While he plays a hero in the long running hit television series, NCIS, many do not know that actor Mark Harmon is a real life hero. It isn’t just because of the charities or causes he supports either. Many of us could be, and some are, heroes in at least some small way to the less fortunate through the causes we support. Mark Harmon, however, became a real life hero when he saved the life of a teenager trapped inside a burning car a few years ago. At the time he was playing a doctor on Chicago Hope who treated Oklahoma City bombing victims.
“You make the effort,” Harmon said in an interview in fortunecity.com. You get involved.”
He didn’t brag about his achievement in the interview. He did say he often thought afterward about how he almost left his two children, who were at that time nine and five, fatherless. He also thought about how he almost left his wife, actress Pam Dawber, a widow. He said he realizes there is a fine line between being a hero and being “stupid.”
Harmon became a hero when a 16-year-old boy crashed a car into a wall near Harmon’s home. The car flipped, and its tires were engulfed in flames before Harmon’s wife told him to get a sledgehammer. Harmon said he feels as though God guided him on how to get the boy out of the car. The boy had scars but recovered, and his parents, who were separated, reconciled. A dozen other people were there but did nothing, but Harmon refused to judge them. Harmon said the experience changed everyone in his family.
Mark Harmon had a father who was a football hero, Tom Harmon, who won the Heisman Trophy when he played for Michigan. Before being an actor, Mark Harmon himself played quarterback at UCLA. He has spent much of his acting career playing heroic types, such as doctors and law enforcement personnel. Before playing in Chicago Hope and St. Elsewhere, Harmon had smaller roles and staring roles on Adam 12, Policewoman, the Hardy Boys/ Nancy Drew Mysteries, and other shows. He also played in television commercials. He usually played a good guy, but he once played mass murderer Ted Bundy in the 1986 television movie The Deliberate Stranger. He has also played in movies such as Beyond the Poseidon Adventure.
On NCIS, Harmon plays Leroy Jethro Gibbs the Special Agent in Charge of the Major Response Team, responsible for catching military criminals, sometimes murderers, often before they can kill again. The team investigates any crime under which a criminal could be punished under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The confinement would have to be for a year or more in a navy facility. Some of the crimes the team becomes involved with are quite dramatic: the death of a presidential aide; terrorist threats; a bombing aboard a ship; and other tense situations.
If those who support those less fortunate are heroes to those who receive help, Mark Harmon certainly fits the definition of hero in that regard as well. He has been involved in helping charities help a variety of those less fortunate. He had a baseball team that played in the Annual Oklahoma Sports Science and Orthopedics’ Mark Harmon Celebrity Baseball Game in 2008 to benefit children with physical and medical disabilities. He has also been involved with too many other charities to mention them all including Clothes Off Our Back, which hosts celebrity auctions and gives the money to children’s charities; Ronald McDonald House Charities, which provides a home to families of children receiving medical treatment, and the Children’s Center, which provides treatment to children in a cost effective manner.
All the while Mark Harmon has been busy helping others and being a star on NCIS, he is modest about his life and acting.
“I don’t think of myself as the No. 1 actor on the show; it’s an ensemble,” he said of NCIS in an interview on the website, markharmonfanwiki.wetpaint.com. He called himself, “just an actor for hire”. Many people Mark Harmon has devoted his time to helping, as well as a person he saved from a flaming car, might disagree.
Interview with Mark Harmon, by Jeffrey Zaslow, members.fortunecity.com
Mark Harmon Interview 15th February 2009, no author listed, markharmonfanwiki.wetpaint.com
Mark Harmon, no author listed, en.wikipedia.org
NCIS (TV Series), no author listed, en.wikipedia.org
Mark Harmon Charity Baseball Event, no author listed, ncisfanwiki.com
Mark Harmon’s Charity Work, Events and Causes, no author listed, looktothestars.org