Ups and Downs of Mark Harmon's More Than 30-Year Marriage
One of TV's hottest "it" couples in the '80s, Pam Dawber and Mark Harmon are a couple defying the odds. Their marriage is already over thirty years long and still going strong.
In 1986, Mark Harmon was named People Magazine's "Sexiest Man Alive" and starred in "St. Elsewhere" and "Moonlighting." Pam Dawber's career was also hitting highs with her starring in "My Sister Sam" and "Mork & Mindy." The pair were introduced by a mutual friend. They kept their relationship out of the media with Pam admitting that the only way to stay out of the tabloids was to keep it a secret. Till now, the pair remain very private about their life offscreen.
Pam's early career
Although Dawber might now be more commonly known as Harmon’s wife, Pam was already a successful actress before Mark came into her life. Even though she made the decision to step away from the spotlight, Pam played in one of the most popular shows on tv and has a bunch of other projects to her name as well.
Born in Detroit in 1951, Dawber relocated to New York when she was a teenager in order to pursue her modeling career. Afterward, she decided to switch to acting and landed the role that made her famous in her mid-20s: Mindy on the ‘Mork & Mindy’ sitcom. The series premiered in 1978, where Dawber played as Mork’s roommate. The show ran for four seasons until it’s cancellation in 1982.
Once the series came to an end, Pam was featured in a number of TV movies, including ‘Remembrance of Love’ and ‘Wild Horses.’ In 1986, she starred in ‘My Sister Sam’ as well, but it was canceled shortly after two seasons. It was during her time on the show that Dawber and Harmon started dating, after meeting each other through a mutual friend. Soon after, the couple tied the knot in 1987, and now have two sons - Sean, born in 1988, and Ty, born in 1992.
Dawber's acting hiatus
Once Dawber got married and started building a family with Harmon, the actress put her career on pause. For Pam, it made more sense for Mark to pursue his work, whilst she focused on other things. Although she did indeed walk away from the spotlight, Pam made sure to take a couple of side jobs here and there.
In the 90s, Dawber made occasional appearances on television, including voice work on ‘101 Dalmation: The Series’ and starred in movies like ‘A Child’s Cry for Help’ and ‘Don’t Look Behind You.’ Her appearances also included the 1992 film ‘Stay Tuned’, and she even starred alongside her husband in ‘I’ll Remember April.’ The actress has worked sporadically since 2000, including her return to television in the series ‘The Crazy Ones.’
The secret to a long-lasting marriage
The pair tied the knot in 1987 in a low-key ceremony with a small group of friends and family. They have been married for 32 years. Mark's wedding band is a unique ring in the shape of an eagle head.
“We were both in our thirties when we got married, so hopefully the stupid stuff we did earlier,” said Harmon to People in 2019 about having a lasting relationship. “That’s probably the closest I have to what the key is.”
Dawber continued to add,
“I wear it or a few others I have because when I’m not shooting, I like to make sure I have something on my ring finger, because I’m proud to be married, and I’m proud of who I’m married to,” he said. “I’m just so proud of her.”
Juggling their family and careers
After they had two children, Pam decided to leave Hollywood. She opted to give up the spotlight in favor of raising their sons: "I don't think two people can work all the time in show business and stay married," Pam said. Mark's career on the other continued to take off. He landed a slew of roles in iconic shows like "Chicago Hope," "The West Wing," and" NCIS."
"I don't think two people can work all the time in show business and stay married," Pam said in an interview. Adding, "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 ..."
She went on to explain that she "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." She even got to "teach in their art class."
Keeping Their Relationship Personal
"It's not even a choice," Mark told TV Insider. "It's who we are. We stay at home. A lot. 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."
Mark has been in the spotlight for years and has worked out how to avoid being in tabloids. He grew up as the son of sportscaster Tom Harmon and ‘40s screen star Elyse Knox but admits that they "kept things real" and he "had no idea they were famous." Mark and Pam have followed in their footsteps. Recent reports claim the pair renewed their vows in an intimate backyard ceremony as part of the celebration of their 30th wedding anniversary.
We don't know about you guys, but Mark and Pam are definitely relationship goals for us! Not only is it hard to keep a marriage intact these days, but with the pressures of Hollywood and clashing schedules, the pair are truly inspiring in the way they've managed to keep their love alive.