Mark Harmon and Pam Dawber met in 1985. They got married two years later and have two sons together.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on March 19, 2021. It has since been updated.
There are many couples in show business whose marriages have lasted the test of time. They prioritized their relationship and family to make it work year after year, and Mark Harmon, 69, and Pam Dawber, 69, are one of those couples. He has played the character of Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs on CBS’s NCIS for 18 seasons now but he has played the role of Dawber's husband longer.
Even after all these years together, his family and wife are the most important parts of his life. Harmon and Dawber met in 1985 through a mutual friend. From the get-go, they kept the media out of their relationship, and even their wedding two years later was a small affair. They got married at an independent Episcopal boy’s high school in the Studio City area of the San Fernando Valley. He graduated from the school in 1969, according to AP.
After more than three decades together, he still has nothing but respect for the woman he loves. He revealed the secret to their marriage. "We were both in our thirties when we got married, so hopefully the stupid stuff we did earlier,” he told People. "That’s probably the closest I have to what the key is," he added. They were both 35 when they married.
He also added that they respect each other's differences. "We don’t generally like the same thing, and that’s been healthy for us, actually," he added. However, that doesn't mean he doesn't make sure to honor his marriage.
The 69-year-old wears a ring in the shape of an eagle head on his wedding finger. He explained the special significance of it. "We think it was my grandfather’s because it was in a box of things that my dad left. 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," he said. "I’m just so proud of her," he added.
Dawber was still a successful actress thanks to Mork & Mindy when they married but she gave it all up eventually. "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," Dawber told ETOnline. "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.'"
Her last steady acting gig was giving voice to the character of Perdy on the animated TV show 101 Dalmatians: The Series in 1998. "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," she added. "I got to teach in their art class and so it was a different life then and I was very happy to do it."
The couple made sure that the media was never a big presence in their life. "Notice you don't see us in the magazines," she added. "When you're married, that's real life. And to go and plaster your kids... I'm sorry. I'm not for that."
She also made the choice of stepping out of the spotlight for the sake of their marriage. "I don't think two people can work all the time in show business and stay married," Dawber added.
Harmon stays out of the public eye even though he grew up with famous parents. His mom, Elyse Knox, was a film actress, and his dad, Tom Harmon, was a Heisman Trophy winner and beloved sportscaster.
"My parents kept things real. I had no idea they were famous. In fact, it didn’t hit me until one day when I was riding in the car with my father in Ann Arbor, Michigan—I was maybe 8," he added.
Even now, his wife is amazed by how down-to-earth he is. "He's one of those guys who makes you say, 'They don't make them like that anymore,'" Dawber said, as per Biography.
Getty images | Left: Photo by Diane Freed; Right: Photo by Kevin Winter/ImageDirect