Tom Selleck has had a long and very successful career in show business. The Magnum, P. I and Blue Bloods star is still passionate about his work – the next season of the successful drama series will actually air soon.
Selleck has played many demanding roles over the years. But the 77-year-old has a history of performing his own stunts – a point which has unfortunately come back to haunt him.
Tom Selleck wasn’t sure that he wanted to be an actor growing up. Born January 29, 1945, in Detroit, Michigan, his family moved to California, where he grew up in the San Fernando Valley.
Selleck dreamt about enrolling at the University of Southern California (USC), but his family couldn’t afford the cost of tuition.
In 1962, he graduated from Grant High School. After enrolling at Los Angeles Valley College, he decided to live at home with his parents to save money.
In his early days, it seemed more likely that Tom was to have a career in athletics instead of acting. He was an up-and-coming basketball player and dreamt about going pro. With that in mind, one can only imagine how happy he was after being awarded a basketball scholarship at the University of Southern California.
“I never did school plays. I had no interest,” Tom told AARP in 2015.
But playing basketball at a high college level was easier said than done. As reported by KSL, he scored just four points in seven games for the USC Trojans during the 1965-1966 season. The year after that, he was scoreless in three games.
But in the end, Tom simply couldn’t compete with his bigger, taller teammates.
“I was pretty good, but I wasn’t good enough,” Selleck recalled.
In the back of his mind, Selleck understood that basketball probably wasn’t going to be his future career. However, he had a backup plan, and took a side job to help pay his tuition. The aspiring student first landed a couple of gigs in television commercials and appeared on The Dating Game.
Looking back, it wasn’t his proudest moment, but it would affect this future more than he ever could’ve imagined.
“Humiliating and embarrassing,” he recalled of being on the dating show. “I lost. Twice. I wasn’t particularly funny or glib.”
Shortly after, though, Selleck was offered a spot on 20th Century Fox’s talent program. He started crafting his skills, but after two years, he took leave to do six months of active duty.
Upon returning, Selleck was dropped. But instead of giving up, he was confident that he would make it as an actor.
In the early 1970s, he landed smaller parts in many television series. Then, approaching his mid-30s, Selleck starred in six television pilots. Despite that, his big breakthrough didn’t arrive.
According to Tom himself, that was why many thought he was an overnight success when he landed the role of Thomas Magnum in Magnum, P. I.
In reality, he had struggled and fought desperately hard.
“The luckiest thing that happened was that I didn’t get a real job until I was 35,” Selleck explained.
“When I was 25, I looked 35 but sounded 15. There are a lot of very good actors who make it as younger leading men but don’t graduate — because the audience won’t accept them as grown up.”
Magnum, P. I became a huge success. The crime drama television series aired between 1980 and 1988, and it brought Tom instant celebrity status. He was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series five years in a row – he finally won it in 1984.