MARK HARMON

Closer re­veals the truth be­hind the NCIS star’s 31-year mar­riage to Mork & Mindy’s Pam Daw­ber.

Closer Weekly - - Contents - By BRUCE FRETTS

Pam Daw­ber had a pre­mo­ni­tion. “I feel like this is a good time to leave town,” she told hus­band Mark Harmon be­fore whisk­ing him and their two sons off to visit rel­a­tives. It was a wise move: An earth­quake struck soon af­ter­ward, caus­ing dam­age to their home near Santa Mon­ica, in­clud­ing a col­lapsed chim­ney and more, which killed the fam­ily’s pet gold­fish. “I’m so grate­ful we weren’t there,” Pam later said. “My kids would’ve been trau­ma­tized.”

It doesn’t take the in­ves­tiga­tive skills of NCIS ’ Leroy Jethro Gibbs to de­duce why Mark’s so glad he married Pam. “He thinks she’s the smartest, best per­son he knows — he takes her se­ri­ously,” an in­sider tells Closer, who adds of the 1994 quake, “She felt it, and he lis­tened. He’s joked and called her a witch.”

If that’s true, Pam’s had Mark un­der her spell for more than 30 years. The ac­tors, now both 67, met in the mid-’80s, when Mark was fin­ish­ing up his run as a wom­an­iz­ing doc­tor on the drama St. Else­where, and Pam was play­ing a pho­tog­ra­pher on the sit­com My Sis­ter Sam. They were both in their 30s and had each en­dured a few failed ro­mances — him with ac­tresses Cristina Raines (his co-star in the prime­time soap Flamingo Road) and Heather Lock­lear, and her with skier Weems West­feldt and model Phil Coc­ci­o­letti.

They were in­tro­duced by a friend at a party, and their chem­istry was in­stant. Mark fit Pam’s de­scrip­tion of what she was seek­ing in a man: strong, in­tel­li­gent, in­de­pen­dent, sen­si­tive, warm and funny. “He’s fab­u­lous,” she con­cluded. For Mark, the feel­ing was mu­tual.

The cou­ple wed in a low-key cer­e­mony

at­tended by only a few close fam­ily mem­bers and friends in

1987. Pam didn’t want a me­dia cir­cus like her friend Ju­lianne Phillips had dur­ing her wed­ding to Bruce Spring­steen in 1985. “Ju­lianne was in tears al­most the en­tire time,” said Pam. “There were he­li­copters hov­er­ing over her par­ents’ house.”

Yet al­most im­me­di­ately, the cou­ple’s bond was tested when they landed in the mid­dle of a tabloid firestorm: Mark and Pam fought his sis­ter, Kristin, for cus­tody of her 12-yearold son, Sam. Mark’s older sib­ling had been married to hard-par­ty­ing rocker Ricky Nel­son and had got­ten mixed up with drugs, and Mark and Pam feared for the boy’s safety.

Mark con­vinced Kristin to en­ter re­hab. “No­body but my brother could have talked me into this be­cause I trusted him,” she said. An agree­ment was worked out in which Kristin re­tained cus­tody of Sam, but Mark got vis­i­ta­tion rights, and the case was set-

tled. Kristin died of a heart at­tack at 72 in April, and Mark and Pam have al­ways re­mained a ma­jor part of Sam’s life, sup­port­ing him fi­nan­cially and oth­er­wise.

“Their fa­ther is al­ready iconic enough for two boys. I am just their mom.” — Pam, talk­ing about sons Ty and Sean

A QUIET STRENGTH

Aside from this fam­ily drama, Mark and Pam’s mar­riage has been smooth sail­ing. They’re both in­tensely pri­vate peo­ple who en­joy a mel­low life to­gether. “It’s not even a choice — it’s who we are,” says Mark. “We stay home. A lot. I’m not a Twit­ter guy or a Face­book guy. Pam and I have both made a liv­ing in this busi­ness, and still there’s a part of it that’s just not nat­u­ral.”

