Mark Harmon: ‘Treat people the same’ no matter who they are

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I’ve always liked Mark Harmon. I can actually remember when he was named Sexiest Man Alive, my mom bought that issue. The main reason I liked Mark was because my parents like him. They liked that he was Ricky Nelson’s brother in law and my mother was all swoony over the fact that he graduated cum laude from UCLA. Personally, I thought he was cool because he was Mindy from Mork & Mindy’s husband. FWIW, I still think it’s cool that he’s Pam Dawber’s husband and has been for 31 years. My father’s main attraction to Mark was his father, Tom Harmon, who was a Heisman Trophy winning halfback at Michigan and served as a pilot in World War II before playing for the LA Rams. According to Mark’s latest cover interview in People, my father was right to hold Tom in such high regard because Mark does as well, and most of his life’s philosophy comes from his dad.

After four decades in the spotlight, Mark Harmon has mastered the keys to his successful career — and credits them to one of the most influential people in his life: his father.

“My dad taught me, if it’s not true, don’t worry about it,” the NCIS star tells PEOPLE in this week’s cover story.

“I come from working stock, and I’m proud of that. You have to get up every day and just try hard,” says Harmon, 67. “That’s what I still wake up willing to do: try my hardest.”

Although Harmon’s dad died suddenly at age 70 when the star was just 38, the longtime actor continues to follow the profound advice that Tom imparted.

“Work your ass off, and don’t let the effort show,” he says. “Also: Treat people the same, not based on who they are or what they are. Show them common kindness. Don’t be colored by their fame or profession. I don’t get all excited by people blowing smoke up my ass. You have to stay honest.”

And while some may be struck by luck alone and propelled to stardom, Harmon believes his long-lasting career in Hollywood required more.

“I’m a lucky guy,” he says, “but you earn luck.”

[From People]

As I said, Tom Harmon played in the NFL but did not have the career his college days promised. So he went into broadcasting and became a very successful and popular broadcaster. It sounds like he lived by all the Dadisms he doled out to Mark. I wholly support the notion of treating people the same. This is probably the best advice Mark received. Not just because it’s the right thing to do but because living in LA, you definitely see it go the other way. It’s kind of gross and I’ve changed my opinion on many acquaintances because of it. But it’s the last bit that I like the best, the one about luck. Mark was always handsome and his mother was actress Elyse Knox so his ‘luck’ came with a healthy dose of genetics and nepotism but I love the idea that you can earn luck. It gives me hope for those I know who are genuinely good people, like they will get their lucky break because they are earning their luck now. It’s a nice thought in a dire time.

I alluded to the fact that Mark’s oldest sister, Kristin, was married to Ricky Nelson for almost 20 years, which makes him uncle to the rock group Nelson, but I didn’t know that Mark’s other sister, Kelly, was married to John DeLorean for five years. I’m having so many childhood flashbacks writing this story. Ultimately, though, I get the sense that Mark is a good guy and I’d probably like to hang out with him and Pam and hear all this fatherly advice in person… and maybe stare at him dreamily while doing so.

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