Pam Dawber has been married to husband Mark Harmon since 1987. Both are known for their television careers, as Dawber starred in the classic sitcom Mork & Mindy, and Harmon currently stars in the procedural drama NCIS.
The couple, both 67, are known for having one of the longest marriages in Hollywood, which they frequently discuss in interviews. “We were both in our thirties when we got married, so hopefully the stupid stuff we did earlier,” Harmon told People Magazine. “That’s probably the closest I have to what the key is. I’m proud to be married, and I’m proud of who I’m married to. I’m just so proud of her.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. She Met Harmon Through Mutual Friends & They Married In a Small Ceremony
Dawber and Harmon met through mutual friends, and married on March 21, 1987. The wedding was held as a private ceremony, with only close friends and family being invited.“We’re not trying to keep something secret, but if you don’t want it totally exploited by the press, you have to,” Dawber said at the time. “You mean there’s a story that we broke up? You’re kidding!”
In an interview with People, Harmon recalls that they often give each other advice about film and television roles. He says that Dawber didn’t want him to star in Summer School, which is now considered a cult classic. “I wanted to do it just because I was excited to work with [director] Carl Reiner,” he said. “That was a game changer for me, like, ‘He thinks I can do this?!’ and that meant a lot. But Pam said, ‘Don’t do that. Don’t do this movie.’ We don’t generally like the same thing.”
The actor conceded that having different tastes is healthy in a relationship. Dawber and Harmon have only made one film together, which is the 1999 drama I’ll Remember April.
2. She Rose to Fame with the TV Shows ‘Mork & Mindy’ & ‘My Sister Sam’
Dawber is best known for her work in television. Her first leading role was as Mindy McConnell in the CBS sitcom Mork & Mindy, which ran from 1978 to 1982. She won a People’s Choice Award for Favorite Female Performer in 1979, and was hailed as a breakout star alongside Robin Williams.
Dawber went on to play the title role in My Sister Sam, which ran from 1986 to 1988. Her co-star Rebecca Schaffer was shot and killed by an obsessive fan after the series was cancelled, which reportedly devastated the rest of the cast. In addition to her sitcom roles, Dawber guest-starred on shows like The Twilight Zone, and acted in films like 1978’s A Wedding and 1992’s Stay Tuned.
Dawber reunited with Williams for an episode of the sitcom The Crazy Ones. She says that she was glad she got a chance to play opposite Williams before his untimely death. “I hadn’t seen Robin for 20 years,” she said. “I did that episode because I wanted to be with Robin. I wanted to see Robin. That was a gift. That was such a gift.”
3. She Briefly Retired from Acting to Focus on Raising Her Kids
Dawber retired from acting in the 1990s to focus on her family. “I don’t think two people can work all the time in show business and stay married,” she told Entertainment Weekly. “I was in a number one show. I had my own deal. I got to do Broadway. I got to do musical theater. I got to do cartoon voices. 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.’”
The actress went on to say that she doesn’t regret her decision, and that it was ultimately the right thing to do for her children. “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 explained. “I got to teach in their art class and so it was a different life then and I was very happy to do it.”
4. Her Sons Sean & Ty Christian Harmon Are Also In the Movie Business
Dawber has two sons with Harmon: Sean, 30, and Ty Christian, 26. Both have followed in the footsteps of their parents and currently work in Hollywood. Sean appeared on several episodes of NCIS as a child, where he played the younger version of his father’s character Jethro Gibbs.
According to the Sharon McGregor blog, however, the experience was not an altogether enjoyable one. Harmon said it was “different” and Dawber added, “God knows I haven’t let him walk down that road again. Not that we had any fights, but we sure had discussions afterwards.”
Sean has since become a filmmaker. He made his directorial debut in 2012, and has gone on to release horror films like Hold On, Ten Thousand Miles, and The Ultimate Evil. He has also directed episodes of the procedural series CSI: NY. Ty Christian is a screenwriter who penned the film Catholic Schoolgirl Massacre, which was was also directed by his brother.
When asked about her influence on her sons, Dawber said that she let them chose their own career paths. “I’m just their mom,” she revealed. “They don’t care about what I did. They care about what they are doing. They want their parents to care about what they are doing. Their father is already iconic enough for two boys. I am just the mom.”
5. She & Harmon Try to Keep Their Private Lives Out of the Spotlight
Both Dawber and Harmon have made a point of keeping their private lives out of the spotlight. “Notice you don’t see us in the magazines,” Dawber told ET Online. “When you’re married, that’s real life. And to go and plaster your kids… I’m sorry. I’m not for that.” In a 2017 interview with TV Insider, Harmon said that privacy comes naturally to him and family.
“It’s not even a choice. It’s who we are. We stay home. A lot,” he explained. “I’m not a Twitter guy or a Facebook guy. Our sons aren’t into that either. Pam and I have both made a living in this business, and still, there’s a part of that that’s just not natural.”