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Mark Harman aka Leroy Jethro Gibbs

Posted by on Aug. 30, 2009 at 1:18 PM
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Biography for
Mark Harmon (I) More at IMDbPro »

Date of Birth

2 September 1951, Burbank, California, USA

Birth Name

Thomas Mark Harmon


6' (1.83 m)

Mini Biography

With an athletic father and an actress mother, it is no surprise Harmon played college football and has found success as one of TV's hunkiest actors. While most of his roles have relied on little more than good looks, Harmon was impressive as the suave doctor on "St. Elsewhere" (1982) who contracted AIDS.

IMDb Mini Biography By: Ray Hamel

Mini Biography

Son of Tom Harmon and Elyse Knox. Sister Kelly Harmon is the Tic-Tac model. Oldest sister is Kristin Harmon, painter and ex-wife of Ricky Nelson. That makes him the uncle of musicians Matthew Nelson and Gunnar Nelson of the band Nelson and the actress Tracy Nelson. In 1987 Harmon and his wife, Pam Dawber, sued his sister Kristin Harmon for custody of her youngest son, Sam.

IMDb Mini Biography By: <>

Pam Dawber
(21 March 1987 - present) 2 children


Harmon and Pam Dawber have two children: Sean Harmon born 25 April 1988 and Ty Christian Harmon born 25 June 1992.

Chosen as People Magazine's Sexiest Man Alive. [1986]

His godfather Forest Evashevski is in the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame.

Risked his life to save 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 car then pulled them free so they wouldn't be burned to death, while his wife Pam Dawber called 911. He made every effort to downplay his role in saving their lives. [1996].

Graduated cum laude from UCLA, 1974, with degree in communications. Also played quarterback for UCLA Bruins, 1972-73 winning National Football Foundation Award for all-round excellence.

Worked as a carpenter before he hit it big.

No relation to Angie Harmon.

His uncle, Ron Knox (his mother's brother), was also a college football star and played one season as a professional quarterback for the Chicago Bears.

Good friends with David Bortolucci.

Grandson of William Franklin Knox, United States Secretary of the Navy during World War II and Republican candidate for Vice President in 1936.

Father, Tom Harmon, played for the University of Michigan Wolverines and won the 1940 Heisman Trophy emblematic of the best player in the nation.

Personal Quotes

I'm in the business to push it. I'm not likely to be attracted to characters I've already done. I have to be almost frightened by the possibility of taking it on. Over the years I realise I must enjoy walking that edge, I keep doing it. It's why I like what I do. The only other job I've ever had that provides that time in the morning where you're going to work and you can't wait to get there and the sun's rising and you're moving toward something you look forward to getting up and doing every day was being a carpenter. And it was because you're doing something different every day.

by on Aug. 30, 2009 at 1:18 PM
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Replies (1-2):
by on Sep. 5, 2009 at 9:56 PM

they could not have picked a more perfect man for this role.

by Senior Director on Dec. 4, 2009 at 9:10 PM

Some more interesting bio on Mr. Harmon!

Mark Harmon’s breakout role in “St. Elsewhere” (NBC, 1982-88) launched the actor as a major eighties heartthrob, leaving him to enjoy decades of solid roles in crime and medical dramas before aging handsomely and authoritatively into military investigator Leroy Jethro Gibbs on the CBS sleeper hit “NCIS” (CBS, 203-). The former college football star’s appeal as a regular, laid back guy found a steadier audience on prime time, however, than on the big screen -- with the exception of leading roles in comedies like “Summer School” (1987) and “Freaky Friday” (2003). Harmon’s films were generally TV-produced Westerns and domestic movies-of-the week, where he occasionally challenged his image by portraying obsessive lovers or – in an Emmy-winning performance – as serial killer Ted Bundy. Offscreen, the non-controversial actor enjoyed a low-profile personal life and long marriage to actress Pam Dawber, only surfacing in gossip pages in 1996 after saving the lives of two car accident victims trapped in a burning vehicle near his home.

