Yes, I know, ladies – he’s pretty easy to look at. That alone was probably enough to get him the Magnum, P.I. gig. But then we found out he could actually act. And he’s gotten better as he’s grown older.
Hollywood knew Tom had star power, but couldn’t find him the right vehicle. He starred in six pilots for shows that never made it. His first TV role of significance was a recurring part on The Rockford Files, and then a year later he finally hit the big time, getting cast as Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
But wait – Harrison Ford had that role. Tom had signed to do Magnum by that time, and he had to choose between the two projects. He decided to honor his TV contract, which certainly wasn’t a mistake, and was the honorable thing to do. But it does make you wonder what direction his career might have taken.
Tom has starred in a number of pleasant, but not blockbuster movies. Some of his films include 3 Men and a Baby, Quigley Down Under, and Mr. Baseball. However, I think his portrayal in a series of TV movies of Jesse Stone, chief of police in the small New England town of Paradise, is some of his best work. He fights the town’s leaders, struggles with alcohol, and deals with his inability to let go of his ex-wife with great intelligence and restraint. I’ve read the Robert B. Parker books upon which the character is based, and Selleck actually improves them.
Here’s an interesting factoid. Tom appeared on The Dating Game twice – and didn’t get the girl either time. Go figure.