Mark Harmon Left ‘NCIS’ after Nearly 2 Decades — His Wife of 35 Years Gave up Her Career for Their Children

Mark Harmon and his wife understand what it means to make sacrifices, which has helped keep their long-term marriage. The “NCIS” beloved actor left the show after nearly twenty years for his wife, who took to the back burner of fame for their family.


Since the early 2000s, CBS’s “NCIS” has treated fans to a thrilling and suspense-filled experience encapsulated in the crime/action series. They have also introduced the likes of Mark Harmon, an all-time favorite actor on the show.

Harmon, who played Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs since 2003, decided to exit the show in the early scenes of the 19th season. Following his departure, the actor remained silent, but recently, Harmon opened up to ET in an exclusive interview.

The on-screen legend confessed that he had always been intrigued by his character but also agreed that every good thing must come to an end—and plot-wise, it was time for Gibbs to retire.

However, he convinced fans that Gibbs is not saddled with a sad life because of retirement. Instead, the agent is still enjoying his life while “living in Alaska.”

Although Harmon’s exit was a shock to fans in October 2021, during his final days on the show, his character made it clear that he would be stepping aside from his special agent duty.

Gibbs did not specify how long he would be away, but he entrusted his responsibility to his protege and friend, McGee. The agent talked about holding onto the peace he recently found, adding that it eluded him when he lost his family.

Steven D. Binder, the executive producer on “NCIS” who, over the years, has bonded with Harmon, made fans hopeful of seeing Gibbs again. According to Binder:

“Mark continues to be an integral part of the fabric of the show… So regarding the future of Gibbs, as longtime fans of the show may have noticed over the years, never count Leroy Jethro Gibbs out.”


Harmon and his wife, Paw Dawber, share one of the most beautiful love stories in the history of Hollywood. But how did this happen despite the pair being two famous stars on screen?

Dawber was introduced to the world after working on “Mork & Mindy” with Robin Williams, and at the time she met Harmon via a mutual friend, she was a star in “My Sister Sam.”


On the other hand, Harmon was a hot cake, career-wise and in terms of his physical appearance. In 1986, he was dubbed the sexiest man alive by People Magazine and had bagged roles in “St. Elsewhere” and “Moonlighting.”

The couple carried on with a secret romance, away from the eagle-eyed public to protect it. The press barely knew when they got engaged, and according to Dawber, they were not trying to be secretive. However, she added:

“But if you don’t want it exploited by the press, you have to.”

In 1987, Harmon and Dawber officially became a couple. Their wedding was a small, intimate ceremony with only a few friends and family in attendance. Somehow, their formula for keeping things low-key has worked brilliantly.

The couple has remained married for thirty-five years, without controversies or divorce rumors, and they are parents to two adult kids. Undoubtedly, they got the happy-ever-after they wished for, but shockingly, this came at a price they were willing to pay.

Dawber, a one-time prominent actress, decided to lay down her fame and career to build the family they wanted. So while Harmon’s career grew more successful and made all the money, the “Mork & Mindy” star tended to their home front and kids.


The former actress believed being a busy bee like her husband would have threatened their marriage. She was aware of her booming career, which included voice-over for cartoons, musical theater, Broadway, and a number one tv show, but then, she knew it was time to step aside. In her words:

“I had children, and it’s like ‘I’m not going to chase this fame thing.” She added, “I don’t think two people can work all the time in show business and stay married.”

The last time she got involved with any TV production was in 1998 when she voiced Perdy on the “101 Dalmatians: The Series” show.

Apart from having a settled marriage, Dawber wanted to be involved with her kids. She loved the idea of bonding with her sons and loved to drive them to school, attend school activities and be around to make special events like birthdays.

The “Mork & Mindy” star was also ready to ensure that her family never appeared in the tabloids for anything controversial. The only way for this to happen was to rely on the first rule in her romance. So, confidently and reassuringly, she quipped:

“Notice you don’t see us in the magazines. When you’re married, that’s real life. And to go and plaster your kids… I’m sorry. I’m not for that.”

Having established the values she wanted for her family, Dawber agreed to return to TV for a few appearances. In 2014, she reunited with her former co-star, Williams, on “The Crazy Ones.”

She later made a guest appearance on “The Odd Couple” in an episode dedicated to Garry Marshall, who was responsible for her feature on “Mork & Mindy.”


Harmon and his wife started a family a year after their marriage. The couple’s first child is Sean, born in 1988. Four years later, he was joined by his brother, Ty.

Since their parenting journey began, the couple has been hands-on and in sync with how they raise their kids. While Dawber sacrificed her career, Harmon remained dedicated to fatherhood, juggling career, and parenting.

The actor is confident they passed down their low-profile lifestyle to the boys. “We stay home—a lot. I’m not a Twitter guy or a Facebook guy. Our sons aren’t into that either. Pam and I have made a living in this business, and still, there’s a part that’s just not natural.” he once shared.

Apart from inheriting the family’s watchword, their kids inherited their careers. The eldest, Sean, has worked as a stuntman in many films; he is also an actor and director.

His acting/directing credits include “Major Crimes,” “NCIS,” alongside his dad, “NCIS: Los Angeles,” “CSI: NY,” “Thicker,” and “Catholic Schoolgirl Chainsaw Showdown.”

Sean’s younger brother also has a career in Hollywood, but he prefers to stay away from the camera. Ty works as a screenwriter. In 2012, he teamed up with Sean on the “Catholic Schoolgirl Chainsaw Showdown.”

Certainly, Harmon’s offspring are making him proud, and with his time away from the camera, he has settled just fine into a fulfilling family life.

Following his exit from “NCIS,” DailyMail spotted the 70-year-old getting busy around his LA residence; he appeared to be in great shape as he moved briskly in jeans and an army green jacket.


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