Thomas Magnum on the 1980s television show Magnum, P.I.. He also plays Jesse Stone in a series of made-for-TV movies based on the Robert B. Parker novels. In 2010, he appears as Commissioner Frank Reagan in the drama Blue Bloods on CBS.
He has appeared extensively on television in roles such as Dr. Richard Burke on Friends and A.J. Cooper on Las Vegas. In addition to his series work, Selleck has appeared in more than fifty made for TV and general release movies, including Mr. Baseball, Quigley Down Under, Lassiter and his most successful movie release Three Men and a Baby, which was the highest grossing movie in 1987.
Early lifeSelleck was born in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Martha S. (née Jagger), a homemaker, and Robert D. Selleck, an executive and real estate investor. The family moved to Sherman Oaks, Los Angeles, California, when Selleck was growing up. His siblings include brothers Robert (born 1944) and Daniel (born 1950), and sister Martha. Selleck graduated from Grant High School in 1962.
Along with modeling, Selleck attended the University of Southern California on a basketball scholarship where he played for the Trojans. He is a member of Sigma Chi fraternityand a member of the Trojan Knights. While he majored in business administration, a drama coach suggested Selleck try acting. He then studied acting at the Beverly Hills Playhouse, under Milton Katselas.
Selleck served in the 160th Infantry of the California Army National Guard and was activated for the Watts Riots.
Early work and Magnum P.I.Selleck's first TV appearance was as a college senior on The Dating Game in 1965 and again in 1967 – he lost both times. Soon after, he appeared in commercials for products such as Pepsi-Cola.
He began his career with bit parts in smaller movies, including the over-the-top Myra Breckinridge and Russ Meyer's The Seven Minutes with co-stars including Wayne Maunder and Harold J. Stone. He also appeared in number of TV series, mini-series and TV movies. Selleck also had a recurring role in the 1970s as Lance White in The Rockford Files. Lance was very trusting and always lucky, much to the annoyance of Jim Rockford, the show's star private eye played by James Garner. White would frequently say to Rockford, "Don't worry Jim, clues will turn up" and then a clue would just turn up, much to Rockford's consternation, for whom obtaining clues required hard work and hard knocks. Selleck's character was based on one played in Garner's earlier TV series Maverick (1957) by Wayde Preston in that series' highest-rated episode, "The Saga of Waco Williams."
Selleck, an accessible but relatively untested actor, spent years receiving little interest from the entertainment industry. His big break came when he was cast – to the surprise of all – in the lead role as Thomas Magnum in Magnum, P.I.. The Magnum, P.I. producers would not release the actor for other projects, and, thus, Selleck had to pass on the equally enticing film project for the title role of Indiana Jones, which then went to rising star Harrison Ford. The career-influencing choice between the role of Indiana Jones vs. Magnum P.I. actually haunted Selleck so much that before making the decision, he consulted his best friend on what to do. Together they came to the conclusion that taking the high road and honoring the first contract with Universal Studios was the career-savvy direction. It turned out that the shooting of the pilot for Magnum was delayed for over six months (due to a writers' strike) which would have enabled him to complete the role as Indiana Jones, if he had had the option to do so.
FilmConcrete Cowboy with Jerry Reed. Selleck starred in a number of film roles during and after Magnum; among the most notable were as an acrophobic police detective in Runaway, as a stand-in father in Three Men and a Baby, and as an American cowboy in the Australian western Quigley Down Under – a role and film that he considers one of his best. His other films include Three Men and a Little Lady, High Road to China, Lassiter, Coma,Her Alibi, An Innocent Man, Folks!, Christopher Columbus: The Discovery, Mr. Baseball, In & Out and The Love Letter.
In the early 1990s, Selleck held a press conference to say that he was not gay after a Queer Nation poster allegedly tried to out him. He also sued a tabloid for printing a story that he was gay, which later was settled with an apology and a financial sum that Selleck donated to the University of Southern California journalism program to promote ethics in media. He insisted that he was not anti-gay, however, saying "I would have had the same problem, felt the same kind of righteous indignation, if somebody had said I was having an affair with some actress I had never met," and would later portray an openly gay character in In & Out with Kevin Kline.
Selleck is an avid outdoorsman, and a marksman and knowledgeable firearms collector. These interests led him to leading man cowboy roles in Western films, starting with his role as Orrin Sackett in the 1979 film The Sacketts, opposite Sam Elliott, Jeff Osterhage, and Western legends Glenn Ford and Ben Johnson. He was easily accepted playing a cowboy, and the roles seemed to "fit" him. He followed The Sacketts with The Shadow Riders in 1982, then with Lassiter in 1984. Quigley Down Under is probably one of his best known Western films, however he also won a "Western Heritage Award" for his 1997 role in Last Stand at Sabre River. His last two cowboy roles to date were in the 2001 TNT movie Crossfire Trail (based on a Louis L'Amour novel of the same name), and the 2003 motion picture Monte Walsh.
