Mark Harmon is perhaps one of the most well-liked and famous people on television. Starring as Jethro Leroy Gibbs on NCIS for 19 seasons, the actor quit the show last year. However, time will tell if he will return, as Harmon has opened up for it.
Harmon has been married to his beloved wife, Pam Dawber, for decades. The two met at a party over 30 years ago, settled down, and raised a family. But besides the love of his life, other women also has also significantly influenced his life. That woman is Jamie Lee Curtis, with whom he shares a very special relationship.
When watching celebrity events such as the red carpet at the Academy Awards, sometimes, it’s incredible that every actor knows each other. One actor from your favorite show from the mid-90s suddenly appears to be best friends with that actress from your favorite film from last year – often it’s hard to wrap your head around how on earth they can know each other.
Mark Harmon & Jamie Lee Curtis
The simple reason might be that the entertainment industry is as big as the universe. Maybe you should take that statement with a pinch of salt, but you get the picture. Many actors didn’t become stars immediately, but, just as in many other fields of work, they had to fight to the top.
That meant doing low-budget films, television series, commercial work, or other stuff before getting that breakthrough. Moreover, as many of them have been working for decades as actors, two you wouldn’t picture together have inevitably met at some point.
Some friendships seem more surprising than others. One that does is the one between Mark Harmon and Jamie Lee Curtis. The two go way back – and are good friends today.
While they are great friends, the two have no history of dating, And in Mark Harmon and Jamie Lee Curtis’ case, there is a good reason for it.
Mark Harmon’s career began with roles in multiple television series such as 240 Robert and Flamingo Road and had a couple of appearances on The Love Boat. However, he got his significant breakthrough role when he became a series regular on the drama St. Elsewhere in 1983 and moved on to star in several films in the latter part of the 1980s.
Meanwhile, his wife, Pam Dawber, started working as a model while studying at Oakland Community College, and later on, she starred in television commercials and magazine advertisements.
Mark Harmon – wife Pam Dawber
After some smaller parts, Dawber got her big breakthrough in 1978, when she starred in the television Mork & Mindy alongside the late Robin Williams. She won the People’s Choice Award for Favorite Female Performer in a New TV Program 1979.
Dawber became well-known for her work on screen, but her interest in the business began to fade as she and Mark Harmon started dating.
They were both well-known actors when they met at a party thrown by a mutual friend, and soon after, they began.
In 1987, the couple tied the knot in an intimate wedding ceremony at a chapel at the Harvard-Westlake School in Studio City, California. Only a few friends and family members attended.
In 1988, the couple welcomed their firstborn son, Sean Harmon. The couple’s first child would pursue a career in acting and follow in his parents’ footsteps. Sean is best known for starring as the younger version of his father’s character, Leroy Jethro Gibbs, on NCIS and CSI: NY.
Mark and Pam have also raised another son, Ty Christian Harmon. Ty was born in 1992, and like the rest of his family, he ended up in the entertainment industry. But unlike other family members, Ty Christian stands behind the camera.
He works as a screenwriter but keeps a low profile. He’s perhaps best known for the Catholic Schoolgirl Chainsaw Showdown, which his brother Sean directed.
Mark Harmon decided to leave acting for his family
But no matter what the boys are up to, it is clear that they are supported and admired by their father, Mark. After their children were born, Pam wanted to focus on family life instead and gave up fame.
Her last acting job was in 1998 when she voiced Perdy on the animated television show 101 Dalmatians: The Series.
As producers recognized Mark Harmon’s outstanding acting qualities, he got more jobs. But at one point, after nearly two decades years in the business, it all became a bit too much. That’s when Harmon made a decision that changed the course of his life.
“I was directing a lot, I was doing a movie here or there, and we had this young family that was growing up, and I was missing a lot of [family time], he said, adding that it “was not OK.”
Mark was famous but ultimately missed things he couldn’t experience later in life.
“I was in the jungles of New Guinea making a not-very-good movie when my firstborn child took his first steps. No job is worth missing life’s important moments,” he said.
