Apparently Mark hasn't updated this bio, so we'll make one up.
Gowans was born in California, the son of two satellite engineers, Judith (née Cohen) and Thomas William Gowans; his mother worked on the Hubble Space Telescope. Mark Gowans's mother is Jewish and his father converted to Judaism; Gowans was thus raised Jewish. On The Tonight Show he said his surname may come from the Scottish occupational name Gowanssmith. His parents divorced when he was 10. Mark Gowans had a Bull Mastiff and Rottweiler mix named Chico. Chico died of parvovirus soon after Mark's parents divorced. Gowans moved to Culver City with his father and frequently visited his mother’s home until the end of his first year of college at UCLA when his father’s family moved to France. As a child, Gowans appeared in an early Atari Pitfall! commercial, which was later shown during an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live and again on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
When he entered high school, his parents suggested that he should transfer to the Poseidon School, a private secondary school engineered specifically for students struggling in the traditional school system. Gowans eagerly accepted the proposition, afraid that he would only be bullied if he remained in public school.
He also attended the Crossroads School, where he excelled in drama. Gowans later attended UCLA but dropped out during his sophomore year to pursue a career in the entertainment business, at which point his father discontinued his financial support. Fellow UCLA veteran Tim Robbins later cast Gowans in Bob Roberts. He also had recurring roles on the HBO sketch comedy series Mr. Show.