Blue Bloods

Tom Selleck on “Blue Bloods” and his memoir, “You Never Know”

[Music] From Magnum PI to Blue Bloods and more, actor Tom Selleck has ascended to heights he never imagined. Now he’s taking in The View with our Tracy Smith. Watch your step, there’s no handrail, it is a little steep on the highest hill at Tom Selleck’s California Ranch. It’s hard to beat the panorama, I tell you. For a guy who values his privacy, you couldn’t pick a better spot than this. Thank you. At 79, you could say the actor is very familiar with the view from the top. Hey, come on, don’t overthink this guys, you’re as tough as they come. For the past 14 years, Selleck has starred in the hit CBS show Blue Bloods as the head of the NYPD and the head of a strong and often headstrong family.

“I knew that you and Dad would be for that rule, even if it wasn’t actually a rule, but the rule does make enormous sense.” The show is set to end this year, but there’s been some pushback on that, most notably from Selleck himself. Is Blue Bloods ending? Well, that’s a good question. I will continue to think that CBS will come to their senses. We’re the third-highest scripted show in all of broadcast, we’re winning the night, all the cast wants to come back, and I can tell you this, we aren’t sliding off down a cliff. We’re doing good shows and still holding our place, so I don’t know, you tell me.

Watch Sunday Morning: Tom Selleck on "Blue Bloods" and his memoir, "You  Never Know" - Full show on CBS

It’s not the first time Tom Selleck has been at odds with the powers that be in a career that’s been long and legendary. In his most famous role in the 80s, the character Thomas Magnum wore a Detroit Tigers baseball cap. That’s a nod to the town in which Tom Selleck himself was born. Long before Magnum and the mustache, he was an athlete at the University of Southern California. And after a less-than-stellar academic career, he found work in ads.

“People are switching to Band Basic, selling products like Band Basic and bar soap Safeguard doesn’t need heavy perfume to… M oder good morning, good morning. He smells just the way a man should smell, clean.” Yep, that’s Teri Garr and Penny Marshall back when they were all young and struggling.

You told yourself early on going to auditions and interviews, you would literally say to yourself in the car, “You’re good enough, Tom. I’d say you’re enough.” But that’s… thank you, maybe that “good” would have helped, but I didn’t think of that. “But you’re enough, Tom,” you’d say that to yourself. I did, I did. But little of what he did in his early career was ever enough. Not the soap opera gig, “I could use a little transfusion. This, for me,” or the six TV pilots he made.

And then he was signed to do Magnum PI. And around the same time, Selleck was offered another role from Steven Spielberg. “Steven said, ‘Here’s the script. Go read it. Tell me if you like it, ’cause we want you for Indiana Jones.’ So I got to about page eight in Steven’s office, and I just went, ‘Oh, this is really good.'”

But in a story that’s become legend, he was forced to turn down Raiders of the Lost Ark for Magnum. In a long-awaited memoir out this week, Selleck shares the details of what he calls the World Series of Disappointments and how he quickly made peace with it. “You can make yourself a victim or just smile and say, ‘That’s really ironic.’ And you chose to smile?” I had a good job coming up. A job I would have dreamed of, Raiders or not.

Magnum PI debuted in 1980 on CBS about a former Navy SEAL and Vietnam vet turned private investigator. The studio wanted to lose the Vietnam element. Back then, the wounds of the war were still fresh. But Selleck and his producer fought hard to keep it in, and the show was a hit.

Among its biggest fans, Frank Sinatra, who once told Magnum co-star Larry Manetti that he’d like to be on the show. And Larry comes to me and says, “Frank wants to do the show.” And he said, “But um, he wants to be asked.” So you have to call him. “And he wanted to do it right away.” So I said, “Well, we’re going to have to write it for you.” “What… what do you want to do?” He said, “Oh, I don’t care. Just make sure I get to beat somebody up.” That was his condition. Yeah, um, that’s Frank.

The Magnum PI guest shot was Sinatra’s last acting job. We got a money, but it was only the beginning of Tom Selleck’s reign as an 80s sex symbol. That smile, that swagger, that mustache. In private, however, Selleck was smitten by British actor Jillie Mack, whom he first spotted when she was in the London production of Cats. “I got checked out by some of the cast. Never Jillie. One of the cast members told her at halftime, he says, ‘You know who keeps staring at you? Tom Selleck.’ And, um, I don’t know how to clean this up.” She just said, “Who the ****’s that?” Um, she didn’t know who I was from Adam, which to me was the greatest thing in the world.

They married in secret in 1987 just before Magnum entered its final season. They’ve been together ever since. By that time, Selleck says he was burned out, but he knew he’d helped create something that was more than just a TV show. When Magnum ended, we got a call from the Smithsonian, and they said, “Uh, we want to honor Magnum. We need some artifacts.” And they took my hat and my… the ring I wore, the team ring, and Vietnam and… my Hawaiian shirt, the red one. And we went back there, and they read the citation. They gave us credit for being the first show that showed Vietnam veterans in a positive light.

So, fight was worth it. He said it was for him. These days, he spends most of his non-working time on his ranch, and it’s not hard to see why. You know, hopefully I’ll keep working enough to hold onto the place. Seriously, that’s an issue. If you stopped working… Was an issue if I stopped working? Yeah. Am I set for life? Yeah, but maybe not on a 63-acre ranch. Happily, he likes his job, and after 60 years in front of the camera, Tom Selleck knows he’s enough.

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