In the end, Pam and Mark Harmon, in one way, felt forced into keeping their relationship private.
“We’re not trying to keep something secret, but if you don’t want it totally exploited by the press, you have to,” Dawber told People.
“Choose the right person”
“It’s not even a choice. It’s who we are,” Mark said years later. “We stay home – a lot. I’m not a Twitter guy or a Facebook guy. Our sons aren’t into that either. Pam and I have both made a living in this business, and still, there’s a part of that, that’s just not natural.”
Mark Harmon and Pam Dawber have been married for over 30 years. And still, to this day, the two are deeply in love.
According to Harmon, there’s no quick answer or key to why their marriage is going so well. However, the fact that they married at a young age is something he believes was crucial.
“We were both in our 30s when we got married, so hopefully, the stupid stuff we did earlier. That’s probably the closest I have to what the key is,” Mark Harmon told People.
He doesn’t have a specific philosophy regarding his marriage, telling Larry King in a 2014 interview. However, he said he hopes people are smart enough to “choose the right person.”
So Mark Harmon and his wife Pam Dawber have been together for over 30 years. In fact, Jamie Lee Curtis has had quite the same experience when it comes to staying sincerely in love with her partner.
In 1984, she married Christopher Guest, and they’re still together today.
Jamie Lee Curtis – husband Christopher Guest
Christopher also works as an actor and is mainly known for his role in the 1984 film Spinal Tap. Though they dated for a while before marrying, Jamie Lee Curtis knew she was to marry him before they met.
“[Producer and co-writer of Halloween Debra Hill] and I were flipping through a Rolling Stone magazine when I turned to a photograph of three men,” Curtis wrote in a piece for Oprah.com.
“I looked at the man on the right, wearing a plaid shirt and a waggish smirk. I’d never seen him before, but I pointed at him. ‘I’m going to marry that man,’ I said to my friend.”
That person was Christopher, and they exchanged phone numbers through their agents.
However, he never called her, and Jamie began dating someone else. After dropping her then-date for a “friendly but final goodbye” at the airport, she went to a restaurant for dinner.
In July 1984, they had their first date – by December, the couple had tied the knot. Jamie Lee Curtis and Christopher adopted two children in the 1980s and 1990s, Annie (born in 1986) and Ruby (1996).
Ruby was previously known as Thomas and has come out as transgender.
“It was scary — just the sheer fact of telling them something about me they didn’t know,” Ruby told People in 2021. “It was intimidating — but I wasn’t worried. They had been so accepting of me my entire life.”
Mark Harmon & Jamie Lee Curtis’ special bond
So what’s their big secret to staying married for such a long time? According to Curtis, it’s pretty simple.
“Don’t get divorced,” she told Today. “It’s a fascinating thing. I could write a book on marriage called Don’t Leave.”
Mark Harmon and Jamie Lee Curtis have been happily married to their partners for years. But the two have formed many other exceptional bonds – and one is together.
In 2003, Harmon and Curtis shared the stage for the first time when they appeared in the hit film Freaky Friday, in which Harmon played the fiance of Jamie Lee Curtis’s character. It was the beginning of a great friendship that didn’t only exist on the screen.
“Mark Harmon was interesting because Tom Selleck was attached to play that part when Annette Bening was attached. He was very upfront with me. He called me when Annette dropped out, and he said, “Look, I was excited about the project, but I was really excited about the opportunity of working with Annette. So, I’m gonna back out.” And I was like, “Oh, I understand. No hard feelings,” and then we went out for Mark Harmon. As far as an older man, he was still considered to be like a heartthrob because women adored him,” Freaky Friday Director Mark Waters onc explained.
The film was a huge success and helped form Curtis and Harmon’s acting careers at the time. It made $160.8 million worldwide, and critics praised Curtis’ performance.
There was a time when Mark Harmon decided to take a step back to spend more time with his family. However, a quiet life at home would soon turn into something else.
