Actor Mark Harmon and actress Pam Dawber tied the knot 31 years ago. If you know what a typical marriage in the show business is like, you will know that it is rare for people in the industry to last this long together. Dawber recently revealed their secret to a successful marriage… are you ready to hear it? It might even help your relationship in the future!
In all likelihood, you know Mark Harmon for his role in the long-running procedural drama, NCIS. The actor was born on September 2, 1951, in Burbank California to football star Tom Harmon and actress Elyse Know. Many wondered if he was going to follow in his father’s or his mother’s footsteps.
A TV Commercial
Harmon’s very first appearance on television was with his father. The two appeared in a commercial for Kellogg’s Product 19 cereal. It’s believed that Mark was able to get the part in the ad since his father had for a long time been the company’s TV spokesman.
Making his presence known in commercials didn’t end with Kellogg’s. In fact, Harmon worked with Coors beer to do more than 20 commercials in the 1980s. He became entrenched in the company that his face became the face of their brand of beer.
Before actually making it onto the big screen, Harmon worked for some time as a carpenter. As a way of alluding to this, his character in the show NCIS uses his basement to work on his hobby – carpentry.
When Harmon was in college, he was actually very successful when it came to football. Believe it or not, he turned down the opportunity to play professionally for the New England Patriots. Aside from not feeling that he was good enough, he also remarked that college was for studying and not for becoming a jock.
The 67-year-old man started acting back in the ‘70s. However, he only got his big break in the following decade. It was 1981 that he made an appearance in the television series Flamingo Road. Two years after this, he snagged the part of Dr. Robert Caldwell in St. Elsewhere. Did you know that he also portrayed Ted Bundy in the 1986 film called The Deliberate Stranger?
What A Man
As if there weren’t already women swooning over Mark Harmon in the 1980s, People magazine posted his face on the cover of their January edition. The headline read: “The Sexiest Man Alive”. He was getting all sorts of recognition at that point.
Getting His Big Break
After this, he managed to establish himself in the industry with his strong performances in productions like Chicago Hope, Reasonable Doubts, and The West Wing. Eventually, he got the part of Leroy Jethro Gibbs on NCIS and has been portraying the role since 2003. Of course, he always had his lovely wife by his side on his rise to stardom.
On the other hand, Pam Dawber was born in Detroit, Michigan on October 18, 1951. She actually got her start in the industry by working as a model. In 1987, People reported that she impressed everyone during Detroit fashion shows soon after she graduated from high school. She also worked by performing during auto trade conventions.
Change Of Plans
She also started to take up higher studies at Oakland Community College. Reports say that it was her plan to stay there for a while before transferring to a larger college to finish the degree. However, her plans changed after she and a friend went to New York City for a holiday vacation.
Going Into Modeling
What you need to know is that Dawber was urged to bring her modeling portfolio and apply at various agencies on this trip to NYC. Reportedly, it did not take a long time before one of them scooped her up. As a matter of fact, she got a deal with Wilhelmina! Soon enough, she began working for this agency.
Making Good Money
Dawber then started to shoot advertisement campaigns and appeared in magazine pages. It goes without saying that she was compensated well for her work! People said that she moved to the Empire State and made $50k each year for the work she did. The promising star also ended up on television commercials. However, she would soon make an important decision that changed her career for the better.
Breaking Into Acting
Pam Dawber must have been infected by the acting bug! She focused on this new profession. She decided to give Hollywood a shot, but not without first taking acting lessons and honing her vocal abilities. The effort and time she put into learning this craft paid off in no time.
Getting Her Big Break
What do you know – she ended up bagging a big role in the stage production of the comedy musical Sweet Adeline at the Goodspeed Opera House in Connecticut. In 1976, she got noticed by executives and asked her to try out for a part in Tabitha. Unfortunately, that did not work out for her.
Mork & Mindy
She believed that everything that happened to her happened for a reason, and she could not have been more right. Despite not making the cut for Tabitha, something better came along. She teamed up with Robin Williams on the TV show Mork & Mindy.
Big Television Star
Pam Dawber and Robin Williams had been relatively unknown talents in those days. However, things changed for them when they starred in the small screen series about an alien on Earth. The show enjoyed a very successful time on air from 1978 until 1982.
Out Of The Spotlight
Following the close of Mork & Mindy, Pam Dawber went on to star in My Sister Sam as Samantha ‘Sam’ Russell. After it came to an end in 1988, she decided to step away from the limelight. This was something completely new for her since she had been a central point of focus for so long.
Tying The Knot
You see, she and Mark Harmon decided to tie the knot in a private ceremony the year before that. The couple welcomed their child Sean on April 25, 1988. He was followed by another son, Ty, on June 25, 1992. Nearly three decades after they got married, the actress finally talked about their marriage.
Making It Work
When she was interviewed by Entertainment Tonight in 2016, Pam Dawber told everyone what made the relationship work so well. Since she and Mark were both famous celebrities, her greatest piece of advice surprised many people.
