29 facts about Tom Selleck and Magnum P.I.

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Tom Selleck was the hunky heartthrob who took over the screen when he starred in the famous eighties show, Magnum P.I. The man and his glorious mustache made everyone fall in love with the private investigator from Oahu, Hawaii. It offered everything you wanted to see on television at the time, from crime solving to Hawaiian shirts. These are 29 secrets and facts from the show which ran for eight seasons and was ranked as one of the most beloved American television series of all time.

A star named Mustache

Tom Selleck was known for many things, but his mustache definitely one of his most iconic features. In fact, his bushy facial hair was so iconic that it entered the International Mustache Hall of Fame, and yes, there is such as thing. The 72-year-old has a long term relationship with his furry feature, in fact it has been his signature look for almost as long as his entire career. The famous mustache even has its own social media pages, that’s how iconic it is.

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The pilots that never took off

The Magnum P.I. lead star’s success didn’t come so easily for the young actor and he couldn’t be categorized as an overnight sensation. Moreover, Selleck’s television success didn’t just wait around the corner. Before his got his big break on the successful hit show, Selleck was part of the filming of six different television pilots that never really went on air. We guess it was worth the wait, because his role as Thomas Magnum sure did earn him the fame that he deserved.

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Higgins’ accent

It’s not easy to pull off an accent, especially a British one. Only certain talented actors and actresses have the ability to fake an accent for a role. It was undoubtedly a big surprise to find out that John Hillerman who played the role of Jonathan Higgins, wasn’t really British. Higgins was portrayed as an army veteran who served in the British Army. The actor was actually born in Texas and is a veteran from the U.S Air Force.

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One man’s loss is another man’s gain

We wonder if Tom Selleck ever received a thank you note from Harrison Ford, after all the latter does own him a lot. Tom Selleck was originally offered the classic role of Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark, but due to a tight schedule while filming Magnum P.I, the actor had to turn down the offer. The role instead went to Harrison Ford. Selleck did have a chance to experience a little bit of ‘Indian Jones’ in the episode ‘Legend of the Lost Art’ that was aired in season eight.

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A family affair

Not one, but two of Selleck’s wives have made appearances on Magnum P.I. His first wife, Jacqueline Ray, was part of season three’s episode, ‘Birdman of Budapest’. His current wife, Jillie Mack, whom he married in 1987 had a small role in an episode from season four named, ‘Rembrandt’s Girl’ where she played a girl at a party. In addition, his parents and also made brief appearances on the famous show.

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Selleck’s secret talents

While many actors in Hollywood are known to have different talents besides acting, such as singing, dancing and others, not many of them are involved in professional sports. Not many people know this fact about the actor, but Selleck is a multi-talented man who was actually part of Hawaii’s Outrigger Canoe Club’s volleyball team when they won two national championships.

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Too tall for a Porsche

It sounds almost petty, but the famous red Ferrari that Thomas Magnum used drive around Hawaii and the different set locations wasn’t the original automobile choice of the director. The car that the famous private investigator was supposed to drive was a Porsche, but due to Selleck’s 6’4 figure, he wasn’t going to fit in the luxurious car and the company didn’t want to customize the vehicle to fit his measures.

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It’s a man’s job

Before the filming of the show began and before the cameras started rolling, Selleck needed to find a daily job in an attempt to make ends meet. Selleck, who was already settled in his Hawaiian residence in order to stay close to the set, took things into his own hands, literally, when he did some handyman jobs for several months where he made only $7 an hour. At the end of the day, a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.

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Role playing

It’s not always the case that actors become involved in the screenplays and the characterisation of the characters, but apparently Selleck had quite the impact on the creative team when he suggested to twist his character’s James Bondish-typecast who is also incredible charming into a more average guy and probably more approachable that the audience eventually got to know and fall in love with.

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The famous guest stars

If there is ever something more neat than looking back at shows from the seventies and eighties, it’s to go back and see famous stars of today making appearances as guest stars on those historic and iconic shows. Some of the more famous people as we know today that were on the show were Ted Danson, Ian McShane and even the lovely Sharon Stone who played the role of identical twins in a 2-part episode.

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Location, location, location

Sometimes you just have to work with what you’ve got and sometimes the best things are right under your nose, or in the case of Magnum P.I., the perfect set was already there. One of the reasons that the show is set in Hawaii, is not necessarily due to a creative choice, but it’s only because the producers at CBS wanted to to keep their offices open after Hawaii Five-O went off the air, and their new show just happened to fit their needs.

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The movie version

People always debate over whether the book was better than the movie and vice versa, but how often is it talked about what worked better, the television or the movie version? Well, in the case of P.I. we guess we’ll never know because despite all the rumors and attempts to take the show to the big screen later in the nineties, due to an ownership change, this was never realized and fans only got to see the small screen version.

