 6 episodes
Acts of Contrition Jonathan Frayne Movie
1996 Strangers Mark Episode: "Visit"
1996–2000 Chicago Hope Dr. Jack McNeil Main character, 95 episodes
Nominated — Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series (1996)
Nominated — Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series (1997)
1997 Adventures from the Book of Virtues Ulysses Episode: "Perseverance"
Casualties Tommy Nance
The First to Go Jeremy Hampton
1998 From the Earth to the Moon Wally Schirra 2 episodes
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas Magazine Reporter at Mint 400
1999 I'll Remember April John Cooper
2000 For All Time Charles Lattimer
The Amati Girls Lawrence
2001 Crossfire Trail Bruce Barkow
And Never Let Her Go Thomas Capano TV movie
The Legend of Tarzan Bob Markham (voice) Episode: "Tarzan and the Outbreak"
2002 Local Boys Jim Wesley
The West Wing Special Agent Simon Donovan 4 episodes
Nominated — Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor – Drama Series
2003 JAG Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs 2 episodes (NCIS pilot episodes)
Freaky Friday Ryan
2003–present NCIS Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs Current main character, every episode
Nominated — People's Choice Award – Favorite TV Drama Actor (2010)
Nominated — People's Choice Award – Favorite TV Drama Crime Fighter (2011)
2004 Chasing Liberty President James Foster
2009 Weather Girl Dale
2010 Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths Superman (voice) Direct-to-DVD release
2011 John Sandford's Certain Prey Deputy Police Chief Lucas Davenport TV movie


  1. ^ the daughter of Frederick and Elizabeth Kornbrath, 1920 U.S. Census, Hartford, Hartford County, Connecticut
  2. ^ a b "Florida Citrus Sports Foundation Endows NFF Scholar-Athlete Award". National Football Foundation. 2003-11-12. Retrieved 2008-04-14. 
  3. ^ "Mark Harmon Biography". Retrieved 2008-08-25. 
  4. ^ Fricke, Mark (1999-06-01). "The Devaney Era: The Day The Three-Peat Died: 1973 Nebraska - UCLA Game". Husker Press Box. Retrieved 2008-04-14. 
  5. ^ Deitsch, Richard (2006-05-11). "Q&A: Mark Harmon". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 2008-04-14. 
  6. ^ "Mark Harmon: Biography". TV Guide. Retrieved 2008-04-14. 
  7. ^ "What Generation Gap? These Grads Feel Great About Their Famous Parents" People, 3 June 1974.
  8. ^ Dougherty, Philip H. (1987-03-20). "Advertising; Coors Beer Takes On New York". The New York Times. 
  9. ^ Mark Harmon at the Internet Movie Database
  10. ^ "In Step with... Mark Harmon". Parade (ndg)
  11. ^ "Did You Know? Tid-bits you might not know about Karen Carpenter". Retrieved 2008-04-14. 
  12. ^ Bashe, Philip (1992). Teenage Idol, Travelin' Man: The Complete Biography of Rick Nelson. New York: Hyperion. ISBN 1-56282-969-6. 
  13. ^ Selvin, Joel (1990). Ricky Nelson: Idol for a Generation. Contemporary Books, Inc.. ISBN 0-8092-4187-0. 
  14. ^ Yavapai County, Arizona Daily Courier, January 4, 1996.

External links

Preceded by
Mel Gibson
People's Sexiest Man Alive
Succeeded by
Harry Hamlin

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Look at other dictionaries:

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