Many Tom Selleck fans know him best from his ’80s TV hit “Magnum P.I.” Others may know him best as Monica’s boyfriend, Dr. Richard Burke, on “Friends,” as Peter Mitchell from the 1987 hit film “Three Men and a Baby” or, more recently, as Police Commissioner Frank Reagan on the TV series “Blue Bloods.”
Throughout his long career in show business, the actor has had his share of ups and downs but has managed to stay out of the tabloid magazines and remain devoted to his family. Here are some fun facts you may not know about this Hollywood legend.
He Dropped Out Of College To Pursue Acting
Selleck was born in Detroit but grew up in Southern California. While attending the University of Southern California, Selleck belonged to the Sigma Chi fraternity and also worked as a male model to pay the bills. However, he ended up dropping out in order to pursue an acting career. He signed a contract with 20th Century Fox just three credits shorts of a business degree.
He’s A Veteran
From 1967 to 1973, Selleck served in the California Army National Guard. He was a sergeant in California’s 160th infantry regiment. Later, the actor appeared on recruiting posters for the California National Guard.
He Was A Contestant On ‘The Dating Game’
One of Tom Selleck’s first TV appearances was as a contestant on the game show “The Dating Game” in 1965. He appeared again in 1967, losing both times. Perhaps it was because he wasn’t sporting his lucky mustache!
His Mustache Has A Major Presence
When you think of Selleck, chances are you think about the actor’s most defining feature. His famous mustache even has its own Facebook page, where it is listed as a “Public Figure” and has more than 40,000 followers. As you probably figured, without his mustache, Selleck is almost unrecognizable!
He Has Been Married Twice
His first marriage to model and actress Jacqueline Ray ended in 1982, after 10 years. During the marriage, Selleck adopted Ray’s son, Kevin, from a previous relationship.
He Was A Struggling Actor Until His Mid-30s
Tom Selleck was 35 when he got his big break. As the star of “Magnum P.I.,” a crime drama about a private investigator living in Hawaii, Selleck was thrust into the spotlight. Before that, the actor had starred in six other TV pilots that did not take off.
He Worked As A Handyman
When an actors’ strike delayed filming on “Magnum P.I.” for six months, Selleck was already in Hawaii ready to begin filming. He had already signed a lease on an apartment, so he worked as a handyman for his landlord in order to make ends meet.
He Might Have Been Indiana Jones
The role of Indiana Jones in the “Raiders of the Lost Ark” was originally offered to Selleck. However, CBS forced the actor to pass on the movie due to a conflict with his “Magnum P.I.” contract. Selleck revealed the story in 2014 when talking to David Letterman.
He Met His Second Wife After Seeing Her Perform In ‘Cats’
Tom Selleck has been married to his second wife, Jillie Mack, for more than 30 years. They met in 1983 after Selleck saw her in a London performance of “Cats.” He credits their successful marriage to his choice to put his family before his career.
He Had A Secret Wedding
In 1987, Selleck and Mack married in a private ceremony in a 24-hour wedding chapel near Lake Tahoe in Nevada. They used the aliases “Tom Jenkins” and “Suzie Mark” so the press wouldn’t find out. They also only took Polaroid photos of the wedding, so that no one could get ahold of the negatives.
He Played Basketball In College
At 6 feet 4 inches tall, it’s not surprising that young Tom Selleck gravitated toward basketball. When he was a student at the University of Southern California, he played for the school’s men’s basketball team.
He Briefly Dated Mimi Rogers
Before marrying Jillie Mack, Selleck dated actress Mimi Rogers. Rogers would later go on to marry another ’80s heartthrob, Tom Cruise. Selleck met Mack not long after his breakup with Rogers, according to People magazine.
Some People Confuse Him With Burt Reynolds
Because of their mustaches and similar features, some people have confused Tom Selleck with the late Burt Reynolds. You can see why below.
He Lives On An Avocado Ranch
Selleck lives on a 65-acre ranch and avocado farm in California. Despite this, Selleck told People that he hates avocados. “I don’t eat ’em … Honestly, they make me gag,” he said. “But it’s just as well. I’ll sell my portion.”