The cou­ple share sim­i­lar val­ues and in­ter­ests: hik­ing, camp­ing, trav­el­ing, home ren­o­va­tion and an­i­mals (they’re dog lovers). “They’re both ap­pre­cia­tive to have found each other — they know how treach­er­ous Hol­ly­wood mar­riages can be,” says the in-

sider. “They have grat­i­tude, ap­pre­ci­a­tion for each other and steadi­ness.”

Mark and Pam have taken an equally down-to-earth ap­proach as the par­ents of Sean, 30, and Ty, 26. “They felt they had to be strict so Sean and Ty would not suc­cumb to what many celebri­ties’ kids do: drugs, al­co­hol and par­ty­ing,” says the in­sider. “And it worked — their kids are ter­rific.”

Sean was born shortly be­fore My Sis­ter Sam was can­celed, and Pam chose to put her ca­reer on the back burner to fo­cus on mother­hood. “I wanted to drive my kids to school. I wanted to be there for their birth­days and bring cup­cakes and donuts and do the school fes­ti­vals and all that, and I did,” she says. “I was very happy to do it.”

THEIR LIFE NOW

Pam has oc­ca­sion­ally re­turned to work, re­unit­ing with Mork & Mindy co-star Robin Wil­liams on his sit­com The Crazy Ones only a few months be­fore his sui­cide in 2014. Yet she re­mains es­sen­tially re­tired: “I did ev­ery­thing you can do in this busi­ness, and then I had chil­dren and it’s like, I’m not go­ing to chase this fame thing,” she says. As she sees it, “Two peo­ple can’t work all the time in show busi­ness and stay married.”

And Mark has been busy solv­ing naval crimes for the past 15-plus sea­sons on CBS’ top-rated hit NCIS. “Pam would love for Mark to slow down or re­tire so they could travel more and have more free­dom,” says the in­sider. “But only if he wants to do it.”

Mark says he’ll quit un­der one con­di­tion. “If I ever wit­ness the writ­ers walk­ing in with their heads down, feel­ing they’ve done it all, that would be the time to say, ‘I think I’m done here,’” he ex­plains. “But there is still a real feel­ing of cre­ativ­ity and a sense of rein­ven­tion on our set.”

The cou­ple feel no need to rein­vent their mar­riage — if it ain’t broke, why fix it? — but Mark and Pam did re­new their vows to cel­e­brate their 30th wed­ding an­niver­sary last year. “It was sim­ple and lovely,” the in­sider re­ports. “Noth­ing flashy — just like them.”

Theirs is the rare Hol­ly­wood mar­riage that has only grown stronger over time. “Mark truly adores her,” the in­sider says. And, as Pam puts it, “Mark’s one of those guys who makes you say, ‘They don’t make ’em like that any­more.’ ”

— Re­port­ing by Rick Egusquiza

“When you work out prob­lem ar­eas, your life falls into place,” says Pam, with Mark. “My life has re­ally falleninto place.”

“They’re best friends,” an in­sider says of Mark and Pam. “They un­der­stand each other’s need for pri­vacy and a low-key life.” Sean (with his mother, Pam) has played the younger ver­sion of his fa­ther’s char­ac­ter on NCIS. Mark be­came a fa­ther fig­ure to nephew Sam af­ter his dad, Ricky Nel­son, diedand mom Kristin (in­set) bat­tled drugs.

21 1. Mark (with David McCal­lum) has signed on to con­tinue play­ing Gibbs on NCIS through its cur­rent 16th sea­son. 2. “Our lives changed so fast,” Pam says of the overnight star­dom she and Robin Wil­liams ex­pe­ri­enced thanks to Mork & Mindy.3. “St. Else­where was cer­tainly a great show,” says Mark of the drama. 4. Re­becca Scha­ef­fer, Pam’s My Sis­ter Sam costar, was mur­dered at 21 by a stalker a year af­ter the show was can­celed.

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