Mark Harmon was born on September 2, 1951, in Burbank, California. His father, Tom Harmon, was a sports broadcaster and his mother, Elyse Knox was a former actress. Tom Harmon also had been an All-American in the University of Michigan football program, as well as being a Heisman trophy winner. Mark was one of three children.
When Harmon was young he wanted to become a doctor, so he attended a junior college in Los Angeles, Los Angeles Pierce College. While there he became their football team’s quarterback. He then transferred to the University of California, Los Angeles. There he led their football team, the Bruins, to two successful seasons in 1972 and 1973. In 1973, Harmon was awarded the National Football Foundation Award for All-Around Excellence.
He still planned on attending medical school after graduation. This changed when he met, the actor, Ozzie Nelson, whose son married Harmon’s sister. Nelson offered Harmon a role in an episode of “Ozzie’s Girls,” in 1973. From this time Harmon dropped his plans to be a doctor and focused on his future as an actor. He went on to star in other various roles, including two that were produced and created by Jack Webb. Webb placed Harmon in a series, “Sam,” about a police officer and his K-9 partner, in 1977. Also in 1977, Harmon received an Outstanding Supporting actor Emmy for his role as a physically impaired veteran in “Eleanor and Franklin: The White House Years.”
Harmon continued to work in guest spots, miniseries, short-lived series and soap operas, then in 1983 he landed a role on “St. Elsewhere.” Harmon played Dr. Caldwell. He left the series in 1986 when his character contracted HIV, a controversial subject at that time.
Also in 1986 Harmon was named the Sexiest Man Alive by “People’ magazine. After St. Elsewhere, Harmon had several roles in Feature films, such as “Stealing Home” and “The Presidio,” in commercials and in television movies. He continued to acquire roles in television series like “Reasonable Doubts” and “Chicago Hope.” After an Emmy-nominated role in “The West Wing,” Harmon was asked to take the part of Special Agent Jethro Gibbs on JAG. This led to the spin-off “NCIS,” where he continues playing the role of Gibbs.
Through “NCIS”, Harmon has the opportunity to spend more time with his family and reduce the extra roles to only those that he is passionate about.
Harmon married actress Pam Dawber in 1987. They have two sons, Sean Thomas Harmon, and Ty Christian Harmon. Sean has been able to work with his father in several episodes of “NCIS.”