‘NCIS’: Mark Harmon Convinced the Show Creators Not to Change Leroy Gibbs’ Name

by Joe Rutland

When an actor sees a character’s name and likes it, that’s a good sign. “NCIS” star Mark Harmon wanted Gibbs’ name to stay.

As the story goes, Harmon, who plays Gibbs on the long-running CBS crime drama, almost had a different name, according to an article from Parade Magazine.

He said that he started reading a script for a show called “NCIS.” That stands for Naval Criminal Investigative Service, and the show happened to be a spinoff from “JAG.”

‘NCIS’ Star Didn’t Want Original Name Changed For Script

Now the script surprised Harmon, the article states, with its humor. He also loved the character and his name, Leroy Jethro Gibbs. Gibbs is a former U.S. Marine sniper-turned-special agent who commands a special team for NCIS.

“For a moment, when I started getting interested in doing it,” Harmon said, “the name changed to Bob Nelson or something. And I said, ‘Eh…please, can you put the name back?'”

Thankfully for “NCIS” fans, that was done. Could you imagine watching that show with “Bob Nelson” leading the team and not a guy named Leroy Jethro Gibbs? Yeah, we didn’t think so.

Harmon will enter his 19th season playing Gibbs this coming fall on CBS. Yep, David McCallum will also come back as “Ducky” and Sean Murray as Timothy McGee, too. Those three actors have been with “NCIS” since its first season in 2003.

Harmon’s Success Goes Back To 1980s as Star on ‘St. Elsewhere’

By the way, Harmon is no stranger to having success on TV. He was a star on the 1980s hospital drama “St. Elsewhere.” Harmon was such a star that “People Magazine” saw fit, in 1986, to tab him as their “Sexiest Man Alive” that year.

His name is synonymous with acting, but it also is connected with college football. Those hardcore “NCIS” fans who know all about their favorite actors and characters probably know Harmon played at UCLA. He was the starting quarterback for the Bruins. Tom Harmon, Mark’s father, was a Heisman Trophy winner at the University of Michigan in 1940.

The success that Mark Harmon has had through his acting career led him to start his own production company. Wings Productions happens to have an interesting story behind its name. Harmon recalled seeing a silent movie called “Wings” on TV one night as a child. It made such an impression on him that he named his production company after the movie.

“Wings” was a 1927 silent movie that won an Academy Award for Best Picture. It’s probably best known as the movie where actor Gary Cooper, in a small role, gets a boost to his acting career. The movie, though, starred Clara Bow and Charles Rogers.

Harmon is one guy who found his path and just kept working at it. “NCIS” is a show that remains relevant to its fans even after all these years.