Is Mark Harmon Related to Ricky Nelson? The Surprising Connection Between the NCIS Star and the Pop Icon

Mark Harmon is one of the most popular and successful actors on television, thanks to his long-running role as Leroy Jethro Gibbs on NCIS. But did you know that he also has a surprising connection to one of the biggest pop stars of the 1950s and 1960s, Ricky Nelson? Here’s how Mark Harmon is related to Ricky Nelson and how their relationship influenced his career.

Mark Harmon’s Sister Married Ricky Nelson

Mark Harmon is the son of Tom Harmon, a Heisman Trophy-winning football player and broadcaster, and Elyse Knox, a Hollywood actress and model. He also has two older sisters, Kristin and Kelly. In 1963, when Mark was 12 years old, his sister Kristin, who was then 18, married pop star Ricky Nelson.

Ricky Nelson was the son of Ozzie and Harriet Nelson, two iconic stars from the early days of television. The Nelson family starred in The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, a sitcom that ran from 1952 to 1966 and featured their real-life sons, Ricky and David. Ricky Nelson also became a successful singer and musician, with hits like “Hello Mary Lou”, “Travelin’ Man”, and “Garden Party”.

Kristin and Ricky had a tumultuous marriage that lasted for 19 years. They had four children: Tracy, twins Gunnar and Matthew, and Sam. Tracy became an actress, while Gunnar and Matthew formed a rock duo called Nelson. Sam also pursued a career in music.

Mark Harmon Spent Time with Ozzie and Harriet Nelson

Mark Harmon’s relationship with his brother-in-law Ricky Nelson gave him the opportunity to spend time with his parents-in-law, Ozzie and Harriet Nelson. According to an interview with Parade in 2019, Mark said that Ozzie would often join him at the beach when he was working as a lifeguard.

“We’d sit underneath my tower and we’d talk about big band music, as Ozzie started as a big band leader and Harriet was a vocalist,” Mark said.

Ozzie also gave Mark his first acting job when he cast him in an episode of Ozzie’s Girls, a spin-off of The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, in 1973. Mark said that Ozzie let him shadow him around the set and in the editing room, which sparked his interest in acting.

“That changed my course,” Mark said.

Mark Harmon Remained Close to Ricky Nelson’s Children

Mark Harmon’s sister Kristin and brother-in-law Ricky Nelson divorced in 1982, after years of drug abuse and marital problems. Three years later, Ricky died in a tragic plane crash at the age of 45.

Mark Harmon remained close to his nieces and nephews, Tracy, Gunnar, Matthew, and Sam. In fact, he even tried to win custody of Sam in 1987, when he was 12 years old, along with his wife Pam Dawber. They claimed that Kristin was an unfit mother who exposed Sam to drugs and violence.

However, they lost the custody battle after Kristin agreed to enter rehab and therapy. Kristin died in 2018 at the age of 72.

Mark Harmon said that being Ricky Nelson’s former brother-in-law gave him “a really nice relationship” with his children.

“Ricky was a really good guy,” Mark said.


Mark Harmon is not only a famous actor but also a member of a famous family. He is related to Ricky Nelson through his sister Kristin, who married the pop icon in 1963. Their relationship influenced Mark’s career and personal life in many ways. Mark Harmon is still best known for his role as Leroy Jethro Gibbs on NCIS, but he also has a fascinating connection to pop culture history through his brother-in-law Ricky Nelson.

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