Tom Selleck: What You See Is What You Get

Tom Selleck: What You See Is What You Get

Aug 05, 2020Eric

There’s no one like Tom Selleck. Even if, during the height of his fame, he was mistaken for Burt Reynolds and Sam Elliot (two other famous mustachioed actors), the Magnum P.I. star is still unmistakeable for his eloquence, character, and charm. He does not hide who he is and is much-loved for that very reason. But there are some surprising things that the public does not know about him. 

Loves Horses 

Even though Selleck’s most famous character, Thomas Magnum, is associated with a red Ferrari, Tom Selleck, the actor prefers what’s on the Ferrari logo as his preferred method of transportation - a horse. The actor lives on a ranch in Hidden Valley, California, and is known for his special fondness for horses, which was something that helped him win a prestigious honor. 

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A Legend of Westerns 

In 2010, the actor was inducted into the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He garnered a place in the Hall of Great Western performers, which include the likes of John Wayne and Clint Eastwood. The actor starred in Westerns like “Quigley Down Under,” and was also a close friend to famous Western actors James Garner and Ben Johnson.

All-American Characters 

The actor has a history of choosing roles that reflect his patriotism and embody what America means to the rest of the world. Thomas Magnum was a Vietnam vet. Matthew Quigley is an American rifleman in Australia. Selleck’s role in “Mr. Baseball” also saw him as an American baseball player in Japan coming to terms with his fish-out-of-water status. 

Dedicated to His Country 

Tom Selleck’s patriotism was never more on display than after the terrible events of 9/11. The actor was starring in a Broadway play at the time when the towers came down. The entire city was shut down, including the Great White Way. But when mayor Rudy Giuliani asked for Broadway to reopen, the actor sought counsel from New York City police and firefighters as to what he should do. The cops and firefighters encouraged the actor to do what he does best - entertain.

A Police Commissioner On-Screen and Real Life

Maybe it’s Tom Selleck’s enduring respect for law enforcement officers that inspired him to take his latest role as Frank Reagan, New York City Police Commissioner, on the CBS show “Blue Bloods”. Selleck so inhabits the role that he is often saluted by real-life New York City police officers when he is out on the street. Looks like the respect runs both ways.

Actions, Not Just Words

Another time of crisis where Tom Selleck showed his true colors was after the shooting of five Dallas police officers in 2016. During that year’s presidential election, Selleck, he later admitted, wrote-in retired Dallas Police Chief David Brown’s name on his ballot, preferring him for president rather than Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. The actor later explained in interviews that he was especially moved by Brown’s leadership during that time of crisis. 

Committed to the Service

It is perhaps Selleck’s experience as an National Guardsman during the Vietnam War that has inspired his loyalty to country and those who choose to serve. Selleck spent six years in the 160th Infantry Regiment of the California Army National Guard and was awarded several citations for his service. The actor’s time in the service perhaps guided his film choices, as he has played Army vets, as well as Supreme Allied Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Loyalty Above All Else

Friends and co-stars are always quick to mention Selleck’s loyalty. There is no better example of this than the time he refused to go against his contract with the producers of Magnum P.I., which would have allowed him to play one of the most iconic heroes in the movies - Indiana Jones. Steven Spielberg and George Lucas offered the actor the part, but he had already signed a contract to play Magnum, and he would not go against his word.

A Place in the Smithsonian 

The hat worn by Harrison Ford in the "Raiders of the Lost Ark" is in the Smithsonian Museum, but Tom Selleck also managed to snag a spot in history. Even though Selleck was not able to take the role, he would eventually be honored with a place in the storied museum. Magnum P.I. was such a massive hit in the late 1980s that the Hawaiian-Aloha shirt and Detroit Tigers baseball cap favored by the character is also in the Museum, alongside Indiana Jones’ iconic fedora.

A Collector in His Own Right

Selleck not only managed to get his character immortalized in the Smithsonian, but he has also donated dozens of artifacts from his own collection to museums. It is no secret that the actor is an avid collector of antiques. He donated the props from “Quigley Down Under” to an exhibit. He has also donated over fifty-pieces (including spurs and saddles) to the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.

Wears His Politics on His Sleeve

The actor is not especially outspoken when it comes to his political leanings. He has variously admitted to being a Republican and, later, an Independent. Where the actor does not hide his affiliations is when it comes to his membership in the National Rifle Association (NRA). He joined when he was only eight-years-old and even served on the NRA Board, but stepped down in 2018.

A Few Brushes With Controversy

Despite his status as a TV legend, the Magnum P.I. actor has had some uncomfortable conversations about his membership in the NRA. None was more uncomfortable than his cringe-worthy appearance on the Rosie O’Donnell show in May 1999. He was supposed to promote his new movie, but the talk show host would not let Selleck’s involvement in the NRA go, especially since around the time of his appearance another school shooting had shocked the nation. The actor grew uncomfortable but he remained calm and was able to swerve out of the way of the host’s incessant grilling.

Still an Ideal Dinner Guest

The actor started his career doing commercials in the late 70s so he has experience doing commercial work. In 2015, he became the regular pitchman for financial services company American Advisors Group, who chose the actor from a list of other celebrity spokesmen based on the responses from focus group questions like “If you could choose one celebrity to have over as a dinner guest, who would you invite?” and “Who would you consider the most trustworthy?” The answer to all these questions was, of course, Tom Selleck.

Popping Up in Unexpected Places

Before his career resurgence with Blue Bloods, Selleck made another brief, but memorable run on a huge show that brought him back to the limelight when everyone thought he had already faded away. Selleck starred in a five-episode run on Friends, where he played the older paramour to Courtney Cox’s character, Monica Geller. The role was so indelible that Selleck earned an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series.

One Role That Played Against Type

A lot has been made about Tom Selleck’s preference to play macho, tough-guys in movies, but there was one role where he played against this rough-scrabble image. In 1997’s "In & Out", Selleck played a journalist, Peter Malloy covering a story about the outing of a small-town English teacher Howard Brackett, played by Kevin Kline. Although tame by today’s standards, the film includes a scene where the two characters kiss, which was something we never thought we would see Magnum P.I. doing.

What is your favorite Tom Selleck role? What are some of the things that you like about the actor? Share your thoughts in the comments section below. Whether it is his serene and laid-back nature, his love of horses, or the roles that made him famous, the list of reasons to love Tom Selleck has no end. Even at the age of 75, he can command a scene playing police commissioners and five-star generals, but shows as much gentleness and charm when playing the romantic lead, which is why he is still so beloved by his fans.