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Gallery: Mark Harmon Styles
Date of Birth: 9/2/1951
Biography: 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.
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 (nee Elsie Lillian Kornbrath). 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. In UCLA's 1972 season he engineered a stunning upset of the two-time defending national champion, Nebraska Cornhuskers. He received the National Football Foundation Award for All-Round Excellence in 1973. In his two years as quarterback in coach Pepper Rodgers' wishbone offence, UCLA won 17 games and lost only 5. He graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in Communication cum laude in 1974.
Even though he considered "advertising or law" as careers after college, 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. 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.
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.
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 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 two of his former Chicago Hope co-stars, Rocky Carroll and Lauren Holly, both of whom played his superior; the NCIS director. (Holly played Director Jenny Shepherd, who was also Gibbs' former romantic partner; and Carroll, who is still on the show today, as 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.
He worked as a carpenter before making a success of his acting career. 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 1988), who played a young Gibbs in NCIS Season 6 Episode 4 and Episode 15, and Ty Christian Harmon (born 1992). Harmon dated singer Karen Carpenter in the 1970s. 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.
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.