NCIS star Mark Harmon and his longtime love, actress Pam Dawber, have become one of the longest-lasting relationships in Hollywood. Despite being one of the hottest couples of the '80s, they decided early on that their love story was really no one else's business.
Harmon grew up in Burbank, California, the son of actress Elyse Knox and collegiate football star and sports broadcaster, Tom Harmon. He ended up following in his father's footsteps as a football player at UCLA but ultimately, Harmon decided he wanted to be an actor, as did his sister Kelly. His other sister Kristin was married to singer Ricky Nelson, which helped Harmon get his start in the industry. Their connections helped him land his first TV role on Ozzie's Girls. After various guest-starring roles, Harmon finally booked a series regular role on the soap opera Flamingo Road.
By the '80s, Harmon became one of the biggest TV stars of the decade. His role as the plastic surgeon, Dr. Robert Caldwell on St. Elsewhere was incredibly popular as was his appearance on Moonlighting as Cybill Shepherd's love interest, Sam Crawford. Harmon was so hot he was even named People's Sexiest Man Alive in 1986.
But future wife Pam Dawber was also successful on the small screen. Dawber grew up in Detroit, Michigan, but decided to pursue a modeling career in New York. She gave acting a try and ended up screen testing for the Bewitched spinoff, Tabitha (Lisa Hartman landed the role). ABC was so impressed, iconic director Garry Marshall offered her a role opposite Robin Williams on Mork & Mindy despite having virtually no experience. Following that success, she even starred in her own CBS sitcom, My Sister Sam. Fans at the time quickly freaked over two of the most popular stars on television getting together.
After being introduced by a mutual friend, Harmon and Dawber decided that they wanted to keep their relationship private. Which is totally understandable considering they were one of the hottest couples at the time. They were married in 1987 in a private ceremony.
"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.
To this day, the couple remains incredibly tight-lipped about their personal lives. They happily enjoy being out of the spotlight with their two sons, Sean and Ty.
For nearly 20 years, Harmon has focused on his role in the massively successful NCIS franchise. After appearing on The West Wing (which earned him an Emmy Award nomination), he was offered a guest-starring role on JAG. The JAG creator was so impressed he decided to give NCIS special agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs his own TV series. The crime drama became so popular that it led to two spinoff shows were Harmon makes occasional appearances, NCIS: New Orleans and NCIS: Los Angeles.
Dawber's acting career has slowed down a bit since the '90s. She appeared in an episode of The Odd Couple in 2016 and reunited with her Mork & Mindy co-star Robin Williams in 2014 on The Crazy Ones.
When People Magazine asked Harmon about the key to his long-term marriage, he said it's really just that they were mature when they tied the knot.
"We were both in our thirties when we got married, so hopefully the stupid stuff we did earlier," he says. "That's probably the closest I have to what the key is."
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