Mark Harmon Biography

Mark Harmon is an American actor, best-known for the shows like ‘St. Elsewhere’ and ‘NCIS’. Explore this biography to learn more about his childhood, life, works, achievements and timeline.

Quick Facts

Birthday: September 2, 1951

Nationality: American

Famous: Quotes By Mark Harmon Actors

Age: 68 Years, 68 Year Old Males

Sun Sign: Virgo

Also Known As: Thomas Mark Harmon

Born in: Burbank, California, U.S.

Famous as: American television actor

Height: 6'0" (183 cm), 6'0" Males


Spouse/Ex-: Pam Dawber

father: Tom Harmon

mother: Elyse Knox (née Elsie Lillian Kornbrath)

siblings: Kelly Harmon, Kristin Nelson

children: Sean Harmon, Ty Christian Harmon

U.S. State: California

More Facts

education: Los Angeles Pierce College University of California

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Mark Harmon is an American actor and has starred in a number of films, television shows and stage productions. His ability to dabble with a number of roles, both vivid and banal, with professionalism, sets him apart from others. This Emmy-nominated actor was offered his first acting gig in ‘Ozzie’s Girl’s and from then on, there was no looking back. Acting, above everything else, became his prime focus in life and he has left an indelible impression on the viewers. Be it the Special Agent, Leroy Jethro Gibbs on the military drama, ‘JAG’ or Dr. Robert Caldwell in the Emmy Award-winning show, ‘St. Elsewhere’, he has played all his roles with great finesse and confidence. Before his career as an actor took off, he was briefly a part of the UCLA Bruins league as a collegiate football quarterback. He has portrayed a number of characters ranging from a police detective, to a psychopath murderer and to a doctor. It speaks volumes about his versatility. This heart-throb not only captured the fancy of millions of teenage girls during his prime, but also became the inspiration for a number of promising actors who wished to emanate charisma and perfectionism the way he did.

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Childhood & Early Life
  • Mark Harmon was born in Burbank, California. He was the youngest of the three children born to Tom Harmon and Elyse Knox. He is of Austrian descent though he claims to have renounced his Austrian ‘past’ and to have adopted the American life from a very early age.
  • He graduated from high school in 1970 and completed his junior college education at Pierce College, Los Angeles.
  • After getting his associate’s degree, he transferred to the University of California, where he started playing for the UCLA Bruins football team as a quarterback in 1972.
  • He graduated with a BA in Communication ‘cum laude’, in 1974, and after his graduation, he considered taking up advertising or law as a career option. However, fate had other plans for him and he was cast in his first commercial for Kellogg’s cereal, which also became his first national TV appearance.
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  • His first role for a series in television, ‘Ozzie’s Girls’ was offered by his sister Kristen’s in-laws, Ozzie Nelson and Harriet Nelson. Word of his raw talent spread and he swiftly bagged guest-roles on episodes of other shows including, ‘Emergency!’, ‘Police Woman’ and ‘Adam-12’.
  • He was cast in the TV Movie, ‘Eleanor and Franklin: The White House Years’, for which he received critical acclaim. In 1978, he was cast as Captain John Macintosh for the acclaimed mini-series, ‘Centennial’.
  • The same year he was cast in a feature film, ‘Comes a Horseman’ and the following year, he landed a role in ‘Beyond the Poseidon Adventure’. In 1980, he received a major role in the primetime soap opera, ‘Flamingo Road’, where he portrayed the role of Fielding Carlisle.
  • His second breakthrough role, following the cancellation of ‘Flamingo Road’, was in the Emmy Award-winning show, ‘St. Elsewhere’ as Dr. Robert Caldwell in 1983. Through the 1980s, his acting career reached great heights as he got to play important roles in the films like ‘Let’s Get Harry’ and ‘Summer School’.
  • He returned to TV movies in the late 1980s and acted alongside Meg Ryan and Sean Connery in the film, ‘The Presidio’ in 1988 and alongside Jodie Foster in, ‘Stealing Home’. Despite his burgeoning talent, his career never really gathered impetus, but his efforts and his acting abilities were taken notice of and lauded by critics and audiences.
  • He was cast as the Chicago police detective, Dickie Cobb for the NBC series, ‘Reasonable Doubts’ from 1991-1993 and in 1995, he played the role of an investigator for the ABC series, ‘Charlie Grace’.
  • After a number of roles in popular shows like ‘Chicago Hope’, ‘The West Wing’ and ‘From the Earth to the Moon’, the third major leap in his career came with the role of special agent, Leroy Jethro Gibbs for the show, ‘JAG’ and ‘NCIS’, which was broadcast in 2003.
  • In 2003, he appeared in a supporting role in the remake of the comedy film, ‘Freaky Friday’ and continued making appearances in a number of stage productions in and around the United States.
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Major Works
  • His portrayal of Dr. Caldwell in the medical drama, ‘St. Elsewhere’, earned him widespread recognition around the world. He played the role of a surgeon who helped promote awareness about AIDS but ended up contracting the disease himself. This story of the quintessential heterosexual, became one of the most popular shows on television and earned him a permanent place in People’s Magazine as the ‘Sexiest Man Alive’ in 1986.
Awards & Achievements
  • He won the National Junior College Athletic Association All-American Award, in 1971.
  • He won the National Football Foundation Award for All-Round Excellence in Football, in 1973.
Personal Life & Legacy
  • In 1986, he began dating actress, Pam Dawber and the couple got married in 1987 in a small and closely-guarded ceremony. The couple had two children - Sean Thomas Harmon and Ty Christian Harmon
  • In 1987, he filed for custody of his nephew Sam, claiming his sister Kris was incapable of good parenting but later dropped the custody bid.
  • This popular Hollywood actor of ‘St. Elsewhere’ fame rescued two teenage boys from a car accident outside his home. He used his mallet to break through the glass and pulled the boys out to safety.
  • Although this American actor dreamt of pursuing a career in advertising or law, he was, in fact, a carpenter before he got into acting. On the popular show, ‘NCIS’, he is seen in a couple of episodes exhibiting his carpentry skills.

1. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)

  (Drama, Adventure, Comedy)

2. Natural Born Killers (1994)

  (Drama, Crime)

3. Wyatt Earp (1994)

  (Drama, Western, Crime, Biography, Adventure)

4. Stealing Home (1988)

  (Romance, Sport, Drama)

5. Comes a Horseman (1978)

  (Drama, Western, Romance)

6. Summer School (1987)

  (Romance, Comedy)

7. Sonic Boom (1974)

  (Comedy, Short)

8. The Presidio (1988)

  (Action, Thriller, Crime, Mystery)


People's Choice Awards
2017 Favorite TV Crime Drama Actor Winner

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Last Updated
- July 26, 2017
Mark Harmon

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