You may know him best for his role as the tough, no-nonsense “Boss” in CBS’s N.C.I.S., but Mark Harmon was a star athlete in his college days. He will be among the dozen men who will be inducted into the two-year college’s sports Hall of Fame.
When Harmon attended Los Angeles Pierce College located in Woodland Hills, California, in the early 1970s, an acting career wasn’t on his mind; he had his sights set on a medical career and college sports was something he just enjoyed doing, he said.
Although he could have attended Santa Monica City College, as it was known then, which was much closer to his Brentwood home, he chose the picturesque San Fernando Valley Pierce campus that is most noted for its agricultural program, because in his words:
"I wanted to go to school for a year and half, get an AA degree by spring of my sophomore year and then go to the (four-year) college where I wanted to be."
"Santa Monica College would have been closer - I still lived at home with my parents (in Brentwood), but coming from where I did and the kind of experience I had in the classroom and on the field, Pierce was a gold mine for me. I was a student first. They had great teachers, some of them who were on sabbatical from local universities. It had a great campus and it was a great place to be."
He excelled at sports at Pierce as he did at UCLA, where he discovered he was much better at baseball than at football, he said. While at UCLA, Harmon earned a degree in communications, which led to his acting career.
Gratified by the honor, Harmon said:
"I owe this (Hall of Fame induction honor) to Pierce. That was a very important time in my life, when I made a decision to head in that direction. There were no guarantees, and not a lot of people said I was making a smart choice, but I'm proud of the process. Often times it's the process instead of the end result that you value most. The people I met in those two years - and we all went different directions after that - I'm happy it worked out the way it did."
Among the dozen men to be inducted tomorrow are four who went on from Pierce to have successful professional careers in sports: Erik Kramer, football quarterback; Doug DeCinces, third baseman for the Orioles and Angels; Denny Crum, a successful college basketball coach; and former Cy Young Award winner Barry Zito.
Among other thing in his long and successful acting career, Harmon was voted “Sexiest Man Alive by People Magazine.
The closest he ever came to having a career in medicine was two leading roles portraying doctors in two television series: “St. Elsewhere” and “Chicago Hope.”
Harmon is married to actress Pam Dawber. They have two grown sons.