Telling The Truth
Rather surprisingly, she explained that the marriage is as strong as it is because she put the family first and left fame behind. She said, “I don’t think two people can work all the time in show business and stay married.” This is obviously not the case for many other Hollywood couples.
Established Family Woman
Pam Dawber mentioned that she was already an established actress when she decided to start a family, so it was not hard at all to step back from the entertainment industry. “I was in a number one show. I had my own deal. I got to do Broadway. I got to do musical theater. I got to do cartoon voices. I did everything you can do in this business, and then I had children, and it’s like, ‘I’m not going to chase this fame thing,’” she said.
Changing Her Priorities
She also revealed how much her priorities changed when motherhood came into the mix. Dawber explained, “I wanted to drive my kids to school. I wanted to be there for their birthdays and bring cupcakes and donuts and do the school festivals and all that, and I did.”
Dawber wanted to be as much of a mom for her kids as she could be. She went on to say, “I got to teach in their art class and so it was a different life then, and I was very happy to do it.” She had chosen the life path she wanted and she stuck to it.
Out Of The Limelight
The revelations came as a bit of a surprise because Mark Harmon and Pam Dawber are known for keeping their relationship on the down-low. They hardly talked about it with the press. Despite this, the 66-year-old actress said that this was important in keeping the marriage strong. They did not want to broadcast their family life to everyone, and she has certain disapproval for people who do otherwise.
“Notice you don’t see us in the magazines,” the mother-of-two pointed out when she was told that she and her partner were considered to be an “It” couple. She continued, “When you’re married, that’s real life. And to go and plaster your kids… I’m sorry. I’m not for that.”
Not For Public Consumption
Her attitude toward fame is not anything new, however. As a matter of fact, the two of them put in a conscious effort to keep the relationship safe from the public eye as soon as they got engaged. But not everybody was ready for that.
In 1987, in an interview with People, she said this: “We’re not trying to keep something secret, but if you don’t want it totally exploited by the press, you have to.” There’s so much truth in what she said, and we can see it all the time nowadays.
She Got Lucky
In the 1987 interview, she also readily admitted that she did not have a lot of luck in the relationship department until she got together with her now-husband. She also mentioned that she had “a bad love affair here and there” before she found her one true love.
How They Met
You might be wondering how Mark Harmon and Pam Dawber met, and the answer might seem rather ordinary. In March of 1986, the two made each others’ acquaintance at a social gathering that was hosted by a mutual friend of theirs.
As they say, the rest is history! Even though Mark Harmon and Pam Dawber seem to have relaxed a little bit when it comes to talking about their relationship, they still consider their privacy to be of utmost importance. When the two of them walked down the aisle in 1987, they opted for a small ceremony attended only by their closest friends and family members.
You might think otherwise, but Harmon, Dawber and their two children do not find it difficult to keep their private lives on the down-low. In November 2017, Harmon talked to TV Insider about this topic. The actor explained, “It’s not even a choice. It’s who we are. We stay home. A lot.” Aside from that, the two of them opted out of social media despite the pressure.
No Social Media
Pam Dawber and Mark Harmon decided to pass their outlooks on life onto their sons. The actor went on to explain by saying, “I’m not a Twitter… 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.”
Their sons, Sean and Ty, are now aged 30 and 26 years old, respectively. The elder brother has since entered the entertainment industry himself. As a matter of fact, he has appeared in various episodes of NCIS in a recurring role. Isn’t it fitting that he portrays the young version of his dad on the show? Dawber said that he has not watched any of her work before. However, she does not mind.
Just Their Mom
“My kids have never seen anything I’ve done. I’m just their mom. They don’t care about what I did. They care about what they are doing,” she explained to Entertainment Tonight, “They want their parents to care about what they are doing.”
Big Enough Dad
Dawber admitted that there are certain difficulties that her sons have had to deal with as the kids of celebrities. Most of it is due to Harmon’s success, so she chose not to add to this. “Their father is already iconic enough for two boys,” she said. “I am just the mom.”
Support From Their Fans
After she talked about how she and Harmon make the relationship work, their fans expressed support for the decision to opt out of the limelight. “Pam and Mark, my dream couple. They are so beautiful together,” a fan said. “Love the thought of them as a great Hollywood couple who are keeping it real.”
A different supporter said, “Mark is my favorite actor, and it’s excellent that Mark and Pam have such a beautiful relationship. Love you guys.” Another fan agreed, “Mark Harmon always kept his family away from his acting work. That is meritorious. Work and live your life without complications of the press.”
Even though Dawber chose to prioritize the kids, she kept taking on small roles in films and television shows afterward. In 2014, she did her Mork & Mindy co-star a solid by appearing in an episode of Robin Williams’ comedy show, The Crazy Ones. This happened in the same year that he passed away. When she was on Entertainment Tonight, she ended up in tears while she talked about her late friend.
“I hadn’t seen Robin for 20 years,” she explained. She went on, “I did that episode because I wanted to be with Robin. I wanted to see Robin. That was a gift. That was such a gift.” That last meeting would have to live on in her memory forever.
