Mark Harmon's Sister: The Tragic Life Of Kristin Harmon
NCIS star Mark Harmon comes from a famous Hollywood family. Not many know that his sister Kristin had a meteoric rise in Hollywood and a heartbreaking journey.
Mark Harmon's older sister Kristin Harmon has had a troubled life that few knew about. Hollywood ate her up in the sad way that countless others have been consumed.
Mark Harmon's Sister Kristin Harmon
Mark, Kelly, and Kristin Harmon were all born to football star Tom Harmon and actress Elyse Knox. Kristin was the oldest sibling and became infatuated with Ricky Nelson when she was 12 years old. Ricky was the son of Hollywood stars Ozzie and Harriet Nelson.
Kristin and Ricky began dating as she became a bit older and the two announced their engagement when she was 17. The pair married in 1963 when she turned 18 and Ricky was 23 in 1963. Kristin gave birth to their first child Tracy six months later which led to Ricky referring to their union as a "shotgun wedding" to the tabloids.
Kristen then went on to star alongside her husband on the show The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. They went on to have 3 more children together, Gunnar, Matthew, and Sam. Kristin went on to star in a few Hollywood productions like Adam-12, and The Resurrection of Broncho Billy.
Kristen became very honest about the party lifestyle she shared with her rock star husband. She told People in 1987, "We were hippie rock n' rollers. We did what everyone else was doing all those years." Both became heavily involved in drugs while touring and "After a while, we were totally messed up, both of us."
"I got into therapy and so did he for a while but then he started not showing up. I tried telling my family, there’s a drug problem here and we’ve all got to help. But they totally denied there was anything wrong."
She and Ricky would end up having a back and forth relationship, breaking up in 1977 when Kristin moved her children out of their house while Ricky was on tour and caught him in their family home with 2 Los Angeles Rams cheerleaders. Ricky believed that his wife had set him up so that she could win custody of their children in court.
They got back together for a few years and purchased a home together in 1980 but their arguments about Ricky touring continued. Finally, by 1982 their divorce was finalized with both slinging mud at each other via the media.
She then worked as a casting director and sold paintings. She admitted to People that at this point she consumed drugs and alcohol "quite heavily" even being too inebriated to paint. Tragically, shortly thereafter in 1985, Ricky, his fiancé Helen Blair and his band all died in a plane crash in Texas.
This spurred Kristin's self-destructive behavior. Her elder children were out of the house by this point except for her youngest Sam who had reached out to his uncle Mark Harmon. Their sister Kelly Harmon told People, Sam had begged "Get me out of here. I can't take it anymore. My mother is like a hill. First, she’s up, then she’s down."
Mark and his new wife Pam Dawber found Kristin grocery shopping with Sam while she was allegedly under the influence. Kristin was openly combative with her parents and family except for her brother Mark who convinced her to check into rehab. She said, "Nobody but my brother could have talked me into this because I trusted him. A voice inside me said, 'For once in your life, let somebody help you.'"
After more familial turmoil Mark fought to have custody of Sam with whom Sam asked to stay with. After a grueling back and forth custody battle, where young 12-year-old Sam drew a picture of Kristin in the form of a scary dragon, Kristin eventually gained back custody of Sam when Mark dropped the charges. Kristin even agreed to go to family counseling with both Mark and her son Sam.
Kristin eventually married Mark Tinker in 1988 for 12 years before divorcing in 2000.
Kristin sobered and grew a much better relationship with Sam who told Medium that as an adult he became "absolutely close" with his mother. He described their journey: "As you get older, things that were important aren’t important anymore. Problems aren’t problems anymore. You work through them, or you don’t. But for the most part, you hope to. I think we’re in a good way together, and we have a good relationship."
She lived a more private life as she got older and sadly passed away on April 27th, 2018. Tract wrote on Facebook announcing the loss of her mother who died suddenly from a heart attack. She described her mother as "A force. A reckoning. Artist, first, always. Anarchist, bohemian, beauty. Hurricane Kris. No one could blow the house down like she could. And no one could make something out of nothing like she could."
Her daughter Tracy is an actress, Gunnar and Matthew formed the successful band, Nelson, and Sam formed the band H is Orange. While her Hollywood career was filled with sadness, her life changed dramatically for the better with the help of her loving family and left great memories with his parents, siblings, and children.