Los Angeles native Mark Harmon was born on Sept. 2, 1951 to Elyse Knox, a 1940s film actress, and Tom Harmon, a college football All-American and Heisman Trophy winner with a long career as a sports announcer on TV and radio. Only son Mark seemed headed in the same direction, landing a spot as starting quarterback on the UCLA Bruins in 1973 and 1974. During his senior year at college Harmon, who was working towards a degree in communications, became friends with TV legend Ozzie Nelson through his older sister Kristen – who would marry Nelson’s pop star son Ricky and gave birth to later 1980s recording star twins “Nelson.” (Harmon's younger sister Kelly would also achieve her own fame as the "Tic Tac" girl of '80s and '90s era TV commercials). Ozzie gave Harmon, who had never considered acting, a walk-on role on “Ozzie’s Girls” (Syndicated, 1972-73), which prompted the undergrad to start taking acting lessons.

He continued dramatic training after college graduation, when a series of jobs in advertising and as a representative for Adidas sneakers were not providing nearly the satisfying experience required by a former college sports star. While returning home from a sneaker-related business trip one night at the age of 24, Harmon decided he had had enough of the business world and wanted to instead pursue acting as a profession.

Young and athletic with his pretty-boy looks, Harmon experienced considerable casting luck right out of the gate; even more after “Adam 12” (NBC, 1968-1975) star Jack Webb suggested that he cut his long hair and shave off his moustache. He managed to supplement his job as a roofer with several TV guest spots a year on shows like “Emergency” (NBC, 1972-79) and “Laverne & Shirley” (ABC, 1976-1983) before his single scene as a one-legged veteran speaking with the First Lady in the 1977 ABC TV-movie "Eleanor and Franklin” earned him an Emmy nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

On a personal note, in 1978, Harmon married actress Pam Dawber, who was just breaking out herself for her co-starring role with Robin Williams on “Mork & Mindy” (ABC, 1978-1982). Harmon continued with guest TV spots until 1979 when he was cast as a lead on the short-lived cop show “240-Robert” (ABC, 1979-1980). A role as Morgan Fairchild’s suitably handsome and charming husband on the prime time soap “Flamingo Road” (NBC 1980-82) proved to be a much more substantial career vehicle for Harmon, leading to a run of TV films and his eventual casting as heartthrob plastic surgeon Dr. Bobby Caldwell on the hospital hit, “St. Elsewhere.”

The womanizing Caldwell was a perfect fit for Harmon’s good looks and easygoing manner. He suddenly found himself on the cover of teen magazines alongside Tom Selleck and Don Johnson as one of the era’s top sex symbols. But it was not just all beefcake in scrubs – the actor was called upon to deliver some serious dramatic chops in 1986 when his character was diagnosed with AIDS. It was one of the first times a television drama acknowledged this new, largely misunderstood disease; certainly one of the first to associate it with a heterosexual character. His character was subsequently written out at the end of his third season.

After Harmon was dubbed by People magazine as "The Sexiest Man Alive" in 1986, he risked his status even further when he decided to portray serial killer Ted Bundy in "The Deliberate Stranger" (NBC, 1986). It was an intense turnaround for an actor who had generally been seen as a nice guy, and the intensity of Harmon’s performance earned him a Golden Globe nomination. The actor enjoyed a 17-week run onstage in the critically-acclaimed “Wrestlers” – opposite unknown actor and future TV doctor himself, George Clooney – before easing back into weekly television in 1987 with a recurring role as Bruce Willis’ rival for Cybill Shepard’s affections in “Moonlighting” (ABC, 1985-89). It was the role of Sam the astronaut that for the first time angered fans, as his picture-perfect dream man seemed to pose a real threat to the longtime longed-for hook-up between Shepherd and Willis on the beloved show.