Her most recent acting credit was for a guest appearance in The Odd Couple, which was a tribute to Marshall, the creator of the original series who passed away in 2016.
Still On NCIS
On the other hand, Mark Harmon continues to impress everyone by starring in NCIS. The police procedural is now in its 16th season. Even though the couple hardly ever talks about their relationship, there is no doubt that they are still smitten with each other.
The Men Of The Past
This was what Dawber told InStyle: “He’s one of those guys who makes you say, ‘They don’t make them like that anymore.’” Mark Harmon truly is a remarkable man, but he has become who he is today with thanks, of course, to a certain woman who has been in his life.
Love Of His Life
There is no arguing that Pam Dawber is the love of his life. However, the two of them are not childhood sweethearts. We will have you know that the two of them did not marry until they were 35 years old. Harmon said that another thing that helped the marriage was the fact that they got together a little later in life.
Got The Timing Right
In February 2019, the actor was interviewed by People. It was around this time that he explained how beneficial the timing of the relationship had been. He explained, “We were both in our thirties when we got married, so hopefully the stupid stuff we did earlier. That’s probably the closest I have to what the key is.”
We know that you are probably under the impression that the two of them make up the ideal couple. However, they still have their differences just like any other couple out there. The NCIS star has mentioned that it is not a bad thing not to see eye to eye, however. He said that Pam Dawber actually disapproved of one of the biggest decisions he ever made when it comes to his career.
In 1987, Mark Harmon went on to star in a comedy film called Summer School. In it, he played a teacher who got stuck teaching in, of course, a summer school. Of course, he needed to help apathetic kids pass a very important test. Even though this Carl Reiner film made it big, Pam Dawber had expressed opposition when her husband wanted to join the cast of the movie.
Working With Carl Reiner
Apparently, Harmon had been excited to team up with the director of the film. In an interview with People, he explained, “I wanted to do it just because I was excited to work with Carl Reiner. That was a game changer for me, like, ‘He thinks I can do this?!’ and that meant a lot.”
“Pam said, ‘Don’t do that. Don’t do this movie,’” he went on. He ended up doing the opposite of her wishes, but he still considers it a good thing that they do not always agree on things. He continued, “We don’t generally like the same thing, and that’s been healthy for us, actually.”
At any rate, that was not the only thing about his personal life that the actor talked about in this rare candid interview. As a matter of fact, the typically private star ended up talking about another aspect of the marriage. He talked about the striking ring that he seems to prefer wearing over his wedding band.
If you have never seen it before, this ring has been designed to look just like an eagle’s head. Apparently, he does not know for sure where the piece of jewelry came from. Regardless, this is a ring that has special importance for him. He explained to People, “We think it was my grandfather’s because it was in a box of things that my dad left.”
Even though Harmon does not always have a traditional band on his hand, it is still somewhat important for him to keep a ring on the wedding finger. However, there are exceptions to the rule. For one thing, he does not have anything on that finger when he is filming a project.
Still A Married Man
Even though Mark Harmon removes his ring when he is filming, for obvious reasons, he still makes sure that everyone knows that he is happily married to his wife. It’s not that he just admits that he is married, he takes a little further than that.
Showing Her Off
As a matter of fact, the actor likes to show off that he is a married man. What can we say – he is clearly happy to be married to Pam Dawber! Mark Harmon told People, “I wear it or a few others I have because when I’m not shooting, I like to make sure I have something on my ring finger, because I’m proud to be married, and I’m proud of who I’m married to. I’m just so proud of her.”
Walk Of Fame
On October 1st, 2012, Mark Harmon was given the great honor of getting a star on the famous Hollywood Walk of Fame. His star can be seen in front of 6253 Hollywood Boulevard. Even though he has kept his personal life private, he was happy to receive this honor.
Like most Hollywood personalities and relationships, there are rumors flying around that suggest the couple is falling apart. Rumors that they were going to get divorced have been quickly debunked by the happy couple.
Dedicated To His Work
If there’s something we’ve learned about Mark and Pam, it’s that they are dedicated to making things work. This same dedication can be seen in the way that Mark would prepare for roles in movies and shows. He actually studied American Sign Language to improve his work.
Not Always Easy
Things have not always been easy for the couple. At one stage Mark had to file for custody of his sister’s son since she was deemed incapable of looking after her own son. A psychiatrist testified that the boy best depicted his mother as a dragon. Eventually, the custody bid was dropped and nothing came of it.
A Real Sweetheart
As a way to make some money for himself when he was 16 years old, Mark Harmon would deliver flowers in his neighborhood. On one occasion, he was sent to deliver flowers to his best friend’s girlfriend’s house. He noticed that the name of the sender was not his friend’s, so he removed the card and replaced it with one that he signed on behalf of his best friend.
Their Net Worth
Even though they are married to each other, they each have their own significant net worth that they can be proud of. Mark Harmon is worth an estimated $50 million, and his wife, Pam Dawber is supposedly worth $10 million.