His Daughter Is An Accomplished Equestrian
Selleck and Mack have one daughter, Hannah. Although she has dabbled in the entertainment business, she decided not to follow in her parents’ footsteps. Instead, she is an accomplished equestrian and breeds horses for a living.
‘Three Men And A Baby’ Is His Highest-Grossing Movie
Selleck, Steve Gutenberg and Ted Danson starred as three bachelors who are suddenly left to care for a baby in this 1987 hit film. The film was America’s top-grossing movie of 1987 despite being up against a tough crop including “Dirty Dancing,” “Lethal Weapon,” and “Fatal Attraction.” It is also, by far, the highest-grossing movie of his career, earning $167 million domestically.
He Once Took Part In MLB Spring Training
For the 1992 film “Mr. Baseball,” Selleck spent three weeks at spring training with the Detroit Tigers. Having been born in Detroit, Selleck had been a longtime fan of the team and said it was a dream come true. “I was never more prepared for a movie role,” Selleck told Deseret News.
He’s Only Done Broadway Once
In 2001, Selleck made his Broadway debut in the revival of “A Thousand Clowns.” His performance and the show, on the whole, received mixed reviews. To date, it has been his only Broadway credit.
He’s An Animal-Lover And Once Had A Family Cow Cremated
Selleck has a soft spot for animals, especially dogs. At one point, he owned five dogs: a German shepherd, an English cocker and three Cavalier King Charles spaniels. He also has co-starred with a dog in the Jesse Stone film series.
In a 2009 appearance on “The Daily Show,” Selleck gave host Jon Stewart the lowdown on all the animals on his ranch — including the fact that the Selleck family had once been so attached to a cow that they asked the vet to cremate her when she died so they could keep her ashes.
He Was Told That His ‘Friends’ Role Might Hurt His Career
The actor was told that taking a role on the sitcom “Friends” would be a step back, career-wise. However, he accepted the part because, “I liked the show and I liked Courteney [Cox] because I did a screen test with her for [the 1992 flick] ‘Folks!'” he told TV Insider. He ended up receiving an Emmy nomination for his performance and it introduced him to a new generation of fans.
He’s A Bit Of A Luddite
Selleck is not one to embrace new technology. In 2015 he told Entertainment Tonight he had only sent a single text message, ever, and said he had never used email. He’s not on Twitter or Instagram, which is a rarity for celebrities these days.
He Does NOT Have A Name For His Mustache
In case you’re wondering, Selleck does not have a nickname for his mustache and has no advice for anyone who wants to grow one. He credits his prominent upper lip hair to genetics. “You either got it or you don’t,” he told GQ.
He Did A Write-In Vote In The 2016 Presidential Election
During the 2016 presidential election, Selleck did not support either candidate. Instead of voting for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, the actor supported a write-in candidate. He revealed on “The View” that his choice for president was Dallas Police Chief David Brown.
He Has An Honorary Degree From Pepperdine University
Although he dropped out of USC, Selleck did end up with a degree. He received an honorary doctorate from Pepperdine University in 2000. He used his commencement speech as an opportunity to talk to Pepperdine students about character.
He Wishes The New ‘Magnum P.I.’ Well
Although he isn’t involved in the new show, Tom Selleck reportedly gave his blessing to the CBS remake starring Jay Hernandez. He won’t appear on the remake, however, the new series reportedly plans to pay homage to Selleck’s mustache in at least one episode.
He Doesn’t Like Being Thought Of As A Sex Symbol
Selleck was one of the biggest sex symbols of his era, appearing on the cover of Playgirl magazine four times. However, he never viewed himself as a hunk. “I think of myself as an actor first, not a sex symbol. Do I think I’m sexy? No, that’s someone else’s judgment, and I honestly don’t think you can try to be sexy and really succeed,” he said in a 1989 interview with the Chicago Tribune.
He Was The First Celebrity Guest On ‘The View’
In 1997, Selleck was the first ever celebrity guest on the talk show “The View.” Since then, the actor has made 16 more appearances during the show’s run of more than 20 years. Most recently, he appeared on “The View” to promote “Blue Bloods.”
He Was An Honorary Captain Of The 1984 Olympics
Selleck was the honorary captain of the U.S. Olympic Men’s Volleyball team in 1984. That year, the Olympics were held in Los Angeles. Volleyball was one of several sports the actor played in real life.