Mark Harmons The acting career spans nearly five decades. During that time he was the star of five different primetime dramas – Flamingo Road, St. Elsewhere, Reasonable Doubt, Chicago Hope, and NCIS. But before he became one of the most bankable stars on TVHarmon was an award-winning college quarterback at UCLA.
In 1973, his performance on the gridlock led to an award from the National Football Foundation. While attending the awards ceremony, Harmon made a rebellious dress choice that led to a hilarious interaction with film legend John Wayne.
Mark Harmon was UCLA’s quarterback for two seasons
Harmon was the one Starting quarterback for UCLA in the 1972 and 1973 seasons he led the Bruins to a record of 17-5. His father, Tom Harmon, was also a gifted QB, winning the Heisman Trophy after scoring 33 touchdowns for the University of Michigan.
Growing up, Harmon’s father worked as a football broadcaster. The actor says his love of the sport came from his father, and he loved watching old clips of Tom when he was little.
“I was literally like 8 years old before I realized my dad was ever being attacked for hitting the roll every time he got the ball,” Harmon said parade.
When the younger Harmon won his National Football Foundation gold medal in 1973, he attended the ceremony with his father. Also in attendance was movie star John Wayne. And Harmon’s rebellious choice of clothes led to a hilarious interaction with the legendary actor.
The future ‘NCIS’ star made a rebellious dress choice at the last minute
At a performance on The late show with Stephen Colbert, said Harmon that the 1973 awards night was quite memorable for many reasons. It was Colbert who broached the subject by showing a photo of Harmon standing next to his father and John Wayne. And the talk show host couldn’t help but point out Harmon’s tuxedo.
“You were a handsome man, a radiantly handsome man,” said Colbert. “But you couldn’t even get that tuxedo to work.”
Harmon explained that the event took place in New York City and that he had brought a suit from California. But at the last minute, he found out the event was for tuxedos only.
“I brought a suit [and] I go there [to New York City] and they said, ‘You must have a tuxedo.’ 1973 again. There was a tuxedo shop across the street,” Harmon explained. “I crossed the street. A dove-gray tuxedo with a baggy, ruffled shirt stood in front of the window, and that was me. That’s all I can say.”
Mark Harmon’s tuxedo led to a hilarious interaction with John Wayne
Harmon revealed that his bold outfit choice surprised Wayne, who ended up calling him “rebel” all night.
“He signed my program: ‘For the rebel, may the wind always be at your back, John Wayne,'” Harmon recalled.
Despite his success on the football field, Harmon did not pursue a career as a professional athlete. Instead, he accidentally stumbled into acting after his sister Kristin married Ricky Nelson. He was the son of Ozzie and Harriet Nelson, stars of The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.
Harmon filled in one night at the spin-off Ozzie’s girl for an actor who couldn’t make it, and the acting bug bit right away. He says the experience “changed my course” and he forgot about football and started taking acting classes.
It wasn’t long before Harmon landed small roles on television before getting his big break in the early ’80s flamingo road and St Elsewhere.
New episodes of NCIS Air Monday nights on CBS.
https://www.cheatsheet.com/entertainment/how-mark-harmons-rebellious-wardrobe-choice-led-hilarious-interaction-john-wayne.html/ How Mark Harmon’s rebellious wardrobe choices led to a hilarious interaction with John Wayne