As far as television actors go, not many can match Tom Selleck when it comes to popularity, public goodwill, and body of work. Yet, for all his recognizable traits and accomplishments, Tom is not a regular fixture on the big screen, where most actors who share similar status ply their trade.
It is a situation that has left a question mark for many observers and his fans. After all, conventional wisdom dictates that when you have great cards, you play it. However, as it turns out, the reason Tom Selleck is absent from the big screen is the same reason he is one of America’s most beloved men.
Why Tom Selleck is No More a Regular Presence on our Screens
Following his turn as Magnum in the 80s Magnum P.I series, Tom Selleck’s stock among American viewers had risen enough for him to become a mega film star. Even before he started starring in the role, he had been cast as Indiana Jones in the blockbuster franchise, before a scheduling conflict caused the part to go to Harrison Ford.
Yet, the world was still at his feet, especially after he completed a career-defining role as Thomas Magnum. But rather than take advantage, Tom retreated to a 60-acre ranch in Ventura County, California. According to him, he decided because he did not enjoy life in the spotlight.
A significantly private individual, Tom appreciated his ability to maintain a work-life balance and consequently refused to give it up. As a result, he had a limited presence on the big screen. His decision was further aided by the fact none of the many scripts and roles offered to him enticed him enough to make him renege on his decision.
However, that is not to say he retired from Hollywood. He stuck to a quiet life as a small screen actor, appearing primarily in TV shows and TV movies. He famously made a series of appearances as Dr. Richard Burke in Friends between 1996 and 2000 and has been appearing in the TV movie series, Jesse Stone, since 2005.
Notably, since 2010, he has been playing Police Commissioner, Frank Reagan, in the CBS police procedural, Blue Bloods. When he is not shooting episodes for show or the TV movie, he spends his time working and living with his family on his California ranch.
Blue Bloods and Magnum P.I Remains His Most Iconic Works
Tom Selleck made his first on-screen appearance on The Dating Game in 1965 while he was still in college. Soon after, he featured in Pepsi-Cola commercials. Selleck later followed it up by playing minor roles in movies like; Myra Breckinridge and The seven minutes. During this time, he also starred in a good number of mini-series, TV series, and TV movies.
Selleck got his first significant hit as an actor when he got cast to play the leading role of Thomas Magnum in Magnum P.I in 1980. He played the role for eight seasons and across 163 episodes, ending his time as the character in 1988. Beyond its storytelling, the show remained popular while it was on air for Tom’s character design.
As Thomas Magnum, Tom Selleck’s moustache was a massive favourite. So were his Hawaiian fashion style and connection to America’s favourite sport, with his Detroit Tigers baseball cap. The show also captured the attention of car enthusiasts with Tom’s Ferrari 308 GTS car. It was so popular that the car and Tom that the model is now commonly referred to as the Magnum Ferrari.
After exiting Magnum P.I, Tom Selleck found extended fame in Blue Bloods, when he began playing Frank Reagan in the drama series. Its portrayal of a family, headed by Selleck’s character, with individual professions that represent different aspects of the legal process, has made it a must-watch for millions of Americans.
Its Sunday dinner scenes, where every member of the family shares a meal in every episode, has also helped solidify the show’s place in American hearts. Tom Selleck’s beloved status among American viewers has also helped place it among top-rated television shows. So far, the veteran actor has appeared in all 218+ episodes of the show.
Tom Selleck Has Appeared in More Than 80 Movies and TV Shows
While Blue Bloods and Magnum P.I might be the two works most people think of when they hear Tom Selleck’s name, there are by far not his only ones. His filmography includes more than 80 credits, with works across the big and small screen, all with varying degrees of success.
After leaving Magnum P.I, he went on to appear in films like Terminal Island, Three Men and a Baby, Divorce Wars: A Love Story, High Road to China, Three Men and Little Lady, Meet The Robinsons, and others. For TV series, he appeared in Sarge, The FBI, The Rockford Files, Concrete Boys, Friends, and Las Vegas.
