Mark Harmon’s ‘NCIS’ Sign Language Skills Was Acquired From a Previous Role

Mark Harmon may be most known because of his current fame on the long-running hit CBS series, NCIS. Other fans of his older performances, remember him being a younger heartthrob of his time.

Long before his current “naval silver fox” role, he was a hit on several other television and movie projects. He’s versed in a variety of areas, beyond acting, and has a hefty roster of unrelated experiences to add to his resume. In fact, one of his former roles had him mastering sign language, a skill he possesses still today.

An impressive resume of being a favorite actor for many

Mark Harmon NCIS
Mark Harmon ‘NCIS’ | Erik Voake/CBS via Getty Images

RELATED: How ‘NCIS’ Star Mark Harmon Realized His Dad Was Famous

Some actors get famous because of one or two blockbuster projects. But for Harmon, he has a history of well-known and popular roles beyond the occasional television series. He enjoyed a long-term role on the show St. Elsewhere as well as his doctor’s portrayal on the well-received, Chicago Hope.

In 1985, he was crowned People magazine’s most coveted, “Sexiest Man Alive.” He’s also acted in several television movies and made guest appearances on other highly rated shows, including The West Wing.

While you think you know everything about Harmon’s on-screen success, there probably are a few details you didn’t know about Harmon beyond his full-time acting success with shows like NCIS. For example, he was the starting quarterback in 1972 and 1973 for UCLA. 

He’s been married to his wife Pam Dawber, of Mork & Mindy fame, since 1987. Before he became famous in television or acting at all, Harmon was working as a carpenter.

And in a true-to-life hero moment, Mark Harmon once rescued a teenager from a wrecked and burning car. He also, at one time, was a partial owner of a minor league baseball team in San Bernardino.

Back in the 80s, Mark Harmon actually starred in Coors beer commercials and was almost the face of Miami Vice, instead of Don Johnson.

‘NCIS’ characters Jethro Gibbs and Abby Sciuto sign with each other

View this post on Instagram

Abby the "riveter"

A post shared by ncis_cbs (@ncis_cbs) on

It’s not uncommon for acting professionals to learn new skills to bring real-life talent to a particular role. There are episodes of NCIS in which Harmon, who plays Jethro Gibbs, uses sign language with his on-screen colleague, Pauley Perrette, who plays Abby Sciuto.

Perrette learned sign language long before the television show due to her mother being deaf. But Harmon also had already learned sign language, prior to these NCIS episodes. It was a discipline he mastered for a previous role, several years earlier.

Mark Harmon learned to sign in 1991

Harmon starred in a police drama called Reasonable Doubts back in 1991. Oscar-winner, and deaf actress, Marlee Matlin, was his leading counterpart and played an assistant district attorney on the show. To play his role and communicate both on-screen and off with Matlin, Harmon learned sign language.

The show’s synopsis focused on the working relationship between Matlin, who played the kind and sensitive prosecutor, Tess Kaufman, and Harmon, who played a hardened detective, Dicky Cobb. The show was short-lived and canceled after two seasons. But the skills stayed with Harmon and come in handy for his current performances.

Harmon fans may have uncovered a few unknown facts about their favorite television star. But there are probably some long-term, Mark Harmon enthusiasts out there, who may have already been privy to these tidbits about the actor.

Regardless of how you personally feel about Harmon, his current show, NCIS, or his acting performances of the past, he clearly isn’t afraid to learn something new. And some say it may even be admirable, that all these years later, he can still incorporate a little sign language into a role.

Don’t Miss: Mark Harmon’s Football Life Before He Became Famous Might Surprise You