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Thomas William "Tom" Selleck (born January 29, 1945) is an Americamarker actor, screenwriter and film producer, perhaps best known for his starring role on the television show Magnum, P.I.. He has appeared extensively in television series roles, including as Dr. Richard Burke in Friends and A.J. Cooper in 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, and Lassiter. His most recent work is in the film Five Killers, along with Katherine Heigl and Ashton Kutcher.

Early life

Selleck was born in Detroitmarker, Michiganmarker, the son of Martha S. (née Jagger), a homemaker, and Robert D. Selleck, an executive and real estate investor. The family moved to Sherman Oaksmarker when Selleck was growing up. His siblings include brothers Robert (born 1944) and Daniel (born 1950), and sister Martha. Selleck graduated from Grant High Schoolmarker in 1962.

Along with modeling, Selleck attended the University of Southern Californiamarker on a basketball scholarship where he played for the Trojans. He is a member of Sigma Chi fraternity and 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 career

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, after years of little interest, was cast as Thomas Magnum in Magnum, P.I. and as Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark in the same year. Magnum, P.I. producers would not release the actor and he had to pass on the film role, which then went to Harrison Ford. The decision of choosing the role of Indiana Jones vs. Magnum actually haunted him so much that before making the decision, he consulted his best friend on what to do. Together they came to the conclusion that honoring the contract with Universal Studios was the honorable thing to do. It turned out that the shooting of the pilot for Magnum was delayed for over six months, which would have enabled him to complete the role as Indiana Jones. Coincidentally, while Selleck was waiting in Hawaiimarker for Magnum, P.I. to commence, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas were in Hawaii as well to shoot scenes for Raiders of the Lost Ark. Selleck later went on to star in High Road to China, one of the many adventure films inspired by the success of Raiders that emerged in the early to mid-1980s.

Movie stardom

He starred in the 1979 TV movie Concrete 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, 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 Californiamarker 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 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 of the western, often playing one of that genre's typical characters but thrust into a modern context.

Surprising many of his fans, Selleck unexpectedly played the role of General Dwight D. Eisenhower in the History Channel's 2004 made-for-TV movie Ike: Countdown to D-Day. The movie showed the planning, politics, and preparation for the 1944 Invasion of Normandymarker, 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.

Magnum P.I.

Selleck played the role of 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 308 GTS.

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.

The Closer

In 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 cancelled after 10 episodes.

Western roles

Selleck became extremely popular with fans when portraying 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.


Selleck played the recurring role of Dr. Richard Burke on Friends, a love interest to the character of Monica Geller (Courteney Cox). Richard Burke is an ophthalmologist who is 21 years older than Monica and close friends with her parents. Monica and Richard have a very close and deep relationship until Monica discovers that Richard is not willing to have more children, when the two break up. However, later on, he returns, telling Monica he still loves her and would do anything to be with her, all the while knowing she was in a serious relationship with Chandler Bing (Matthew Perry). Monica later chooses Chandler over Richard. Richard Burke appears in Seasons 2, 3 and 6 of Friends and is referred to often throughout the series. The role helped revitalize Selleck's career, garnering him a 2000 Emmy Award nomination for "Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series". Friends producers apparently had to stop having live audiences on the set, as the audience became too excitable when Selleck was appearing.

Las Vegas and upcoming movies

He 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 his first regular role on a drama show since he played Thomas Magnum on Magnum, P.I.

Awards and accolades

On April 28, 2000, he received an honorary doctorate from Pepperdine Universitymarker. He was chosen because of his outstanding character and ethic. He is a board member of the non-profit Joseph and Edna Josephson Institute of Ethics and co-founder of the Character Counts Coalition. Selleck received a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Famemarker in 1986. The star is situated at 6925 Hollywood Blvd.

  • Golden Apple Awards - 1982 Male Star of the year
  • Golden Apple Awards - 1983 Male Star of the year
  • People Choice's Award - 1984 Favourite Male TV Performer
  • 36th Primetime Emmy Awards (1984) - Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
  • People Choice's Award - 1985 Favourite Male TV Performer
  • People Choice's Award - 1985 Favourite All-Round Male Entertainer
  • 42nd Golden Globe Awards (1985) - Best Performance by an Actor in a TV-Series-Drama

In 1993, during the brief run of the late night The Chevy Chase Show on Fox, Selleck guest-starred. As a gag, he asked to be presented his 1992 Worst Supporting Actor Razzie award for his performance as King Ferdinand of Spain in Christopher Columbus: The Discovery. When the Razzie was presented to him on the air, Selleck took it in stride and asked the entire studio audience to "blow me a raspberry." Thus Selleck became the third person in Razzie history to voluntarily accept one of the Worst Achievements in Film statuettes. In the United Kingdom fishing village of Brixhammarker Devon, a residential street is named after the star.

Personal life

Selleck was married to model Jacqueline Ray from 1970–1982 from which he adopted her son, Kevin (born 1966), from a previous marriage. He dated actress Mimi Rogers for a short time in the early 1980s.

Selleck married Jillie Mack August 7, 1987. They have one daughter, Hannah Margaret Mack Selleck (born December 16, 1988). The family lives in Freedom, Californiamarker and Thousand Oaks, Californiamarker. He has summer residences in Jonesboro, Mainemarker, United Statesmarker alongside a recent acquisition in the northern regions of Shetland Islesmarker.

