‘NCIS’ star Mark Harmon and wife Pam Dawber reveal the secret behind their 32-year marriage

Mark Harmon and Pam Dawber admitted that it’s peculiar for two actors to get married — and stay that way.

The stars have been together for 32 years and have been tirelessly devoted to their life at home away from cameras.

“Pam and I have both made a living in this business, and still, there’s a part of that that’s just not natural,” Harmon, 67, told Closer Weekly for their latest issue currently on newsstands.

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“I don’t think two people can work all the time in show business and stay married,” added Dawber, 67, to the magazine.

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The two actors have carved out their own successful careers in Hollywood. Harmon is the star of “NCIS” and Dawber is still recognized for her roles in hit shows like “Mork & Mindy” with Robin Williams and “My Sister Sam” opposite Rebecca Schaeffer.

According to the magazine, Harmon and Dawber were first introduced at a party by a mutual friend in 1986. They married just a year later and share two children together — sons Sean, 30, and Ty, 26. The family, fiercely protective of their privacy, are rarely snapped by paparazzi.

Dawber said that when it came to raising their children, she was willing to put her Hollywood career on hold.

“It was a different life then, and I was happy to do it,” she explained.

As for Harmon, he became very selective with his projects, ensuring he wasn’t too far away from his family.

Mark Harmon and wife Pam Dawber attend the Rolling Stones performance at Echoplex on April 27, 2013, in Los Angeles.

Mark Harmon and wife Pam Dawber attend the Rolling Stones performance at Echoplex on April 27, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Kevin Mazur/WireImage/Getty)

“No job is worth missing life’s most important moments,” he said.

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Back in May 2018, Harmon told Closer Weekly he and his family prefer to keep a low profile away from Hollywood’s glaring spotlight.

“It’s not even a choice,” he explained at the time. “It’s who we are. We stay at home. A lot. I’m not a Twitter guy or a Facebook guy. Our sons aren’t into that, either.”

Harmon has had plenty of experience navigating fame over the years. He is the son of sportscaster Tom Harmon and ‘40s screen star Elyse Knox.

“My parents kept things real — I had no idea they were famous,” he said. “In fact, it didn’t hit me until one day when I was riding in the car with my father in Ann Arbor, Mich. – I was maybe 8 and could barely see above the dashboard – and we stopped at a crosswalk.

Mark Harmon in "NCIS."

Mark Harmon in "NCIS." (CBS)

"Suddenly, we were surrounded by people who recognized my dad and were really thrilled to see him. I remember looking at this man I thought I knew so well and thinking, ‘Who are you?’”

Harmon himself didn’t immediately dive into a high-profile career.

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He became a football star at UCLA and later worked as a roofer, carpenter and shoe salesman before he was urged by his sister’s father-in-law Ozzie Nelson of “Ozzie & Harriet” fame to pursue acting.

“I’d never been on a set before,” said Harmon, who made his debut in 1973 on the family sitcom “Ozzie’s Girls.” “My character comes to the door in a gorilla outfit, and I got to say, ‘My name’s Harry King Kong. Which way to the Empire State Building?’”

But Harmon was also looking for something else, in addition to a new career: true love.

Pam Dawber shares a laugh with Robin Williams before the annual American Museum of the Moving Image Tribute dinner on Feb. 23, 1995, in New York. 

Pam Dawber shares a laugh with Robin Williams before the annual American Museum of the Moving Image Tribute dinner on Feb. 23, 1995, in New York.  (REUTERS/Jeff Christensen)

“When I marry, I want it to be everything this town says it can’t be,” he announced in 1986. “I’m not into catting around.”

Dawber also explained to the publication at the time that she had zero regrets in hitting pause on her career for her family’s sake.

“I had children and it was like, ‘I’m not going to chase this fame thing,’” she explained. “I wanted to drive my kids to school. I wanted to be there for their birthdays and bring cupcakes and doughnuts. And I was very happy to do it.”

But life for Harmon wasn’t always smooth sailing. His sister Kristin had gotten involved with drugs during her marriage to teen heartthrob Ricky Nelson, who later died in a 1985 plane crash.

As Kristin’s addiction worsened, Harmon attempted to gain custody of her 12-year-old son, Sam, in hopes his nephew could enjoy a more stable environment.

The magazine added Harmon ultimately dropped his bid for custody and Kristin entered rehab. He was instead granted visitation rights. Sam remained close to his mother until she died in April at age 72 from a heart attack.

"NCIS" star Mark Harmon told Closer Weekly that when it comes to being a star, family comes first.

"NCIS" star Mark Harmon told Closer Weekly that when it comes to being a star, family comes first. (Reuters)

Harmon has maintained a steady career as a sought-after actor, but being by his family’s side has always been his primary goal. He learned a major life lesson about that while filming 1991’s “Till There Was You.”

“I was in the jungles of New Guinea making a not very good movie when my firstborn took his first steps,” he recalled. “No job is worth missing life’s most important moments.”

Harmon may enjoy his private life when not filming “NCIS,” but he’s still grateful that audiences enjoy his latest role as an actor.

“It’s hard to walk through airports even in the most out-of-the-way places without being surrounded by people who love the show — and that’s nothing to complain about,” he said. “I’ve done TV shows where I walk through airports apologizing.”