He most recently appeared in the film Killers, along with Katherine Heigl and Ashton Kutcher.
Magnum P.I.Thomas Magnum in 1980 after six failed TV pilots. The show would go on for eight seasons and 162 episodes until 1988, winning him an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series in 1984. Selleck was famous for his moustache, a Hawaiian-style aloha shirt, and Detroit Tigers baseball cap. Magnum drove a Ferrari 308GTSi in the series. The model became so identified with the role that Ferrari fans now refer to the red-painted model as a "Magnum" Ferrari.
Selleck has confirmed that he is the most popular choice by fans to play the role of Magnum in the rumoured upcoming Magnum P.I. movie.
FriendsThroughout the late nineties, Selleck played the role of Richard, Monica's boyfriend, in the hugely successful TV series Friends. Richard was a physician who was a friend of Monica's parents, and at first the relationship was hidden from her parents. The relationship eventually ended over Richard's reluctance to commit to raising a family, though Selleck did make a few extra appearances in later shows.
The CloserIn February 1998, Selleck accepted the lead role in a sitcom for CBS called The Closer. In it he played Jack McLaren, a legendary publicist heading up a brand new marketing firm. His costars included Ed Asner, David Krumholtz, and Penelope Ann Miller. Despite the high pedigree, and the expectations for his first series since Magnum, P. I., low ratings caused the show to be canceled after ten episodes.
Jesse Stone seriesSince 2005, Selleck has starred in the role of transplanted lawman Jesse Stone in a series of made-for-TV movies based on Robert B. Parker's novels. To date, the series comprises seven films, with a seventh released on May 22, 2011. In addition to his portrayal of the films' protagonist, Selleck also acts as producer for the series. The fifth film, Jesse Stone: Thin Ice, was not adapted from Parker's novels, but rather an original story by Selleck.
Las VegasHe joined the cast of the NBC drama Las Vegas in the season-five premiere on September 28, 2007. He played A.J. Cooper, the new owner of the Montecito Casino. He replaced James Caan who left the cast in the same episode. This is Selleck's first regular role on a drama show since he played Thomas Magnum on Magnum, P.I..
Blue BloodsBlue Bloods is an American police procedural/drama series on CBS, filmed on location in New York City. Frank Reagan (Selleck) is the Police Commissioner; the series follows the Reagan family of police officers with the New York City Police Department. The show premiered on September 24, 2010.
Other workSelleck has also appeared in a number of made-for-TV movies in recent years. In particular, he has sought to help bring back to popularity the western, often playing one of that genre's typical characters but thrust into a modern context.
Selleck was offered the lead role of Mitch Buchannon in Baywatch but turned down the role because he did not want to be seen as a sex symbol. The role eventually went to David Hasselhoff.
Surprising many of his fans, Selleck unexpectedly played the role of General Dwight D. Eisenhower in A&E's 2004 made-for-TV movie Ike: Countdown to D-Day. The movie showed the planning, politics, and preparation for the 1944 Invasion of Normandy, and Selleck was critically lauded for playing a cool, calm Eisenhower.
Most recently, Selleck has appeared in a recurring role on the acclaimed ABC drama Boston Legal as Ivan Tiggs – the troubled ex-husband of Shirley Schmidt (Candice Bergen) – and as novelist Robert B. Parker's character Jesse Stone in several CBS made-for-TV movies, earning a 2007 Emmy nomination for Jesse Stone: Sea Change.
BroadwayIn 2001, Selleck played the lead role of Murray in a Broadway revival of Herb Gardner's comedic play A Thousand Clowns. It ran for only two months. Critics, though far from uniformly negative about Selleck's performance, generally compared it unfavorably to that of Jason Robards, Jr., who won awards in the 1960s for playing the character on the stage and in a movie version. (It remains the role with which Robards is most identified.) Playwright Gardner, however, actually preferred Selleck to Robards in the part, and even said that Selleck was the way he had always envisioned Murray.
CommercialsHe did the voice over for the 1993 AT&T advertising campaigns titled "You Will." These advertisements had a futuristic feel, and posed the question of, "What if you had the technology to ______ ? Well, you will ... and the company that will bring it to you? AT&T." As of December 30, 2007, he began doing commercial voice-overs for Florida orange juice, a move that one writer quipped would have a "magnum" impact on sales (referring to the actor's role in Magnum, P.I).
The Practical Guide to the UniverseIn the mid 1990's, Selleck hosted a special series on TLC called "The Practical Guide to the Universe", in which he talked about the stars, planets, galaxies, and other things in the universe.
Personal lifeSelleck was married to model Jacqueline Ray from 1970–1982, a marriage during which he adopted her son, Kevin (born 1966), from a previous marriage.
