Why ‘NCIS’ Star Mark Harmon Almost Never Had a Chance With His Wife

The marriage between Mark Harmon and Pam Dawber is one for the record books that we can only say occurs within a niche group of Hollywood legends.

When Harmon and Dawber married in 1987, the former was riding a high in popularity both in TV and movies. Dawber was still starring on a sitcom called My Sister Sam after fame co-starring with Robin Williams on Mork & Mindy.

While both had high career aspirations then, Dawber reportedly didn’t want to date an actor again. Their marriage almost didn’t happen as a result.

How it worked out falls mostly on Harmon honing his philosophy on what kind of person he wanted to be.

Mark Harmon in NCIS
Mark Harmon in NCIS | Bill Inoshita/CBS via Getty Images

Why was Pam Dawber done dating actors?

There’s legitimate reasoning when an actor/actress doesn’t want to date someone like them. One of the biggest problems involved is the competition and sometimes the spouse’s career going better than the other. When awards come into the equation, we’ve seen marriages break up as a result.

More than this is the problem of being apart for long periods of time, something Mark Harmon has noted he never wanted to do when becoming an actor.

To find more clues to Dawber’s frame of mind, it’s worth looking at some of her past interviews. She once noted (in an interview with her Mork & Mindy co-star, Jay Thomas) that dating actors in the 1980s simply wasn’t in the cards for her after various bad experiences.

A friend of hers thought Mark Harmon would be the perfect date, outside of being one of the most in-demand actors at the time.

Dawber took a break from acting to keep their marriage strong

Harmon and Dawber didn’t wait around to have kids once they were hitched 32 years ago. After having a couple of sons, Dawber decided to become a stay-at-home mom to give her marriage with Harmon a better chance of surviving a long time.

No doubt what made Dawber give Harmon a chance was his initial philosophy of wanting to keep a home base while acting. He certainly had numerous opportunities to become an international superstar in movies. Even if he did find some success in films, he deliberately let it slide later in favor of working on TV.

Being perennially located in Los Angeles allowed him to feel like he was doing a regular 9-to-5 job where he could go home and be with his family after the work was done.

This is the central reason Harmon and Dawber have stayed together for over three decades. However, it was likely more to it than being homebodies.

Keeping their private life private

In interviews together, Harmon and Dawber say keeping their private life away from social media and the cameras is another secret to them being together so long.

The good news is they don’t really have any family drama anyway, making them less apt to be chased around by the paparazzi. Latter can also be a driving factor in breaking up Hollywood couples due to the stress of always having to outwit the media.

Dawber and Harmon ultimately created the ultimate showbiz family who lives like any other non-famous, normal family. We all hope their example can end up being an inspiration to others in Hollywood who want to find the same road to sanity.

Harmon is one of the rare ones, though, making it clear few are out there willing to put family first above career.

Since the acting business is much more cutthroat nowadays, we may never see another couple like Harmon/Dawber often, despite TV being the in medium all over again.