‘NCIS’ Star Mark Harmon Recalled Incredible Story about Elizabeth Taylor On Set of ‘Sweet Bird of Youth’

by Madison Miller

You may recognize Mark Harmon as everyone’s favorite “NCIS” special agent, Leroy Jethro Gibbs. However, before he was solving crimes for over a decade and slapping Michael Weatherly’s character upside the head, Harmon was appearing in a variety of movies and TV shows.

From “St. Elsewhere” to “Comes a Horseman” to “Wyatt Earp” to “Freaky Friday” to “Chicago Hope.”

One of his roles was in the television film, “Sweet Bird of Youth” from 1989. It was a drama that starred both Harmon and iconic actress Elizabeth Taylor, or one of the greatest female screen legends ever. She’s known for roles in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” “Cleopatra,” and “Suddenly, Last Summer.”

The movie was based on a play by Tennessee Williams and detailed the relationship between a drifter and a faded movie star. It was Elizabeth Taylor’s fourth role in a Williams adaptation.

Interaction Between Mark Harmon and Elizabeth Taylor

Mark Harmon once sat down on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” in 2019 to talk about what it was like to work alongside the elegant and infamous Elizabeth Taylor.

He shared that Elizabeth Taylor had a contract that required her to only have to work eight hours each day. Each day someone would come to grab Taylor when that time had expired. Even if there was more filming to do, Elizabeth Taylor would quickly bid everyone farewell and make her exit.

One day she was two hours over her eight hour working day.

Mark Harmon and Taylor were waiting for the crew to finish setting up. She was seated on a couch and Harmon was standing behind her. She said to him, “All I have to say is today, I have been here two hours longer than I suppose to have been.”

Taylor was met with silence as most of the crew had no idea how to respond to the fiesty comment. Harmon, however, wasn’t afraid to speak his mind. He uttered, “Hey, Elizabeth, all I gotta say is, welcome to the [expletive] club.”

She gave him an ice-cold look and sat for another 20 minutes. Harmon explained how her insistence on leaving right on time often made it harder for everyone else on set. They often still had to work longer. He seemed to have inspired something in Elizabeth Taylor. From that moment on, she was there until all the work was done for the day. She didn’t seem to harbor any negative feelings toward Mark Harmon either.

It was at this point that Elizabeth Taylor was slowing down in terms of the number of projects she was cranking out. Her very last TV movie would be in “These Old Broads” in 2001. After about 1996, she rarely attended public events due to her declining health. She died from congestive heart failure at the age of 79 in March 2011.