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Remembering Mark Harmon's Iconic SNL Appearance Wherein He Left Little to the Imagination

Titi Dokubo
Oct 18, 2021
11:30 P.M.

In 1986, Mark Harmon, who recently left the "NCIS" show after 18 years, was named People's Sexiest Man Alive, and the next year, he made waves on the "Saturday Night Live" show.


Even though he had appeared in many roles in the 70s, he became a star in the mid-80s after he showed up as Dr. Robert Caldwell in the medical drama series "St. Elsewhere."

This was the role that led him to become People's Sexiest Man Alive. After several movies and series, he joined the "NCIS" team as Supervisory Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs and executive producer.

Photo of Mark Harmon laughing and another of him in a towel | Photo: Getty Images, Youtube.com/Saturday Night Live

Photo of Mark Harmon laughing and another of him in a towel | Photo: Getty Images, Youtube.com/Saturday Night Live


Winning the title of "Sexiest Man Alive" came as a surprise to Harmon. He had gone out to play basketball with his friends only to find out that they had covered the boards with the cover of the magazine.

He had initially felt silly about the win, but it also didn't hurt his career. He also knew that there were people who took the title more seriously than he did.

Mark Harmon at the TV Guide Magazine's and CBS's celebration of Mark Harmon and 15 seasons of NCIS on November 6, 2017 in California | Photo: Getty Images

Mark Harmon at the TV Guide Magazine's and CBS's celebration of Mark Harmon and 15 seasons of NCIS on November 6, 2017 in California | Photo: Getty Images

However, Harmon, who has a strong sense of humor, advises other honorees also to have a sense of humor. This sense of humor was proven when he hosted the 1987 "Saturday Night Live."

Now, the title was not the only thing he found humor in, as he also found humor in the sketches after the title. He said with every sketch; he noticed that he had a little less clothing than everyone else.


For that reason, he decided to 'throw in the towel' and show up for his SNL monologue wearing nothing but a towel. He explained to his audience that he felt like he was being used ever since he became the "Sexiest Man Alive."

The show was fun for him, but he felt the costume was degrading. He had to argue his way through and finally won. In his opinion, ever since he won the silly award, he didn't want his arguing to mean that he was difficult.

In one of the sketches hosted by 'Peter Graves' on SNL, Harmon contested with 'F. Murray Abraham' to be graded on five categories that included vulnerability.

Harmon came on stage wearing leopard print underwear and a pair of black socks. He decorated his bare body with a sash bearing his name as he strutted down the runway.


His co-contestant also strutted the stage in animal print underwear to the delight of the audience. Harmon was announced as the winner and was given a sash to show his new title.

He was also handed a bouquet and a staff of office while the host sang to his heart's delight. Harmon was all laughter and tears as he showed that he had fun with this sketch.



With nineteen seasons under its belt, NCIS is currently the longest-running series still in production on television, and Harmon has been a part of the show since the beginning.

Despite rumors that he was leaving the show for various reasons, Harmon has stayed on. However, he has appeared in limited roles in season 19, leading to more speculation about leaving.


Before he became a star on "NCIS," and even before he started acting, he wanted to be a carpenter but ended up working in sales. He decided to start acting after realizing he didn't want to wind up unhappy in his job.

As a boy, he knew the importance of education and decided to focus on then even though the NFL recruited him during his teens. His education was more important than playing football, even though his father had a successful football career.


Before he made his screen debut, he appeared in an advertisement for Kellogg's Corn Flakes alongside his father.

In 1983, Harmon stumbled on the auditions for "St. Elsewhere" when he auditioned for "Bay City Blues." In "St. Elsewhere," he helped to spread awareness for AIDS.


He played the role of a heterosexual physician that had AIDS. This role helped the public to become aware that the disease is not exclusive to homosexual men.

However, he made his acting debut in 1973 when he appeared as Mark Johnson, a guest role, in an episode of "Ozzie's Girls." This experience was what led him to consider acting as a career.


After a few more series, he starred as Billy Joe Meynert in the 1978 movie "Comes a Horseman." He got his first Primetime Emmy nominations in 1977.

The nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie came for the TV film "Eleanor and Franklin: The White House Years."


His appearances on the small screen and series in the '80s follow one another in series such as "The Love Boat," "St. Elsewhere," "Prince of Bel-Air," and "Moonlighting," where he faces Bruce Willis.

In 2002, he played the role of Agent Simon Donovan in the series "The West Wing." This role earned him a second Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series.


Besides his acting career and two children, Harmon also prides himself in his long marriage to Pam Dawber. The couple has been married since 1987.

Dawber credits their marriage longevity to deciding that they can't both be in the industry if they want to make it. Pam left her Hollywood career behind and allowed Harmon to take center stage.


Her reasoning is that celebrity couples are often the source of scandalous media stories, which ruins marriages. She also feels that famous people should try their best to keep their children out of the media.

She recently joined him on the set of "NCIS" for four episodes. She joined the show on April 6 as a guest star, where she played investigative reporter Marcie Warren.

The series was the first time the couple worked on a show together before. However, they have also collaborated on a feature film and a theater production.

She is not the only member of the family to have been on the show, as one of his sons joined the show when he played a young version of Leroy Jethro Gibbs.

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