He received the script for NCIS, a show about the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. Harmon was impressed with the often humorous writing and the character Leroy Jethro Gibbs.
NCIS aired for the first time in September 2003. Based on the already successful naval legal drama JAG, the series was an almost immediate success, with millions tuning in for the first episode. After that, NCIS became one of the most-watched shows globally, with millions tuning in each week.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, it’s licensed in over 200 countries today, with numerous CBS spin-offs such as NCIS: New Orleans, NCIS: Los Angeles, and NCIS: Hawaii.
The show has been nominated for three Primetime Emmys and won several other awards throughout its lifetime. Harmon himself was also nominated for several awards for his performances, winning the People’s Choice Award in 2017 for Favorite TV Crime Drama Actor, among others.
Even though NCIS turned into one of the most-watched shows on television, Mark Harmon had a hard time understanding how it was all possible.
“I don’t. You can’t. The international reach is staggering,” Harmon told TV Insider in 2017.
“It’s hard to walk through airports, even in the most out-of-the-way places, without being surrounded by people who love the show—and that’s nothing to complain about. I’ve done TV shows where I walk through airports apologizing.”
Mark Harmon said Jamie Lee Curtis is “terrific”
Mark Harmon became a big star of NCIS, but of course, his great friend Jamie Lee Curtis would also be a part of it, even though it was pretty small.
In season nine, the beloved actress was a guest star on the show, appearing as Dr. Samantha Ryan. Harmon loved working with his great friend again, and others thought the same.
“She’s terrific,” Harmon once said about Curtis’s appearance on NCIS. “I’ve known Jamie a long time. She’s a treat to have on set. The rest of the cast loves her and Gary Glasberg has created a role for her that made her want to come and play in the first place, which is rare. But she’s had a great time there, and I think she’d tell you that as well.”
“She’s a gift to have on the set,” Mark Harmon added. “And such a rare talent, and as a person, a good person and terrifically good at what she does. So, we’ve enjoyed having her.”
Mark Harmon wasn’t in the mix of picking Jamie Lee Curtis for a guest spot on NCIS. So when he finally found out, he sure was excited. The two have only good memories working together – and the NCIS job wasn’t different.
“Jamie’s great and I think we’re all glad that she’s coming to play with us in our little sandbox for a while … I look forward to it, absolutely,” he told Today in 2012.
“She’s a gift to have on the set,” Harmon said in another interview the same year. “Gary Glasberg has created a role for her that made her want to come and play in the first place, which is rare. But she’s had a great time there and I think she’d tell you that as well.”
“He makes me blush a little bit”
Of course, Jamie Lee Curtis loved working with her best pal.
“I’m not going to lie to you and say that this is a horrible, difficult job to ‘play’ with him. I’m happy to have it,” she told Entertainment Tonight.
“He makes me blush a little bit,” she added. “Because he’s just such a sweet guy.. I’m very fond of him and he’s fond of me,”
Mark Harmon told TV Equals about their friendship, “I’ve known Jamie a long time … [She is] such a rare talent, and as a person, a good person and terrifically good at what she does.”
In 2022, after working on NCIS for 19 seasons, Mark Harman decided to leave the show. Fans were shocked about the news, and many of his friends were too. Jamie Lee Curtis decided to take to Instagram when hearing of Mark’s decision to leave NCIS, praising him for his work.
“Just read that my friend, Mark Harmon, is leaving his leadership position [on NCIS]. One of the unexpected delights of my varied career was being able to do five episodes opposite him and his team in front of and behind the camera. My favorite line was when I was coming down from his bedroom, ‘Practice makes perfect.’ Certainly worked for him and his Jethro Gibbs character. Well done, Harmon. Gary would be/is so proud!” Jamie Lee Curtis wrote.
Just weeks ago, Jamie Lee Curtis revealed plans to make a sequel to Freaky Friday. Time will tell if she will get here best, Mark Harmon, on the project. But if not, hopefully, we will see them work together again soon!
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