‘NCIS’ Star Mark Harmon Once Wore the Same Tuxedo on the Series He Wore When Meeting John Wayne With His Father

by Suzanne Halliburton
Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Stand Up To Cancer

NCIS star Mark Harmon and his old tuxedo — let’s call it the John Wayne tuxedo — can tell a fun, incredible story.

And some very astute NCIS watchers on Reddit noticed that Harmon wore a similar, if not the same, tuxedo on a significant episode earlier in season 18. That’s the one called Everything Starts Somewhere, which was part flashback, filling in more details on how Gibbs met Ducky. The show was first aired Nov. 24 during Thanksgiving week and it featured scenes from 1980 wrapped up in current NCIS times.

So let’s flashback to the tuxedo. Back in 1973, Harmon still was years away from his broad TV success. Rather, he’d just finished his senior season as UCLA’s star quarterback. There were few quarterbacks in the country who could run a Wishbone offense like Harmon. But Harmon also had another distinction. He made great grades.

The National Football Foundation honored Harmon for his combo of academic and athletic achievements. The NFF throws a big banquet in New York each December. It’s a black-tie affair. But Harmon didn’t get the dress code memo. That’s why he needed to rent a tuxedo at a store across the street from the Waldorf Astoria. He got the light gray tux with a frilly shirt he saw in the front window. Every other man at the banquet was wearing a black tux.

John Wayne Referred to Future NCIS Star as a ‘Rebel’

Here’s how John Wayne fits into the story. The NFF also was honoring Wayne that night with its Gold Medal. We weren’t kidding when we said the NFF banquet was a big deal. In interviews two years ago, Harmon, the NCIS star, said Wayne called him a “rebel” for his choice in evening attire. Wayne, like Harmon, played college football. He was a lineman for Southern California, UCLA’s great rival.

 “All night he called me, Rebel,” the NCIS star recalled. “The autograph on the event program—I still have it— he wrote: ‘To The Rebel:  May the wind always be at your back. -John Wayne.”

John Wayne was in two movies in 1973 — The Train Robbers and Cahill, US Marshal.

(Photo by Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)

You can check out the photo of the future NCIS star with John Wayne here.

That night, Harmon was with his dad, Tom Harmon, a star for the Michigan Wolverines who won the Heisman Trophy in 1940. Together, they met John Wayne, the international superstar.

Then in 2019, Harmon was honored with the same gold medal award from the NFF that Wayne received in 1973. It had come full circle.

Now, about the tuxedo. A Reddit user and fan of NCIS posted “Am I the only one who noticed that Mark Harmon actually wore the tux from episode 400 back in 1973 when he and his dad (Heisman Trophy winner) met John “ The Duke “ Wayne?”

Another NCIS fan responded: “Lol, looks like all 6 of my brothers’ tuxes from their proms. Though one had a white one….like Tony in Saturday Night Fever. One had a light blue, but, yea, the rest had pretty much the same one. Ahhhh….the 70’s.”