On August 7, 1987, Selleck married Jillie Mack. They have one daughter, Hannah Margaret Mack Selleck (born December 16, 1988). The family lives in Freedom, California, and Thousand Oaks, California. Selleck has a summer residence in Jonesboro, Maine, United States. In the 1980s – specifically around the time of filming Three Men and a Baby – Selleck owned a home on upscale Lakeshore Road in Burlington, Ontario, a suburb southwest of Toronto.
Selleck lives on an avocado ranch. The following quote is from a Good Housekeeping interview titled "Man of the House: Tom Selleck", "So I like to get outside and work on the farm, from fixing roads to clearing brush. I hate going to the gym, so sweating outdoors sure beats sitting on a stationary bike staring at my navel. And I work cheaper than anyone I could hire to do it."
Selleck is an avid ice hockey fan and has been seen attending Los Angeles Kings games at the Staples Center. He lists Anze Kopitar and Alexander Frolov as two of his favorite players. He was once a minority owner of his favorite baseball team since childhood, the Detroit Tigers.
One of Selleck's Magnum co-stars, Larry Manetti, in his 1996 memoir Aloha Magnum, was lavish in his praise of Selleck. Manetti lauded Selleck for his extraordinary work ethic on a grueling show (shooting for hours in the midday Hawaiian sun), Selleck's work with Hawaiian charities and his willingness to go to bat for the program's cast and crew members.
In February 2009, Selleck joined the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund as national spokesman for the new Education Center being built on the National Mall.
Year Film Role Notes
1970 Myra Breckinridge
1971 The Seven Minutes
1972 Daughters of Satan James Robertson
1973 Sons of God
Shadow of Fear Mark Brolin
Terminal Island Dr. Milford
1976 Midway Aide to Capt. Cyril Simard
1977 The Washington Affair Jim Hawley
1978 Coma Sean Murphy
1979 The Sacketts Orrin Sackett
1983 High Road to China Patrick O' Malley Lead Role
1984 Lassiter Nick Lassiter Lead Role
Runaway Sgt. Jack R. Ramsay Lead Role
1987 Three Men and a Baby Peter Mitchell Lead Role
1989 Her Alibi Phil Blackwood Lead Role
An Innocent Man Jimmie Rainwood Lead Role
1990 Quigley Down Under Matthew Quigley Lead Role
Three Men and a Little Lady Peter Mitchell Lead Role
1992 Folks! Jon Aldrich Lead Role
Christopher Columbus: The Discovery King Ferdinand Supporting Role
Mr. Baseball Jack Elliot Lead Role
1995 Open Season Rock Maninoff
1996 The Magic of Flight Short Subject / Narrator
Kids for Character Direct to Video / Narrator
1997 In & Out Peter Malloy Supporting Role
1999 The Love Letter George Matthias Supporting Role
2001 Crossfire Trail Rafael "Rafe" Covington TV Movie
2000 Running Mates Gov. James Reynolds Pryce TV Movie
2004 Monte Walsh Monte Walsh TV Movie
2007 Meet the Robinsons Cornelius Robinson Voice
2010 Killers Mr. Kornfeldt Supporting Role
2012 Three men and a Bride (In development) Peter Mitchell Lead Role
Year Title Role Notes
1970 The Movie Murderer
1974 A Case of Rape
1974–1975 The Young and the Restless Cast member from 1974–1975 & 2005
1975 Returning Home
1975 The Streets Of San Francisco - Spooks For Sale
1976 Most Wanted
1978 The Gypsy Warriors
1978–1979 The Rockford Files PI Lance White Two appearances
1979 The Chinese Typewriter
1979 The Sacketts
1979 The Concrete Cowboys Cowboy
1980 Stone Ninjas Ninja
1981 Pirates of Rock Pirate
1980–1988 Magnum, P.I. Thomas Magnum
1982 Divorce Wars: A Love Story
1982 The Shadow Riders
1986 Murder, She Wrote Magnum crossover
1995 Broken Trust
1996 Ruby Jean and Joe Also Executive Producer
1996 Friends Richard Recurring role
1997 Last Stand at Saber River Also Executive Producer
1998 The Closer
2000 Running Mates
2001 Crossfire Trail Also Executive Producer
2003 Monte Walsh Also Executive Producer
2003 Twelve Mile Road
2004 Reversible Errors
2004 Ike: Countdown to D-Day Gen. Dwight D Eisenhower
2005–2011 Jesse Stone series Jesse Stone TV movies / Also Executive Producer & Producer
2005: Stone Cold
2006: Jesse Stone: Night Passage
2006: Jesse Stone: Death in Paradise
2007: Jesse Stone: Sea Change
2009: Jesse Stone: Thin Ice
2010: Jesse Stone: No Remorse
2011: Jesse Stone: Innocents Lost
2006 Boston Legal Ivan Tiggs Recurring role
2007–2008 Las Vegas A.J. Cooper Cast member from 2007–2008
2010– Blue Bloods (TV series) Police Commissioner Frank Reagan