Friday, November 27, 2015         


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Selleck, others from 'Magnum' still working the small screen


Question: What ever happened to Tom Selleck and the rest of the cast of "Magnum, P.I."?

Answer: The much-anticipated overhaul of the groundbreaking series "Hawaii Five-0" has generated renewed interest not just in the original series, which ran from 1968 to 1980, but also to another celebrated crime series shot in Hawaii -- "Magnum, P.I."

The series, which garnered 17 Emmy nominations during its eight-year run in the 1980s, appears in retrospect the stylistic bridge between the dour, gritty "Hawaii Five-0" that became a television classic and the lighter, action-oriented remake that dominated its time slot Monday.

The series starred Selleck as Thomas Magnum, a Vietnam vet turned private detective who lives on a luxurious estate (thanks to the largesse of its unseen owner, Robin Masters), bickers with uptight estate manager Higgins (John Hillerman) and solves mysteries with his buddies T.C. (Roger Mosley) and Rick (Larry Manetti).

While some residents chafed at the depiction of Hawaii as a playground for haole transplants, the show was a consistent ratings hit, drawing more than 16 million viewers each week at its peak. For a generation of TV viewers, the driving Mike Post score, sweeping landscape shots and ample screen time of aloha-shirt-clad Selleck cruising in his red Ferrari 308 GTS signaled a weekly dose of escapist fun.

In fact, the new McGarrett has more in common with Magnum than with the old McGarrett: naval intelligence officer, nice house on the beach.

Selleck has enjoyed a long and fruitful post-Magnum career. With more than 10 years of film and TV experience under his belt before he began "Magnum, P.I.," Selleck rode the success of the series to a series of starring film roles -- with mixed results. While "Three Men and a Baby" was a hit, other films like "Quigley Down Under" and "Mr. Baseball" had little impact beyond the red-tag bin.

Selleck fared better on the small screen, making the most of recurring roles in hit shows like "Friends," "The Closer" and "Las Vegas" and enjoying critical and popular success for his "Jesse Stone" series of TV movies. The new CBS series "Blue Bloods," in which Selleck plays cop family patriarch Frank Reagan, debuts tomorrow and has already drawn positive reviews. Selleck divides his time between New York, where the series is shot, and California, where he and his wife of 23 years, Jillie Mack, own a farm.

Mosley, Magnum's erstwhile helicopter pilot, is also celebrating a return to episodic television this season with his role as Grandpa Faison in the NBC comedy "FCU: Fact Checkers Unit." The 71-year-old actor had recurring roles in "Hanging with Mr. Cooper" and "Rude Awakening."

Manetti, whose birth year is alternately listed as 1942 and 1947, also has been busy, if not quite so prominent, in the post-Magnum years, with more than 25 film and TV appearances since he last played Rick in 1988. Manetti authored the 1999 book "Aloha Magnum" about his experiences on "Magnum P.I."

Hillerman, whose work as the prickly Higgins earned both a Golden Globe and an Emmy, acted sparingly in the years after Magnum, including a recurring role on the short-lived "Valerie's Family" and an appearance in "A Very Brady Sequel." Hillerman is retired in his native Texas.

This update was written by Michael Tsai. Suggest a topic for "Whatever Happened To ..." by writing Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Suite 7-210, Honolulu 96813; call 529-4747; or e-mail

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