In the summer of 2021, Ken Levine answered the question, “What are familiar, long-running shows that you’ve never seen…?” Ken replied: “Never seen an episode of NCIS. (How can there be so many murders in the Navy?)”
For over a decade, this was true of me as well. The 2003 spinoff of JAG, another Navy show just didn’t seem to be my cuppa. But then my daughter started watching it a few years ago. Like a good parent, I had to check it out.
The star was/is Mark Harmon as Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs, head of his NCIS team. I have known who he was since he played college football. His father Tom was a college player, then a long-time sportscaster. When Tom was announcing the UCLA games, he referred to his son as “Quarterback”, as he did not want to call Mark by name. The nickname stuck.
From the IMDB, his first credit was on a show called Ozzie’s Girls.”Back in 1963, [Mark’s sister] Kristin, who was then 18, married pop star Ricky Nelson. And Nelson was the son of Ozzie and Harriet Nelson, two iconic stars from the early days of television. The two starred in The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet,” with their real-life sons Dave and pop star Ricky.
Mark Harmon appeared in a number of TV shows and ads for products such as Coors beer. He caught my attention as Dr. Robert Caldwell in the medical show St. Elsewhere in the early 1980s.
In 1986, he was chosen as People Magazine’s second annual “Sexiest Man Alive.” That same year, he was astonishingly good playing the attractive serial killer Ted Bundy in the miniseries The Deliberate Stranger.
I may have seen him in other programs, but I specifically remember his excellent portrayal as Secret Service Agent Simon Donovan in four episodes of The West Wing in 2002.
In the past season of NCIS, the 18th, Gibbs was in a diminished role on the show. Meanwhile, the program brought in the character Marcie Warren, an investigative journalist, for five episodes. She was played by Pam Dawber, Harmon’s wife since 1987. Harmon was convinced to stay with NCIS for a “handful” of episodes in season 19.
You may recall that in 1996, he “risked his life to save two teenage boys who were involved in a car accident outside of his home. Harmon used a sledgehammer from his garage to break the window out of their car, then pulled them free so they wouldn’t be burned to death, while his wife, Pam Dawber, called 911. He made every effort to downplay his role in saving their lives.
“‘None of that happens without Pam walking up the street and investigating it further. I don’t see it as any thought process. Either you do or you don’t. If the car blows up and kills me and the kids in the car, then you’d be doing this interview with my wife about how stupid it was.'”