Mark Harmon and Pam Dawber are both successful Hollywood actors. While Harmon has been a favorite on TV’s “NCIS” for nearly 20 years, Dawber made a bigger impression in the 1980s when she starred opposite Robin Williams in “Mork & Mindy.” Although notoriously private, recently the couple opened up about their family, including their two sons, and why Dawber chose them over fame:
Actor Mark Harmon has been a fixture on television for over 50 years. Most known for his role as special agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs on “NCIS,” who he played for 18 full seasons of the show, Mark has also appeared on a host of other well-loved TV shows. These include “The West Wing,” “St. Elsewhere” and “JAG,” where his “NCIS” character was originally introduced.
In fact, Mark has showbiz in his genes. The son of football star Tom Harmon and actress Elyse Knox, Mark also has two sisters, Kristin Nelson (née Harmon) and Kelly Harmon. Both of his sisters also made their careers in the entertainment industry — Kelly is a model and actress, while Kristin was an actress and painter.
What’s more, Mark’s wife of 34 years, Pam Dawber is also an actress. Her most remembered role was as Mindy, starring opposite Robin Williams in the acclaimed series “Mork & Mindy.” Other notable roles of hers include the television show “My Sister Sam,” as well as various other film and TV roles. In fact, in 2021, Dawber finally made an appearance on “NCIS” alongside her husband, where she played an investigative journalist.
Off-screen, the couple got married on March 21, 1987, which means they’re approaching their 35th wedding anniversary. Together, they share two sons, Sean Thomas Harmon and Ty Christian Harmon. Acting must really run in their family’s genes since Sean is also in the family business. Both of their sons are now all grown up and just as handsome as their father. Let’s take a look at their lives.
Soon after “Mork & Mindy” ended its run in 1982 is when Dawber first met Mark, after they were introduced by a mutual friend. Something clearly sparked between them and just a few years later they were married in 1987, which also happened to coincide with when Mark was named People’s Sexiest Man Alive. They had an intimate ceremony at a chapel at Harvard-Westlake School in Studio City, Los Angeles.
One interesting fact about their wedding is Mark’s wedding ring. Just a few years ago, Mark opened up to People about the distinctive ring, which he said he believed was his grandfather’s “because it was in a box of things that my dad left.” He added:
“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.”
Now that’s a husband anyone would want to marry! In the same interview, Mark revealed why he thought their union has worked and it has to do with maturity. He said:
“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.”
However, he did reveal that the two are quite different from each other, perhaps proving that opposites really do attract, at least in their case. They have different tastes and that’s even extended to their acting roles. One notable role which Mark wanted to do, Dawber told him not to. He added:
“We don’t generally like the same thing, and that’s been healthy for us, actually.”
Their eldest son Sean was born in April 1988, while their youngest son Ty is four years younger, having been born in June 1992. Unlike other Hollywood families, Dawber and Mark have chosen not to bring their sons into the spotlight, as they rarely attend premieres with them. They also don’t often talk about their kids in interviews.
And it was actually family that played a part in Dawber’s career slowly winding down. A successful actress throughout the ’80s and ’90s, her last long-running role was in 1998 on the television series “101 Dalmations: The Series.” Finally, in 2016, she opened up to Entertainment Tonight about why she chose family over fame. She said:
“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.’”
“I wanted to drive my kids to school … to be there for their birthdays and bring cupcakes and donuts and do the school festivals and all that, and I did.”
She also revealed that she “got to teach in their art class” and “it was a different life” but she was “very happy to do it.” She added that her sons hadn’t seen her acting work and said, “I’m just their mom … their father is already iconic enough for two boys.”
However, now that Sean, 33, and Ty, 29, are all grown up, the family’s dynamic has changed somewhat and they’ve slowly opened up their lives a little more. As Sean is an actor, audiences may already be familiar with him since he’s actually starred as the younger version of his father in “NCIS,” as well as a small role in “CSI: NY”. Talk about a family resemblance! Mark actually spoke about how proud he was of his son in a 2020 interview with Entertainment Tonight. He said:
“I always think back to the first time they talked about doing a young ‘Gibbs’ thing here, and Sean was just out of school at that point. A director named Tony Wharmby said, ‘Can he come in and read?’”
“On his own he did and I’m proud of him taking his work seriously and how he approaches being an actor.”
Sean has also had roles in a few other movies and short films, but just like his parents, he prefers to keep his personal life private. However, he did let fans in on some very exciting news when he shared on his Instagram that he and his girlfriend were engaged!
Ty, however, is the most private of the family. That’s even echoed in his career choice — rather than act and be in front of the camera, he’s chosen to work as a screenwriter behind the scenes. He’s most known for writing the movie “Catholic Schoolgirl Chainsaw Showdown,” which Sean actually directed.
But whether they’re in the spotlight or not, Mark couldn’t be prouder of his sons. He said in the same interview with ET:
“I’m proud of both our boys, and they work hard at what they do and I’m proud that they get up in the morning and try to do that every day.”
Did you know the reason Pam Dawber gave up her career in Hollywood? What about her and Mark Harmon’s sons, did you know they were also in the family business? Let us know, then pass this on to anyone who might be interested to read about it!