‘NCIS’: How Did Mark Harmon Become Famous?

Mark Harmon is best known for playing Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs on the CBS series NCIS. Here’s a look at Mark Harmon’s career and how he became famous.   

Mark Harmon’s acting career

Mark Harmon on the set of NCIS|Sonja Flemming/CBS via Getty Images
Mark Harmon on the set of NCIS|Sonja Flemming/CBS via Getty Images

Mark Harmon made his acting debut in a 1973 episode of the television show Ozzie’s Girls titled “The Candidate.” At the time, Harmon’s sister Kristen was dating Ricky Nelson, son of television personalities Ozzie and Harriet Nelson. Consequently, Harmon was offered a guest role in Ozzie’s Girls. This experience led him to seriously consider acting as a career. After that, he appeared in a 1975 episode of the TV series Emergency!

Before Harmon’s acting career got off the ground, he held several odd jobs. During an interview with Rich Eisen, the actor spoke about his long journey:

I sold shoes, I was in law school for a little bit. I worked at Adidas for about eight months, and before that I was doing merchandising and radio. I was studying acting during the night time, but for a few years after college, other than being a carpenter, I was just trying to do whatever I could do to make a few bucks.

Mark Harmon’s television shows and movies

Harmon’s first significant role was the 1977 television movie Eleanor and Franklin: The White House Years. His portrayal of Robert Dunlap earned him an Emmy nomination. Harmon made his film debut in the 1978 movie Comes a Horseman. In 1979, the actor had a recurring role in the television series 240-Robert, in which he played the role of Deputy Dwayne ‘Thib’ Thibideaux.

Mark Harmon as Doctor Robert Caldwell on St. Elsewhere|Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo Bank
Mark Harmon as Doctor Robert Caldwell on St. Elsewhere|Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo Bank

Harmon gained popularity after starring in the medical drama St. Elsewhere. He played the character Dr. Robert Caldwell from 1983 to 1986. Harmon worked alongside stars such as Denzel Washington and Howie Mandel. Other television appearances include Charlie Grace (1995-1996), Chicago Hope (1996- 2000), and The West Wing (2002).

In 1987, Harmon played Freddy Shoop in the movie Summer School opposite actress Kirstie Alley. He then starred in the 1988 military movie The Presidio alongside Sean Connery. Other film appearances include Stealing Home (1988), Till There Was You (1991), and Wyatt Earp (1994).

How much Mark Harmon is paid per episode for NCIS

NCIS star Mark Harmon is paid quite well for his role as Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs. The actor makes $525,000 per episode for his starring role in NCIS. Although this is a lot of money, it’s nowhere near the salary of some of the other stars on CBS. The main stars of The Big Bang Theory cast each earned $900,000 per episode. 

Read more: ‘NCIS’: Is Mark Harmon Taking a Break from the Show?

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