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’s Never Had Plastic Surgery
In a 2014 interview with GQ, Tom Selleck said he’s never had plastic surgery. Still, he didn’t rule out going under the knife in the future.
“I don’t have anything really against it, if I can look at it as a tool and not a kind of narcissistic manifestation of vanity, which it probably is, anyway,” he said. “But I do think there’s a difference between that kind of vanity and your work. If it allows you to do your job and be accepted in a larger variety of things, I think it’s okay.”
He Shaved Off His Trademark Mustache For ‘In & Out’
Tom Selleck shaved off his famous mustache for his role in the 1997 film “In & Out.” His character is a gay entertainment reporter who shares his coming out story (and a kiss!) with Kevin Kline’s character. Decades later, Selleck offered to shave off his mustache for the CBS show “Blue Bloods,” but the network told him no.
He Danced With Princess Diana At A White House Dinner
Although John Travolta is possibly more famous for dancing with Princess Diana at a 1985 White House dinner, Tom Selleck was at the same event and also shared some time on the dance floor with the British royal, who he described as “just charming, lovely.” Selleck said he learned to dance the waltz in his youth for cotillion balls. Still, he admits he was nervous while dancing with the princess.
The Poster For ‘Three Men And A Baby’ Was A Memorable Experience
The movie poster for “Three Men and a Baby” famously features Selleck standing with his co-stars — Steve Guttenberg, Ted Danson and a baby — while wearing a wet, clearly peed-on shirt. The actor revealed to Jimmy Fallon that the wet shirt wasn’t a part of the plan for the photoshoot; the baby just happened to pee on him and photographer Annie Leibovitz went with it.
“It’s actually, for once in my life, a genuine expression,” he said of the photo.
He’s A Picky Eater
Tom Selleck is known for being a picky eater. In an interview with Rachael Ray, he revealed some of his quirky eating habits. For instance, he’s not a fan of figs as a fruit, but he loves Fig Newtons as a snack.
James Garner Was His Mentor
After working together on the TV show “The Rockford Diaries,” Tom Selleck developed a friendship with fellow actor James Garner. He has even referred to him as a mentor. Selleck believes that people can still take “star lessons” from the Emmy Award-winning star, who passed away in 2014.
He Was Starstruck By Faye Dunaway
When Rachael Ray asked if he’d ever been starstruck, Selleck replied that working with Faye Dunaway in the 2000 TV movie “Running Mates” literally left him speechless.
“I had this scene with Faye Dunaway,” he said. “And you’re not supposed to do this as an actor, but I’m in the middle of this scene … and it was kind of a romantic scene, and all of a sudden in the back of my brain I said, ‘That’s Faye Dunaway!’ And I forgot everything I was supposed to say. The director said, ‘What’s wrong?’ and I couldn’t tell him!”
He’s An Aquarius
Tom Selleck was born on Jan. 29, 1945, making his astrological sign Aquarius. Aquarians like Selleck are known for being rule-breakers who march to their own beat. Oprah Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres are also fellow Aquarians.
He Doesn’t Like Going To The Gym
Selleck told GQ Magazine that he doesn’t like to exercise at the gym. Instead, he gets his workouts from doing work around his ranch.
“I have a 63-acre ranch, and I do not all, but a lot of, the grunt work,” he said. “Clearing brush, planting trees. We’ve got about a hundred ancient oaks I planted. I’ve probably planted a thousand trees myself.”
He Was Honored With A Paley Award
The Paley Center announced that they would be honoring Tom Selleck with a Paley Award in 2020 for his lifetime achievement in television.
In a statement, Selleck said: “From a kid who ‘watched’ the radio to a young man who languished on the bench of the USC basketball team, well, it’s a long way from there to here. To be honest I am not sure where ‘getting here’ lands you, so I am grateful for the Paley Center’s invitation to a celebration of ‘getting here,’ wherever that may be.”
