From Football Star To TV Star
Feb 01, 2023Posted by james

One doesn’t become the “Sexiest Man Alive” overnight. People bestowed that title upon Mark Harmon during 1986. He was a star on the St. Elsewhere television program. By then, though, the actor was not new to the star scene. He had played college football and then portrayed a police officer with a dog partner in Sam (1977) and a helicopter rescue hero in 240-Robert (1979).

After attending a community college, Mark made the quantum leap to the big time at the University of California, Los Angeles. As the quarterback, Mark led UCLA during the 1972 and 1973 seasons. In his first game as a starter, his Bruins recorded a shocking upset over two-time defending champions Nebraska.

Mark was photogenic and now he was successful on the field. Plus, he was just a few miles away from the Hollywood studios. But, Mark needed a little more help to move him into his acting career. The push came from sister Kristin and Dragnet creator Jack Webb.

Kristin had married teen idol Rick Nelson and enjoyed a role on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. Mark was just 12 at this time, so he was not quite ready for his primetime debut on television or the sports field. However, during 1973, after his star role at UCLA, a reboot show, Ozzie’s Girls, brought Ozzie and Harriet back to television. Through his sister, Mark nabbed a walk-on role. Kristin would enjoy only one other significant recurring role on television — portraying Jean Reed, the wife of Officer Jim Reed (Kent McCord) on Adam-12. But, that show’s connection to Jack Webb helped Mark.

Mark had turned down offers to play pro football. He dabbled with law school, worked at an ad agency and sold shoes. Finally, with his sister’s support, he sought advice from Jack, who secured guest spots for Mark on Emergency! and Adam-12. The football rolled from there – Sam, 240-Robert, St. Elsewhere and then NCIS along with plenty of appearances on other television shows and in films.

So, you just never know when or how a break will lead to a lifetime of success on or off the sports field.

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