For many people, the name Tom Selleck still conjures up images of palm trees, Hawaiian shirts, and that bright red Ferrari. So they may be surprised to learn that his current show Blue Bloods has lasted even longer than Magnum PI. The veteran actor has had several notable roles throughout his career. Keep reading to learn more about Selleck’s life and career.
The ‘Magnum’ years
After Magnum PI came along, Selleck, now 74, was almost as famous for a role he didn’t get as he was for the Magnum role. Steven Spielberg and George Lucas were ready to hand Selleck Indiana Jones’ fedora and bullwhip for Raiders of the Lost Ark. However, Selleck couldn’t get out of his Magnum contract, so Selleck exited and Harrison Ford entered. Selleck wasn’t bitter, though.
In a 2018 interview, he said: “Look, I made a deal with Magnum and it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I’m proud that I lived up to my contract, and some people said, ‘You’ve got to get into a car and drive into a brick wall and get injured and get out of Magnum and do this [Raiders].’ I said ‘I gotta look my mom and dad in the eye, and we don’t do that,’ so I did Magnum…that’s not so bad is it?”
Indeed not. Magnum became a giant hit and Selleck’s calling card. The series ran from 1980 to 1988, and he won an Emmy in 1984. Like his CBS colleague Larry Hagman on Dallas, his character was shot in a big cliffhanger, though “Who shot Magnum” never quite hit the zeitgeist like “Who shot JR?” And Selleck also saw his show get the reboot with a new series last year on CBS.
He begged off a role on the new show, though, telling Parade magazine: “CBS was nice enough to include me in a meeting. They said, ‘We won’t do this if you really have a problem with it.’ I said, “I did my own show and I’m very proud of it. I wish you well.'”
Tom Selleck’s career before ‘Magnum’
Selleck tried his hand at the big screen, but movie stardom seemed to elude him after a string of forgettable films like High Road to China and Lassiter. However, he scored the biggest hit of 1987 with Three Men and a Baby.
Through all the ups and downs, Selleck has worked steadily, entering the zeitgeist again in the 90s when he had a recurring role on Friends as Monica’s boyfriend. Other prominent TV gigs included the Jesse Stone series and a role on Las Vegas.
In an interview with the New York Daily News in 1999, Selleck said: “I’ve tried very hard to conduct myself in an ethical way because that’s important to my stability now.”
‘Blue Bloods’ makes its mark
Selleck wasn’t looking to star in a new crime show, but that new crime show ended up finding him. What drew him to Blue Bloods and the role of Police Commissioner Frank Reagan was the script.
“I wasn’t really looking for a series. I was concerned that I liked it because I do a series of movies for CBS called Jesse Stone. I love that character and it’s really successful. So the first thing I said when I went in was, “I’m not doing this at the expense of Jesse Stone,” and they said, “We don’t want you to. Jesse is a home run for us.” So that was nice,” he told Metro World News.
And it was nice for CBS too, because Blue Bloods has now run for almost nine years, which is longer than the original Magnum PI was on the air. Despite Blue Bloods‘ longevity, Selleck knows full well that Magnum will forever be his main claim to fame. That’s OK by him.
“I have never minded talking about that show. If I did my job right as an actor, when I left Magnum, it was my main credit. I have done westerns. I’ve done comedies, and people are aware that I have broader appetites than they might suspect, but Magnum will always be a big part,” he said.