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How Pam Dawber Really Felt When She Joined Her Husband Mark Harmon On NCIS

Ever since "NCIS" premiered on CBS in 2003, Mark Harmon has starred as Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs, commander of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. When he was cast, producers saw him as a perfect fit, and 18 years later, he's still at it with a highly successful career on a top-rated show. But where has his wife, Pam Dawber, been all these years?

Famous for starring opposite Robin Williams in the sitcom "Mork & Mindy" during the late '70s and early '80s, Dawber is an actress in her own right. She didn't quit the business altogether after marrying Harmon in 1987, appearing with him in the play "Love Letters" in 1990 and the movie "I'll Remember April" in 1999. With two sons to raise, however, she stepped back. "I wanted to drive my kids to school. I wanted to be there for their birthdays and bring cupcakes and donuts and do the school festivals and all that — and I did," she said, according to "SoapHub." "I got to teach in their art class and so it was a different life then and I was very happy to do it."

With the boys grown up, however, 2021 is the perfect time for her to jump back into acting with her new role on "NCIS." But even for an actress as talented and revered as Dawber, joining your husband on his hit show isn't as simple as it sounds.

Pam Dawber's first answer was no

Up to now, Pam Dawber had her reasons for not appearing on "NCIS." She'd turn down a role if it didn't feel right or if the timing didn't fit with her family's schedule. She wasn't even sure she felt like acting anymore. After all, it's been a minute since she last appeared onscreen in 2016, on "The Odd Couple" on CBS. "I just haven't been interested in, you know, chasing the business. At this age, that's what you do," Dawber told "Entertainment Weekly." "I just don't want to put myself out anymore."

When the role of Marcie Warren was being developed for "NCIS," Mark Harmon didn't even tell his wife about it. But he did mention it to her agent since the part seemed perfect for her. Dawber would have the chance to play a witty investigative journalist — if she wanted it.

Dawber's gut told her to turn it down. But she was willing to listen and learn. If she had the tiniest glimmer of interest in playing a part on "NCIS," there was one trap she knew she wanted to avoid. She definitely didn't want to play a romantic role opposite her husband. The question was: Did this role meet that critical requirement?

She felt some reservations

When "NCIS" producers ensured Pam Dawber that Marcie wouldn't be a romantic interest for Gibbs on the show, she was relieved and happy to move forward. She was captivated by the character, a woman willing to go the extra mile to uncover the truth. Still, she had lingering reservations, too. "I had anxiety like, 'Oh my God, am I going to do this?'" she told "Entertainment Weekly." "All of the fear bubbles (start) to come up. Can I even remember lines anymore? What if I suck?"

She remembered how she never liked seeing her own performances on "Mork & Mindy." Looking older onscreen at 69 was another concern. And she didn't like her hair, either. She could think of plenty of reasons to stick to her original answer and continue to stay out of the spotlight. At the same time, almost despite herself, she could think of reasons to say yes, too. "The character is so good," Dawber said. "I just fell in love with what they wrote."

Dawber decided to do it, appearing in her first episode on April 6, 2021, and gearing up for a four-episode story arc. Signed on and committed, she had to wonder: Was this the right decision?

Pam Dawber did her part and Mark Harmon did his

As Marcie Warren, Pam Dawber jumps into a storyline involving Gibbs' mysterious dismissal from his position. It happened because he attacked a man for torturing animals. But Marcie doesn't know that, so she has to dig around for answers. In preparation for the role, Dawber conducted her own style of investigative research. "My character is a journalist. She's like Robin Abcarian at 'The Los Angeles Times.' We've become pen pals," Dawber told "Entertainment Weekly." "I actually stole one of her lines that we inserted into the script."

At ease with the business of acting and comfortable on a set she'd visited plenty of times over the past 18 years, Dawber only needed one more thing to really nail her "NCIS" debut and believe she'd made the right choice: unwavering support from the show's star, her husband, Mark Harmon. And that's exactly what she got. "My husband is so supportive of me," Dawber said. "He's just a giving, great guy."