Selleck lives on a 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." In 2006, Tom Selleck alongside Richard Rowley started their own charity that promotes reading literature to the deaf children of California.


To promote his movie The Love Letter, Selleck was invited to be on The Rosie O'Donnell Show on May 19, 1999. However, he found himself defending an ad in which he appeared supporting the National Rifle Associationmarker (NRA) and his position on gun ownership. Selleck said: "It's your show, and you can talk about it after I leave." O'Donnell was highly criticized, which led her to make an apology to Selleck by saying: "For him feeling embarrassed and humiliated by me, I strongly do apologize to him personally, but I do not apologize for my feelings about the issue of gun control."

Selleck is a member of the Board of Directors of the NRA. After close friend Charlton Heston stepped down as head of the NRA in 2003, he was considered to succeed him. In 2002 Selleck donated the rifle he used in Quigley Down Under (a custom 13-pound [6 kg], single-shot rifle, 1874 Sharps Rifle, with a 34-inch [86-cm] barrel.), along with six other firearms from his other films, to the National Rifle Associationmarker, as part of the NRA's exhibit "Real Guns of Reel Heroes" at the National Firearms Museum in Fairfax, Virginiamarker.

For a number of years Selleck appeared in television advertising for William F. Buckley's magazine The National Review (he also subscribes to The New Republic).

Selleck describes himself politically as "a registered independent with a lot of libertarian leanings." He also endorsed John McCain during the 2008 US Presidential Election.

In February 2009, Selleck joined the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund as national spokesman for the new Education Center being built on the National Mallmarker.

Horse ownership and subsequent lawsuit

Selleck bought a horse for $120,000 but it had a medical condition making the horse unsuited for competition. The seller, Delores Cuenca, contended that Selleck did not check the vet records. Selleck was awarded $187,000.


Year Title Role Notes
1970 Myra Breckinridge
1971 The Seven Minutes
1972 Daughters of Satan James Robertson
1973 Sons of God
1973 Shadow of Fear
1973 Terminal Islandmarker
1976 Midway
1977 The Washington Affair
1978 Coma
1979 The Sacketts
1983 High Road to China
1984 Lassiter
1984 Runaway
1987 Three Men and a Baby
1989 Her Alibi
1989 An Innocent Man
1990 Quigley Down Under
1990 Three Men and a Little Lady
1992 Folks!
1992 Christopher Columbus: The Discovery
1992 Mr. Baseball
1996 The Magic of Flight Short Subject / Narrator
1995 Open Season
1996 Kids for Character Direct to Video / Host
1997 In & Out
1999 The Love Letter
2000 Running Mates
2004 Monte Walsh
2007 Meet the Robinsons Cornelius Robinson Voice
2009 Five Killers Unknown


He did the voice over for the 1993 AT&T ad campaigns titled "You Will." These ads 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).

Television work (includes made-for-TV movies)

Year Title 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
1976 Most Wanted
1977 Bunco
1978 Superdome
1978 The Gypsy Warriors
1978 - 1979 The Rockford Files Two appearances as PI Lance White
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.
1982 Divorce Wars: A Love Story
1982 The Shadow Riders
1986 Murder, She Wrote
1995 Broken Trust
1996 Ruby Jean and Joe Also Executive Producer
1996 Friends Recurring Role as Richard
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
2005 - 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
2006 Boston Legal Recurring Role
2007 Las Vegas Cast member from 2007–2008


  1. Tom Selleck Plays `Ike` In WW II Movie; Springfield Sings Of The Pain Of Love; Extreme Home Makeovers For Deserving Families, CNN
  2. Tom Selleck Biography (1945-)
  3. California businessman, father of ‘Magnum P.I.’ star dies at 79
  4. Tom Selleck Biography - Yahoo! Movies
  5. Jason Williams' injury a big topic at U.S. Open
  6. Tom Selleck
  8. Selleck Wants Back in the Magnum Driver's Seat(4 March 2009)From -
  10. 6925 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California 90028, United States - Google Maps
  11. Jillie Mack: Summary -
  12. Biography Tom Selleck (Thomas Magnum - Magnum P.I.)
  14. Young Selleck blazes own trail Calgary Herald, Saturday, June 28, 2003 - Irish Sporthorses in the news
  15. Tom Selleck - News. -IMDb.
  16. "Tom Selleck Donates Seven Guns To NRA National Firearms Museum". - National Rifle Association.
  17. Sherrod, Blackie. - "Is it all politics or show biz?". - The Dallas Morning News. - October 31, 2002. | - Schodolski, Vincent J. - " Sean Penn is no Jane Fonda - In Iraq, he kept mouth wide shut". - Chicago Tribune. - January 5, 2003.
  18. Sharp, Eric. - "Shooting Star - Antique Black-Powder Rifle Still Scene-Stealer". - Detroit Free Press. - June 18, 2006.
  19. Lacher, Irene. - "Right Revival In Hollywood". - Chicago Sun-Times. - October 9, 1994.
  20. Winter, Bill. - "Tom Selleck - Libertarian". - Advocates for Self-Government.
  21. Kevin Bouffard. "Citrus ads to feature Selleck's narration: Florida agency approves a new slate of TV commercials," The Ledger, December 20, 2007.

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