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That Hawaiian shirt

Apart from the famous mustache, you could say that Magnum had a signature look and it was mainly his colorful collection of Hawaiian shirts that made him stand out. In fact, there was one famous in particular – the ‘Jungle Bird’ shirt which you can imagine looked everything jungle from parrots to banana leaves. The shirt was so famous that it was presented to the Smithsonian by the actor himself in 2011. We wonder if he ever changed shirts or did he use just one?

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They wore more than one hat

If you pay attention real closely and if you have time of course, you can notice that many of the series’ recurring cast members appeared on the show as different characters. These cast members include Gillian Dobb who played the role of Agatha Chumley, Kathleen Lloyd who played among others the role of Carol Baldwin, Jeff McKay and more actors who originally played a different character.

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They never really left

The producers must have done a really good job camouflaging the different international locations that the crew had ‘supposedly’ traveled to because out of all the global places that were portrayed on the show, the only time the cast and the show’s crew really left Hawaii and the set was in the episode named Déjà Vu in season six where they filmed in London. The audience might have thought that Magnum had traveled to Kenya and Japan, when he stayed in Hawaii.

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Ol’ Blue Eyes’ last performance

We all know that the legendary singer and performer was also a great actor, but did you know that Ol’ Blue Eyes made his final big appearance on the crime drama series, Magnum P.I.? The Voice himself played a retired New York cop turns to Magnum so he could help him look for the murderers who killed his granddaughter during his retirement festivities. The former Rat Pack member continued to have a prosperous career after his Magnum days were over.

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The voice of a writer

Besides the legendary singer, another famous leading man also made his unforgettable appearance on the show, well more accurately, he had a more of a hidden role. The never-seen owner of the beachfront house, Robin Masters, had his voice voiced by actor and writer, Orson Welles. Due to Orson’s death just three years before the show wrapped up, the producers had to change their plan for revealing Master’s identity.

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She was a natural

Sometimes experience has nothing to do with talent, and actress, Gillian Dobb, who played the kind and cultured Agatha Chumley on the show proved it better than anyone. Dobb was the most recurring character on the show with almost 30 appearances in different episodes. However, despite these impressive numbers, Gillian Dobb was the least experienced actress of all the cast members, as she never played in anything else before Magnum P.I.

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A different tune

This fact can really throw people off, especially if they are tight fans of the show. There is nothing more relatable than a theme song of a show, it’s the tune that gets you tuned in and involved in the upcoming episode. So to think that in the first 11 episodes the opening theme song was different is just shocking. In the beginning, the opening tune had a more jazzy feel to it. The theme tune that was later played was actually released as a single in the early eighties and even charted the Billboard Hot 100 at number 25.

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The Pine connection

The hunky 36 year old actor who was born just a year before the show started airing also has a connection to Magnum P.I. His father, actor Robert Pine who is mostly know for his role on NBC’s CHiPs, played Magnum’s on-screen dad in flashbacks. Pine’s son, Chris is one of Hollywood’s busiest actors today who definitely followed in his famous dad’s footsteps. Some of the young Pine’s films include, Star Trek, Rise of the Guardians, Into the Woods and more.

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Four-legged regulars

There were two other regulars on the show that were very dear to some of the cast members. In fact, these two unique characters had four legs and were quite furry. We’re talking about Zeus and Apollo, of course, who were featured as Higgins’ house guards. The two Dobermans were almost written-out of the show in season four, but Tom Selleck and John Hillerman made sure and fought really hard for them to stay. They eventually remained as part of the cast until the show ended in 1988.

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The grand finale

Finales are literally the peak of every television show but just like everything else in Hollywood, they can either go really well or just extremely bad. In the case of Magnum P.I., the final episode was apparently one the broke records. In fact, the episode which aired on May 1st, 1988, is until this day the 6th most-seen finale ever o television with over 50 million viewers. In the last episode named, ‘Resolutions’, Magnum rejoining the Navy.

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Angela’s big save

Of all people and actors, it was Angela Lansbury who came to the show’s rescue, at least in terms of ratings. During the seventh season, the show had to be moved to Wednesday nights, the same night that the soap opera hit, Dynasty was airing. In a bold and strategic move and in an attempt to raise the viewership, the producers had a crossover episode where they had one storyline crossover two shows, CBS’ hit series, Murder, She wrote, where Angela Lansbury was the star of and Magnum P.I.

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Aloha Magnum

One Magnum Star took it to the books, literally. Selleck’s co star, Larry Manetti wrote his autobiography/memoir named Aloha Magnum. Manetti played the role of Rock Wright, Magnum’s friend. The book pretty much sums up everything that has to do with the show filming in Hawaii.

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James Garner also helped

The reasons that can attract actors to take on roles on different shows vary from show to show and from their personal preferences. In the case of Magnum P.I. and Tom Selleck, one of the main reasons that the actor said yes to the role of Magnum was due to his experience acting alongside James Garner on The Rockford Files where Selleck once played the role of Lance White, a successful and charming private investigator. Apparently he loved the role so much that he wanted to relive his P.I. days.

