The Game Show Mark Harmon Appeared on Way Before Fame and ‘NCIS’

Today, Mark Harmon is best known for starring as Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs in the hit crime procedural, NCIS. He has portrayed the show’s leading man for 17 seasons and counting. And, he continues to bring fans back to the small screen for the latest crime — and the latest in the personal lives of the show’s leads. While some actors have come and gone — Michael Weatherly, Pauley Perrette, and Cote de Pablo — Mark Harmon has been with the show since its days as a mere Jag spinoff. Harmon continues to give his life to the series; he even serves as an executive producer on the show now. 

Mark Harmon NCIS
Mark Harmon of ‘NCIS’ | Hannes Magerstaedt/Getty Images

Before NCIS, Mark Harmon made a bit of a name for himself on the silver screen. He starred across from Sean Connery and Meg Ryan in The Presidio, and he even appeared across from the great Liz Taylor in the TV movie Sweet Bird of Youth. And, let us not forget that he played Ted Bundy ages before Zac Efron climbed into the serial killer’s skin. In short, Harmon has grown quite famous over the last several years, and he has been a household name for quite some time. However, that doesn’t mean he didn’t participate in his fair share of less glamorous gigs on his way to the top. 

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During an interview with David Letterman a while back, the host brought up Harmon’s appearance on a popular reality game show — one he was paid to appear on and even participated in more than once!

Mark Harmon appeared on ‘The Dating Game’ back in the day 

David Letterman brought up The Dating Game while Mark Harmon was on the show, commenting that both Harmon and Tom Selleck appeared on the reality game show back when it was on the air. The show had a long run — from 1965 to 1999 — and Harmon appeared on the series before fame found him. The synopsis was simple: a contestant chooses a date based on eligible bachelors’ or bachelorettes’ answers to several questions. 

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Mark Harmon went on The Dating Game more than once, and he explained, “the first time it was a paying job…you did an interview and you went through a process, and if you were lucky, you got chosen to be on…” 

Harmon went on to explain, “I was in junior college [the first time]. And, the second time, I was in UCLA.” Harmon noted that “the first time I was one of the pickees…the second time, I was a picker.” 

‘NCIS’ star Mark Harmon never went on a date because of the show, and he tried to cheat!

While Harmon appeared on the show twice, in different roles both times, he never actually went on a date with anyone. While the show may have led you to believe otherwise, the romantic night out never came to fruition! 

Mark Harmon even explained that he “tried to cheat a little bit” when on the show, looking in the audience to see his friends, who were signaling to him what to do — who to choose. Yet, the showrunners were ready for such folks and turned the lights up on the stage so bright that Harmon couldn’t see. In the end, the cheater didn’t win this time around.