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The April 6 episode of NCIS featured the debut of Pam Dawber as journalist Marcie Warren. Because she is the real-life wife of series star Mark Harmon, the CBS procedural has tried numerous times over the years to convince the former Mork & Mindy star to appear alongside her husband. This time she finally said “yes” — with one specific condition.
Pam Dawber always had a reason not to appear on ‘NCIS’
Harmon has been the star of NCIS since it’s debut in 2003. For nearly 18 seasons, he’s played the role of Leroy Jethro Gibbs. Since his wife of nearly 35 years was the star of two different network sitcoms in the 1980s, NCIS producers have attempted to get Dawber on the show multiple times. But, she always had a reason to say “no.”
“The show has been on for a hundred years, and they have come at me a few times,” Dawber told Entertainment Weekly. “Either I just didn’t want to do it or I didn’t appreciate what it was they wanted me to do. Or it was near Christmas and it was like, “I can’t do this. I’ve got my parents coming into town.” I just haven’t been interested in, you know, chasing the business.”
The former ‘Mork & Mindy’ star decided to stop acting full-time when she became a mom
Dawber and Harmon tied the knot in March 1987. At the time, she was the star of My Sister Sam. People magazine had just named him the Sexiest Man Alive after his three-season run as Dr. Robert Caldwell on St. Elsewhere.
But after the couple welcomed their sons Sean in 1988 and Ty in 1992, Dawber decided to stop acting full-time so she could focus on raising her children.
“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,” Dawber told Good Housekeeping. “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.’”
Pam Dawber had one condition when she agreed to appear on ‘NCIS’
Over the past three decades, Dawber has worked occasionally. But her last TV appearance was five years ago when she had a cameo in The Odd Couple reboot. The 69-year-old didn’t think she would say yes to NCIS when they offered her the role of Marcie. But, when she read the script she “fell in love with what they wrote.”
Dawber eventually decided to accept the role, but she had one specific condition before she signed on the dotted line.
“I talked to the writers and the producers before I signed on and said, “If this is a romantic interest, I’m not interested.” They said not at all, that’s not where we’re going with this,” Dawber revealed.
No romance, just journalism
Instead of being a love interest for Gibbs, Dawber’s character is an investigative journalist who is looking into his indefinite suspension. She’s heard about what happened, but no one will talk to her about it.
“So she’s trying to figure out what happened, because there’s a big lawsuit now with the guy. She found out where Gibbs hangs out and tried to cozy up to him because she wants information,” Dawber explained.
Pam Dawber was really nervous to appear on ‘NCIS’
Once she agreed to the role, Dawber says she immediately had anxiety. She started asking herself, “Oh my God, am I going to do this?” She says she was nervous because everyone has large-screen HDTVs, which causes her “fear bubbles.” She started wondering if she would be able to remember her lines, and if she would “suck.”
Despite her anxiety, Dawber was able to film her four episodes. But, she says she won’t watch the DVDs they sent her of the episodes because she doesn’t want to get hung up on how old she looks or how much she hates her hair. She calls her graying locks “COVID-19 platinum.”
NCIS airs Tuesdays on CBS.
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