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Close enough

You might not be able to afford 3-acre beachfront property in Honolulu where Robin Masters resided because it was sold for almost $9 million to Marty Nesbitt, a close friend of former U.S President, Barack Obama. However, you might be able to afford a vacation at this beachfront property which is located just a few steps away from the famous estate where the show was filmed. It could be your very own Magnum – Hawaiian vacation.

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Eva Longoria takes the lead

We’re not quite sure what happened to the idea, but not too long ago it was Desperate Housewives actress, Eva Longoria, who is also the owner of UnbeliEVAble Entertainment production company, who pitched the idea to have a Magnum P.I. make a comeback. The main idea was to give the show a little reboot treatment with having his on-screen daughter, Lily Magnum be the star of the new show after she is all grown up and taking after her father’s investigating work.

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The 90210 connection

Way before the successful teen drama from the nineties, Beverly Hills 90210, premiered, many members of its cast were naturally working on other projects. That was the case for actress, Katherine Cannon, who played the intimidating mother of Donna Martin (played by Tori Spelling). Cannon was part of an episode on Magnum PI in its first season, an episode named ‘Thank Heaven for Little Girls and Big Ones Too’.

The Spin-Off that never happened

Can you imagine how different Magnum PI would seem to its fans if there was a spin-off series to the already successful show? Well, the producers of Magnum PI almost went with their plan to launch a spin-off show that is based on the very first episode of the show, ‘J. Digger Doyle’. The plan was to have a show that centers around a security professional who worked close with Magnum, but the idea remained a written one and was never realized.

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Support system

It’s hard to think of Tom Selleck as ever a struggling actor trying to make ends meet, but the 72 year old actor actually needed his first wife, Jacqueline Ray, to whom he was married from 1971 to 1982, to support him while he was trying to land roles as an actor. The two split right before Selleck went off to film the show.

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Have a little faith

Actor, Roger Earl Mosley, who is best known for playing ‘T.C’ on Magnum P.I. initially didn’t even want to land the role of Magnum’s sidekick. In fact, when the pilot was filmed he didn’t think the show would be any good and he just wanted to make some money and go back to support his five children. We all know, including the 78 year old, that he couldn’t have been more wrong. Oh, and he has five children from four different women.

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Another crossover case

Actor Gerald McRaney who is best known for starring on Simon & Simon, actually auditioned for a role that was supposed to be part of the cast in pilot episode. However, things turned out quite differently for the actor and he went on to pursue other acting projects. He did later appear on the show as his Simon & Simon character in a special crossover episode.

The Female Sequel Series

The spin-off attempt may have been a complete fail but good news for lady lovers of the original series, everywhere – A female centric order from ABC has been put into development, with Eva Longoria as the show’s executive producer. The show will follow Thomas Magnum’s daughter, Lily, as she heads to Hawaii and takes over her father’s firm. Cool, huh?

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Buy Selleck’s Ferrari!

The Ferrari 308 driven by Selleck on Magnum PI was up for sale at an Arizona auction in early 2017. The asking price was $250,000 and comes with a certificate of authentication (you know, to prove that Tim Selleck used to drive it). It sold for $181,500.

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Larry Manetti’s Dark Past

Larry Manetti, or Orville “Rick” Wright as fans would call him, didn’t have the easiest childhood trauma to get past. When he was 11 years old, he was the target of a  child abduction and was rescued before it was too late. Today, he is the national spokesperson for an organization that finds missing children.

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The Beach Estate Sold For $15 Million

If you thought buying Selleck’s Ferrari was a cool opportunity (for anyone who could afford it), then you’ll think this is neat, too. The show’s famous beachfront estate, located in Oahu, went on the market in $15 million. It’s a huge property that was sold with a private lagoon, tennis court, and 5 bedrooms with 5 baths.

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Selleck Is A National Champion

Acting isn’t the only thing Tom Selleck excels at. The mustache icon spent his free time wisely while in Hawaii, joining up with the Hawaii Outrigger Canoe Club’s Senior Volleyball Team. During his time with the team, they won 2 national championships!

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Tom Selleck took a break from the show

Being an actor can have its perks but can definitely take a toll on many who don’t always have the ability or the energy to balance their career and their personal lives. Tom Selleck who spent most of his time on set, more than 90 hours a week to be exact, decided in a bold move, to take a break from the show after his second wife, Jillie, gave birth to their daughter, Hannah. That was the actor’s way of giving his family some quality time under a very hectic schedule.

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Hannah

It appears that the actor’s attempts at making time for his family worked out quite well. In fact, Selleck and his second wife, Jillie Mack, made sure that their daughter Hannah would have the most normal childhood possible away from the spotlights. The 28-year-old wasn’t raised on red carpets and her parents tried to provide her with an ethic work environment where she could pursue her real passions. Apart from her modeling stints, Hannah is a professional equestrian in New Mexico.

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