Before 'JAG,' David James Elliott popped up on TV as ballplayers, dishwashers and movers

By: H&I Staff    Posted: November 17, 2022, 2:19PM

Ten seasons in one role tends to dominate a resume. Thus, David James Elliott will forever be associated with JAG, the network drama that spawned an entire television universe. A spin-off, NCIS, followed which spread to NCIS: Los Angeles and NCIS: Los Angeles. In total, that adds up to more than 700 episodes of television, and it all began with JAG.

Elliott has become so associated with JAG, those unfamiliar with the show assume his character is named "Jag." Of course, this is not the case. He played Harmon "Harm" Rabb, Jr., a former fighter pilot who worked under the Judge Advocate General (JAG, naturally) in the Navy.

Before doing "Harm," Elliott landed numerous small-screen roles, in everything from sitcoms to romances. Some were recurring roles, others were one-off gigs. Here are seven notable early Elliott performances.


Street Legal

Like so many Canadian actors, Elliott got his start on Canadian television. Following a team of Toronto lawyers, Street Legal was once the longest-running drama in Canadian television history (it was recently surpassed, but a reboot is planned for late 2018). Elliott joined the cast in season three, playing Nick Del Gado. He appeared in a few dozen episodes, largely in season four.


China Beach

This was a minor, uncredited role, but fun nonetheless. The 'Nam medical drama China Beach gave Elliott his first taste of playing an American military man. He turned up as a mysterious government agent named "Mr. Green" who attempted to sneak an assassin out of triage via a body bag.


Doogie Howser, M.D.

Elliott played an actor playing a doctor in this memorable episode. His character, Rick O'Neill, starred on a hit show within the show called LA Med. The Hollywood hunk shadows Doogie to learn more about being a doctor.


Knots Landing

Late in the run of this primetime soap — in its last season, in fact — Elliott briefly joined the cast as baseball player Bill Nolan. He briefly romances Paige (Nicollette Sheridan) and tries to convince her to leave the country after he signs to a team in Japan.


The Untouchables

This overlooked reboot of the classic Robert Stack series gave Elliott his first significant role. He was one of the series' stars, Agent Paul Robbins, a T-man under the legendary Eliot Ness. William Forsythe shined as Al Capone. The syndicated show lasted two seasons.



Elliott put his good looks to good use on the brilliant sitcom, briefly playing one of Elaine's flames. You may remember him as Carl, the hunky furniture mover who delivers a couch. Handsome, yes, but rather terrible at catching grape juice, it turns out. From ballplayer on Knots Landing to someone who can't catch… Hollywood!


Melrose Place

In his final, notable pre-JAG role, Elliott temporarily joined the gang on Melrose Place, portraying Terry Parsons, a former NFL player struggling with alcoholism and sex addiction, washing dishes to get by. In his recovery programs, he meets Alison (Courtney Thorne-Smith) and the two become an item for a handful of episodes. A few months later, he was headlining JAG.