On the big screen, he landed a starring role as a laid-back coach turned remedial English teacher in Carl Reiner’s “Summer School” (1987). Despite lacking a comedic background, Harmon pulled off the role in the harmlessly funny teen romp in a way that encapsulated his appeal — his natural, easygoing manner and good looks made him the guy all the girls had a crush on and the guy that all the dudes wanted to watch a ball game with. This ability to attract both genders in different ways was a rare onscreen appeal – particularly the male contingent, who could have passed him off as just some pretty boy their girlfriend thought was hot. A high-profile ad for Coors beer further enhanced the image of the everyman and made men think he was a good egg.

Harmon had a few more film successes around the same time, including a pairing with Sean Connery in the modestly successful thriller "The Presidio"(1988) and one of his best dramatic performances in the little-seen drama "Stealing Home" (1988) opposite Jodie Foster. Regardless of the positive reception to Harmon’s feature films, he quietly returned to the realm of forgettable TV movies, with the exception of his starring turn as the notorious bank robber "Dillinger" (ABC, 1991). In 1991, he was back on the prime time schedule with a two-year run on the police investigation drama "Reasonable Doubts" (NBC, 1991-93). He snared minor roles in the feature Western "Wyatt Earp" (1994) and the Oliver Stone’s disturbing "Natural Born Killers" (1995), but again television seemed to be the medium where he stood out as lead player.

Offscreen, Harmon was generally a low-profile family man who seemed free of personal drama – however he did find himself in the center of a few highly-publicized incidents. In 1987, Harmon sued his sister Kristin for custody of her 13-year-old son Sam, who Harmon felt was not being adequately cared for following the death of the teen’s father Rick Nelson several years earlier and also because of his mother Kristin’s struggles with alcoholism. Sam remained in the care of his mother but the press spun the incident into a portrait of a show business family torn apart by tragedy. Two years later, Pam Dawber’s “My Sister Sam” (CBS, 1986-89) co-star Rebecca Schaeffer was murdered by a gun-wielding stalker. Because Schaeffer was more than a co-star, having been close with the couple and having lived in their home for a year, her death incensed Harmon and his wife to become outspoken advocates of gun control in her memory. Making headlines again in 1996 – this time for something a bit more positive – Harmon was able to avert disaster when he saved the lives of a pair of teenagers trapped in a burning car near his Brentwood home. Harmon reportedly broke the car’s windows with a sledgehammer and pulled them to safety, but shied away from the media attention that followed.

After doing time on the short-lived cop show "Charlie Grace" (ABC, 1995-96), Harmon received an offer to return the medical setting that had launched his career, so he joined the cast of "Chicago Hope" (CBS, 1994-2000). Harmon’s four-year run as orthopedic surgeon Dr. Jack McNeil in David E. Kelley’s Emmy Award-winning series established the actor as a dependable prime time mainstay, easily digestible by audiences as a detective, a doctor, or TV film villain.

“Chicago Hope” was cancelled in 2000, leaving Harmon to appear in the Tom Selleck Western “Crossfire Trail” (USA, 2001) before breaking a long absence from big screen comedy with supporting roles in “Freaky Friday” (2003) and “Chasing Liberty” (2004). Harmon’s versatility apparently broadening with age, his authoritative, suit-and-tie capabilities were tapped for a guest-starring role on “The West Wing” (NBC, 1999-2006) which earned him an Emmy nomination for the stint – his controlled, tough-as-nails character helping open up new possibilities for the handsomely aging actor.

The biggest of those possibilities began as a two-part special episode of the CBS drama “Jag” (NBC, 1995-96; CBS, 1997-2005) and evolved into a full-fledged spin-off series about the real life Naval Criminal Investigative Service, “NCIS.” With the series, Harmon had the chance to carry a very different kind of show than his earlier efforts, and to do so with a much more complex, realized character — Supervisory Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs, a former marine sniper and interrogation expert. The show was unexpectedly popular, thanks in part to its role as a “husband” programming alternative to “American Idol” (Fox, 2002- ) which shared the same time slot during the summer months.

  • Also Credited As:
    Thomas Mark Harmon
  • Born:
    September 2, 1951 in Burbank, California, USA
  • Job Titles:
    Actor, Director
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