He Doesn’t Dye His Hair
Tom Selleck’s salt and pepper hair is all-natural. The actor told GQ that he doesn’t dye his hair, saying: “I’m sick of people telling me I dye my hair! This is it, man. I’ve got gray hair in there. At my age, turning gray is kind of a blessing, where it softens all of the other horrible things it does to you, but it is what it is. I even added gray in my mustache for Blue Bloods.”
He Had Great Parents
Although they are no longer around, the actor has said that his parents were great. In an interview with GQ, Tom Selleck revealed that he thinks he’s becoming more like his father as he gets older.
“I hear him sometimes, in some things I talk about,” said Selleck. “Sometimes I hear him with my daughter [pictured below with her parents in 2007]. I don’t know what it was—my dad was a great guy, a great example. Every time I talk to my friends, they were scared to death of him. Well, he’s a big, six-foot-four guy, but he’s a very fair man. He coached the Little League team and did so much stuff. And I don’t mind that—it’s not ‘Oh, my God, I sound like my father.’ It’s welcome.”
He’s Writing An Autobiography
Like other famous people of a certain age, Tom Selleck is writing an autobiography.
“People have been asking me for years, and I’m finally going to do it,” he told Closer Weekly. “We’re talking to publishers now.”
He Came Up With Magnum P.I.’s Signature Look
According to Selleck, it was his idea for Magnum P.I. to wear Hawaiian shirts. However, because the character became so associated with the brightly colored shirts, he can no longer wear them in his everyday life.
“If I wear them now,” he told Martha Stewart, “I’ll go to the hardware store and somebody says ‘Tom, get over it. The show’s off the air.’ So I can’t wear Hawaiian shirts anymore.”
He Gave Nancy Reagan A Friendly Kiss
In May 1985, Tom Selleck volunteered to be an umpire for a charity tennis match at the White House. He was even photographed giving then-First Lady Nancy Reagan a kiss after presenting her with a tennis racquet. He and other celebrities in attendance helped raise $450,000 for the Nancy Reagan Drugs Abuse Fund. They reconnected at a charity event, below, in 2002.
He’s Regarded As A Perfectionist By His Co-Stars
According to his “Blue Bloods” co-star Donnie Wahlberg, Selleck is a perfectionist when it comes to his work. Wahlberg directed him in a “Blue Bloods” episode and got to see Selleck’s work ethic up close.
“He’s so dedicated to his work that you’re not going to come in and tell him these magnificent ideas that you have of how to make his scenes special,” Wahlberg told PopCulture.com. “He’s already come up with 500 ideas himself a week before you even sit down with him. That’s how devoted he is to his work.”
He’s A Fan Of Quotations
If you ask Tom Selleck for advice, he’ll probably answer by quoting some wise words.
“I’m big on quotes,” he said in an interview with GQ.
Among one of his favorites is, “Few of us are as good as we think we are; none of us are as good as we can be.”
His Career Has Included Westerns
Throughout his career, Tom Selleck has appeared in a number of western movies, including the 1990 film “Quigley Down Under.” He was even inducted into the National Cowboy Museum’s Hall of Great Western Performers.
“I was raised in tract housing but grew up watching westerns, and those movies had a deep-rooted influence on me,” he said in an interview with Cowboys & Indians.
He Is Done Doing His Own Movie Stunts
Tom Selleck revealed to GQ that although he did a lot of his stunts in the past, his body is not what it used to be.
“You know, my back’s kind of messed up,” he said. “When you do stunts in movies—I do a lot of them—you’re taking a risk, but you’re also sitting around a lot…You just see the price of all those stunts. They weren’t that hard, but I think it’s the stop-and-go of all that stuff.”
People Criticize Him For Magnum P.I.’s Short-Shorts
Although “Magnum P.I.” was a wildly successful TV show, there’s one criticism about the series that Selleck hears a lot.
“I know my shorts were too short, everybody tells me,” he said in an Entertainment Tonight video. “They were shorts, like shorts are supposed to be. Now shorts are like pajamas.”
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.