Mark Harmon was born in Burbank, California, on September 2, 1951. The Harmons were a family of artists. His mother, Elyse Knox, and sisters, Kristin Neilson and Kelly Harmon, were all actresses. Mark Harmon’s father, Tom Harmon, was a successful football player and broadcaster.
Harmon took a liking to football from his father and was an excellent player in high school. He went on to play college football at UCLA and the University of California, where he received an award for all-around excellence from the National Football Foundation.
Besides playing football, Harmon learned woodwork and carpentry at his father’s workshop. Like any other young man trying to find his footing, Harmon toyed with the idea of venturing into advertising or becoming a lawyer. He worked as a merchandising director and in carpentry before settling on acting. His decision to become an actor was primarily influenced by his family. He first appeared on national TV as an actor alongside his father in a commercial.
Harmon landed his first acting job in an episode of Ozzie’s Girls, courtesy of his sister’s brother-in-law, Ozzie Nelson. He later made guest appearances in Adam 12, Policewomen, and Emergency episodes. His acting resume started building in 1977 when he won his first Emmy nomination for outstanding supporting actor in the movie “The White House Years.” Harmon starred as captain John Macintosh the following year in the captivating mini-series “Centennial.”
Harmon continued to make a name for himself by appearing in several TV series, Laverne & Shirley, Divecchio, The Hardy Boys, and Nancy Drew Mysteries. After appearing as a supporting actor in several movies, he bagged a lead role in “Prince of Bel-Air” (1986), acting alongside Robert Vaughn and Kirstie Alley.
Mark Harmon was named People Magazine’s sexiest man alive in 1986 due to his role in the TV series “St. Elsewhere,” which he says made him feel “silly.” He is a star in medical and law enforcement roles, probably because of his straightforward and assertive nature. Harmon played a detective in several movies and TV shows. He played detective Jay Austin in the movie “The Presidio” (1988), detective Dickie Cobb in “Reasonable Doubts” (1991), and a private investigator in “Charlie Grace” (1995), among others. Harmon starred in Chicago Hope as Dr. Jack McNeil and Dr. Robert Caldwell in St. Elsewhere (1982).
Mark Harmon’s big break in his acting career came in May 2002, when he played Secret Service Special Agent Simon Donovan in the TV series “The West Wing.” He got his second Emmy award nomination in 2006. Harmon plays a lead role as agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs on the hit TV series NCIS. His role as agent “Gibbs” has won him nominations for the People’s Choice Award six times. He also won an award for Favorite TV Crime Drama Actor in 2017.
Despite his massive success as an actor, Mark Harmon is also a family man. He loves watching TV, movies, and reading books. Like any other family, Harmon barbecues with his wife and sons, Ty and Sean, on Sundays. He has been married to actress Pam Dawber since 1987. Besides acting, the father of two loves carpentry and spends his free time in his workshop building boats.