It’s Facial Hair Friday, and we’re taking a look at actor Tom Selleck and his iconic mustache. Today’s post comes from Michael J. Hancock, archives technician at the National Archives at College Park, MD.
That red Ferrari, that Hawaiian shirt, that theme song, and that bushy mustache! Magnum P.I. was one of the most popular television series throughout much of the 1980s, and it wasn’t just the location, the adventure, or the chart-topping opening tune that made it a cultural phenomenon—it was Tom Selleck and his “lip fur.”
Tom Selleck played the title role in Magnum, P.I., private investigator, former naval intelligence officer, Vietnam veteran, and all-around ladies man. It was the role that made him a household name worldwide. We all enjoyed following his latest adventures and the humorous interactions he had with his fellow vets, T.C. and Rick, or the contemptuous banter with the overseer of the estate, Higgins, where Magnum lived (rent free, of course!).
Tom Selleck was born January 29, 1945, in Detroit, Michigan. As a young child, his family relocated to Sherman Oaks, California. While attending the University of Southern California, he belonged to the Sigma Phi fraternity and also did some modeling to support himself. Standing at an impressive 6 feet 4 inches, Selleck also played basketball for the university. Ultimately, he dropped out of school to pursue an acting career, and he signed on with 20th Century Fox just three credits short of his business degree.
Selleck is a veteran too, having served in the California National Guard from 1967 to 1973 reaching the rank of sergeant in California’s 160th Infantry Regiment. Even Uncle Sam recognized Selleck’s good looks and cast him for a series of recruiting posters for the National Guard!
Interestingly, Tom Selleck’s first television appearance was on the game show The Dating Game in 1965 and then, again, in 1967. Yes, the swanky furniture, the hip flowered themes on the walls, and the trumpet theme music were all on full display. What wasn’t featured, however, was Tom Selleck’s mustache (he was clean-shaven for the show), which might explain why he lost both times!
Tom’s big break came at the ripe age of 35, when he was selected to play Thomas Magnum in Magnum P.I. The crime drama was centered on the private investigator living at the island ranch owned by secretive novelist Robin Masters. Selleck’s character had a distinguished resume: Navy Seal, Vietnam veteran, and retired Naval Intelligence Officer.
His was the first portrayal of a Vietnam veteran that real-life former servicemen viewed as genuine of the aftereffects of the conflict. Selleck also scored hits with Three Men and a Baby and, as a younger generation would remember, his appearances on Friends as Monica’s older boyfriend. He currently stars in Blue Bloods.
Selleck served on the board of directors of the National Rifle Association until he left that post in 2018. He also donated the gun he used for the film Quigley Down Under to the NRA, and it has been a featured display at the National Firearms Museum in Fairfax, Virginia. In February 2009, he joined the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund as the national spokesman for the newly developed Education Center on the National Mall.
Tom now lives on an avocado ranch once owned by entertainer Dean Martin in Thousand Oaks-Westlake Village, California, with his family. There, he happily tends to the more than 1,500 native avocado trees, the stables, and his famous “mouth brow.”