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Mark Harmon’s Enduring Love Story: How a Cold Call Led to a Lifelong Romance with Pam Dawber

Mark Harmon and Pam Dawber
Mark Harmon and Pam Dawber (Credits: PEOPLE)

When it came to asking Pam Dawber out on their first date, Mark Harmon didn’t waste any time. The former NCIS star recently shared the story of their romantic beginnings, which occurred 37 years ago. A mutual friend initially had the idea of setting him up with the Mork & Mindy star through a group date as he discussed his new historical non-fiction book, “Ghosts of Honolulu: A Japanese Spy, a Japanese American Spy Hunter, and the Untold Story of Pearl Harbor,” scheduled for release on November 14.

However, Harmon, who is now 72 years old, preferred a more direct approach. He recounted, “I said, ‘Can I just call? Can I get a number and just cold call?’ And so I did. I got the number, and I called, and I got an answering machine. And I started to leave a message that said, ‘We don’t have to (all) go out. We could get a cup of coffee or something.’ And then she was monitoring, and she picked up. We went out that night and have been together ever since.”

Mark Harmon and Pam Dawber

Mark Harmon and Pam Dawber (Credits: PEOPLE)

Remarkably, the two tied the knot exactly one year later. This pivotal first date took place shortly after Harmon was crowned PEOPLE’s Sexiest Man Alive in 1986. In that cover story interview, Harmon expressed his desire for a lasting marriage, emphasizing his naturally monogamous nature and aversion to casual dating.

The couple now has two adult sons, Sean and Ty. Sean, an actor, has even made appearances on NCIS. Harmon proudly reflects on his sons, acknowledging their strong work ethic and individuality. When asked about the secret to his and Dawber’s enduring relationship, Harmon humbly replied, “I have no secret. We laugh. You’ve got to laugh, and you’ve got to talk and communicate. That’s the fun part. Do we sit and talk about it? No. Maybe you just get fortunate and find the right one. We share many things, and yet we’re really different.”

Family played a significant role in Harmon’s decision to take on the role of Special Agent Gibbs on NCIS, which ultimately spanned a remarkable 19 seasons. He cherished the ability to make pancakes on Saturday mornings, even if it meant sacrificing sleep on occasion. This role allowed him to share the screen with Dawber during her story arc as journalist Marcie Warren on the show, further strengthening their bond.

Throughout his life, gratitude has remained a constant for Harmon. He expressed his fortune, saying, “I’m so fortunate. I don’t ever wake up not thinking that.”

Mark Harmon’s upcoming book, “Ghosts of Honolulu: A Japanese Spy, a Japanese American Spy Hunter, and the Untold Story of Pearl Harbor,” co-authored with retired real-life NCIS special agent Leon Carroll Jr., will be available on November 14 at bookstores everywhere.

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