What Is Mark Harmon’s Heritage? ‘NCIS’ Star’s Ethnicity Is a Blend

NCIS may not have had much of a following when it first aired, but that quickly changed. A large part of that had to do with the man who played the lead role of Leroy Jethro Gibbs.

The character, played to perfection by Mark Harmon, is a flawless blend of a father figure to his team members and a mysterious, but very tough guy to those who break the law. Harmon’s portrayal of Agent Gibbs has spawned a cult following. 

Who is Harmon, however? Does he actually have anything in common with the now-legendary NCIS character he plays? And what about his ancestry? Booms Beat has all the fascinating details.

Mark Harmon, man of mystery

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Harmon tends to keep his life offset private, but there are several clues about his personality revealed through Leroy Jethro Gibbs. For example, Gibbs’ obsession with building boats comes straight from Harmon. When he was younger, he worked as a carpenter and still loves to build. 

Something else that Harmon has in common with Gibbs is not running away when there are lives to be saved. In 1996, two young teens were trapped in a burning car outside of Harmon’s home. 

Rather than sitting back, and staring in horror as the two young men perished, Harmon leaped into action. He grabbed a sledgehammer from his home and smashed the windows in. The teens were able to escape unscathed thanks to his quick actions.

Harmon also had his friend’s back when he was working a job delivering flowers. Harmon was very pleased with his friend when he received an order of roses for the young man’s girlfriend. It was a very romantic, classy move. 

Then Harmon read the label and realized that these roses weren’t from his friend at all. They were from a rival. Rather than delivering the roses with the original sender’s label, Harmon tore it off and wrote a new label from his friend.

Mark Harmon has done it all

Harmon is perhaps best known as playing Agent Gibbs on NCIS, but he’s actually had several other jobs over the years. He’s been a carpenter, a football player, floral delivery boy, lifeguard, and of course, an actor.

After graduating from UCLA with a communications degree, Harmon was offered a position on the New England Patriots. It was a huge honor and would have allowed him to follow in his father’s footsteps, but Harmon turned the offer down. His reasoning? College is for learning, not becoming a professional jock.

Harmon went on to follow in his mother’s footsteps. He was the face of Coors for many years, while working on movies such as The Presidio and Sweet Bird of Youth. Harmon even acted with his wife Pam Dawber on the film I’ll Remember April.

It’s been heavily speculated that Harmon was leaving NCIS for bigger and better things, but Harmon has no intention of leaving just yet. His two major reasons are that the writers are still excited about what they can bring to the show, and it works well for his personal life. He gets to come home at night to his family while still doing what he loves, which is what matters to Harmon most.

What is Mark Harmon’s heritage?

NCIS Mark Harmon
‘NCIS’ star Mark Harmon | Cliff Lipson/CBS via Getty Images

Nearly everyone knows Harmon’s parents. Tom Harmon played football, was a broadcaster, military pilot, and actor. His mom was also an actress, fashion designer, and model. They were apparently very low key parents and didn’t make a big deal of the fact that they were famous. In fact, Harmon had no idea his dad was famous until their car was surrounded by fans when he was 8 years old.

What most people may not know is Harmon’s heritage is very diverse. As it turns out, Harmon’s maternal grandparents were immigrants from Vienna, Austria. His father is a mixture of French, German, and Irish. 

His parents seemed to be the first generation in his family to become famous, as his grandparents on both sides were never in the spotlight. Either way, it’s clear that the Harmon family line is very talented, as evidenced by his son Sean Harmon who plays a young Gibbs. The Harmon family will doubtless be remembered for many generations to come.