Since 2005, he has been playing Jesse Stone in the Jesse Stone TV Movie series and has appeared in ten of them thus far. His career, which has spanned more than five decades, has earned him several awards and nominations. His wins include a People’s Choice Award, a Primetime Emmy Award, and a Golden Globe Award.
He also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which he received in 1986 for his role and impact of his work on Magnum P.I.
He Has Been Married for More Than Three Decades
One might say Tom Selleck’s appreciation and insistence on a balanced work-life came from lessons learned from his first marriage. About six years into his acting career, he married the model, Jacqueline Ray, in 1971. The marriage lasted ten years, during which he adopted her son from a previous relationship, Kevin Shephard.
Jacqueline was a model who worked in the industry in the 60s, before transitioning to acting. She appeared in a few movies and TV shows between the late 60s and late 00s. Some of them include Dallas, The New Mike Hammer, and Beyond the Universe.
According to several reports and rumors at the time, the two of them supposedly parted ways in 1982, over increasing female attention towards Tom, whose fame was on the rise. Five years after their divorce, he married Jillie Joan Mack. He met her after watching her perform as Rumpleteazer in the play Cats in London, where he was filming Lassiter.
Over multiple visits to watch the play, they struck a conversation, and then a dinner date, and soon, a romance ensued. After Jillie’s run on the show ended, she moved to Hawaii, where Tom was filming Magnum P.I. Eventually, after years of being a regular fixture on his arm at major events, the two of them wedded in a secret ceremony in 1987.
They got married on August 7 in Lake Tahoe, Nevada. Since they got married, they have remained together, giving birth to only one child, Hannah Margaret Selleck. She was born a year after their wedding on December 16, 1988.
Although she practically retreated from acting following their relationship and marriage, Jillie Mack continued on-screen appearance until 2002. She has 12 credits to her name, including TV movies and shows like Frasier, Hooperman, Fired Up, and The Wizard.
His Son Followed in His Hollywood Footsteps
As someone who had little interest in fame, Tom Selleck was very welcoming of his children’s decision to pursue a life of their choosing. Only his son, Kevin Shephard, born in 1966, remotely took up life in Hollywood. In 1993, he and four other men formed the rock band, Tonic.
He played the drums and was part of the band’s breakout success via its debut album, Lemon Parade, in 1996. Singles from the band like If You Could Only See, Soldier’s Daughter, and Open Your Eyes, charted on the Billboard chart. As for the album itself, it sold more than one million copies and was certified platinum.
Unfortunately, success did not deepen the band’s bond, and after a big argument, Kevin Selleck left the group. There were speculations that his exit was part of a series of drug-related issues he battled earlier in his life. Before joining the band, he had spent time at the Betty Ford Rehabilitation Center for addiction.
His sister, Hannah, on the other hand, has had a quieter life living outside of the industry’s influence. She is an equestrian who developed a huge love for animals, having grown up on a ranch. Hannah began her training at the Foxfield Riding School in Westlake Village, starting her amateur career at the age of 16.
Since she began competing, she has won several medals, including the 2008 North American Junior and Young Rider Championships. She is also a college graduate with a degree in communications from Loyola Marymount University. With her degree, Hannah Selleck worked as an intern at a PR firm in Beverly Hills before transitioning to a full professional life working with horses.
Hannah Owns a Horse Breeding and Training Business
With help from her parents, Hannah established Descanso Farm, a business that breeds and trains horses for sport. She started the company after a brief period of working as an assistant trainer for her former coach, Karen Healey. The California based business model spans New Mexico and Wyoming.
Although she is now a businesswoman, she still competes as an equestrian. Now old enough and with experience to compete at the highest level, Tom Selleck’s daughter is a world-class rider and a regular fixture at Grand Prix races. She has also appeared on the covers of Equestrian Living, Sidelines, and Palm Beach Illustrated.