For the last 45 years, Selleck has romanced, inspired, and captured countless hearts across America. But there’s a side of Tom Selleck that many haven’t seen.
Widely recognized as one of Hollywood’s hunkiest heartthrobs, Tom Selleck redefined the definition of a man and reminded the world of what a true gentleman looks like.
I’ve always liked Tom Selleck, but after learning more about his humble beginnings and unashamed confession of his faith in Jesus, my love and respect for him has only grown all the more.
Thomas ‘Tom” William Selleck was born on January 29, 1945, in Detroit, Michigan. Raised by hardworking American parents, Tom’s mother, Martha Selleck, was a housewife, while his father, Robert Dean Selleck, was a skilled carpenter who later found success as an executive and real estate investor.
Tom is the second-born of four children. Tom’s siblings include his elder brother Robert (born 1944), and younger siblings, Martha (born 1953) and Daniel (born 1955).
When Tom was in middle school, his father’s dissatisfaction with carpentry led him to move his family to Sherman Oaks, California, where he looked for success in real estate. This move would later help pave the way for Selleck’s success as an actor and member of the U.S. military.
As a boy, Tom was quite the adorable little rascal, and it wasn’t unusual for young Tom and his brothers to prank their poor mother by catching a mouse and chasing her around the house with it. Martha Selleck admits that she warned Tom to “just wait for his father to get home” quite a few times throughout his childhood.
By the time Selleck was a teenager, he had grown into a handsome, responsible and gifted young man. Tom attended Grant High School where he played several sports and proved to have a natural knack for athletics.
Upon graduating high school in 1962, Selleck had his heart set on enrolling at the University of Southern California, but wasn’t able to afford tuition. So instead, Selleck enrolled in Valley Junior College, worked hard, saved money,and earned a basketball scholarship which helped offset tuition after enrolling in USC in his junior year.
Selleck played for the Trojans men’s basketball team at USC and was also a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity. But in order to earn a living and support himself, Selleck began working as a model. It was throughout those college years that Selleck developed a strong work ethic and God’s plan for his life quickly began to reveal itself.
It was at USC, while majoring in business administration, that he entered the world of Hollywood after a drama coach suggested that Selleck take a stab at acting. Young Tom’s first TV appearance was as a college senior on The Dating Game in 1965, and again in 1967. And it wasn’t long before he appeared in dozens of commercials for popular products such as Pepsi-Cola.
Selleck’s first television commercial was for a deodorizing soap that promised “naturally clean-smelling skin,” known as SafeGuard. And it was a smashing success as Selleck’s charm and charisma wooed the hearts of countless women across America.
After working with Selleck, the commercial’s director, Robert Sallin, loved Tom so much he decided to give him the suit and entire wardrobe used in the commercial. Sallin shared, “He [Tom] was so terrific, I gave him the wardrobe. He told me many years later that it was his only suit and he wore it for every casting interview.”
After graduating from USC, Selleck went on to study acting at the Beverly Hills Playhouse under Milton Katselas. Twentieth Century Fox soon approached him to join their talent program. Selleck signed on, and worked hard to learn the art of acting.
Selleck shared, “I think, when I went to Fox, I was on my own with no frame of reference, no connection. I’d never done a play in my life. I started at about thirty-five bucks a week, and every six months you either got fired or renewed. If you got renewed, you got a raise on their term contracts.”
Selleck’s opportunity at Fox gave the young actor a shot at stardom, but Selleck would temporarily take a break for a much bigger purpose. It was during that time that America found itself in the middle of the Vietnam War and Selleck was issued draft orders.
Selleck proudly joined the California National Guard in the 160th infantry regiment and served from 1967 to 1973.
Selleck later appeared on California National Guard’s recruiting posters. And although Selleck only served for six years, his service to America left a strong impression on the aspiring actor and it proved to forever deepen his sense of American pride.
Selleck shared, “I am a veteran, I’m proud of it, I was a sergeant in the U.S. Army infantry, National Guard, Vietnam era. We’re all brothers and sisters in that sense.”
Selleck did six months active duty in the middle of his time at Fox, but upon returning to civilian life, the talent program let him go. Tom was heartbroken to return from serving his country only to discover that he was fired, but Selleck trusted God’s plan.
For the next eleven years, Selleck continued to pursue acting and worked fervently on six pilots for television shows that would never amount to anything special. By this time, Selleck was in his 30’s and earning a very modest living. But despite delays in landing his ‘big break,’ Selleck refused to give up and continued to put in the hard work.
In 1980, after over a decade of challenges and disheartening let-downs, 35-year-old Selleck was finally offered the lead role as the Hawaii-based private investigator known as “Thomas Magnum” in Magnum, P.I. — the role that would forever change the course of his life.
Selleck promptly moved to Hawaii, but before Magnum P.I. could begin shooting, a writers’ strike delayed filming. The strike meant that Tom Selleck was without work and without pay. Desperate to earn a living, Selleck began working for his landlord as a handyman, making only $7 dollars an hour in order to make ends meet.
It was during that painstaking 6-month-span that Selleck was offered the lead role as “Indiana Jones” in Raiders of the Lost Ark, but Magnum’s producers wouldn’t release Selleck for other projects, so Tom Selleck faced a challenging decision.
Would he go back on his word and cancel his 13-episodes pilot contract with Magnum P.I. in order to to secure a lead role in a big-budget Hollywood film? Despite six failed pilot series in his past and over a decade of setbacks, Selleck took his father’s advice that “a man is only as good as his word”. Selleck turned down Raiders, remained true to his word, and the part went to Harrison Ford.
But over time, Selleck’s choice proved to be the right one. Magnum P.I. was instantly successful as countless loyal viewers across America tuned in to watch the tall, dark, sensitive, and handsome detective with a red Ferrari.
Selleck’s award-winning role in Magnum P.I. redefined what a true leading man looked like. Selleck’s endearing strength, charm, laid-back demeanor, and humor resonated in the hearts of both men and women alike.
Selleck was famous for his mustache, a Hawaiian-style aloha shirt, a Detroit Tigers baseball cap, and of course — his Ferrari 308GTSi. In fact, Selleck’s red sports car became so identified with the role, that Ferrari fans now refer to the red-painted model as a “Magnum” Ferrari.
Magnum P.I. was consistently ranked in the top twenty American television programs during the first five years and is one of the highest-rated shows on U.S. television to date.
The show would go on for eight seasons and 162 episodes between 1980 and 1988, which earned Selleck a much-deserved Emmy Award for “Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series” in 1984.
Throughout his Magnum P.I. career, Selleck was named “Favorite Male Television Performer” four times by People’s Choice Awards and was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame in 1986.
By the end of Magnum P.I., Selleck had become it’s executive producer and was quite successful. But deep down, Selleck knew his life was missing something. Slowly but surely, he began changing his priorities.
Selleck recalled back on those days, “I just knew that if I wanted a family — which I was thinking seriously about at that point — that it was time at that point to move on. As good as this business has been to me, that’s not what life is about. Life is about more important things. You know, we’ve all struggled as we get successful in this business to balance that, I certainly have.”
And once 42-year-old Tom had made the decision to start a family, it didn’t take long for the hunky television star to settle down. As fate would have it, Selleck was in London filming for the movie Lassiter, when he fell in love with a West End musical known as “Cats.”
Selleck’s co-star, Jane Seymour explained, “He kept telling me how great Cats was. I thought it was good, but I couldn’t see going back a dozen times.”
As it turns out, it wasn’t so much the musical that had captured Selleck’s attention, but rather, one of its feline femmes, a beautiful and bubbly 29-year-old English actress and dancer by the name of Jillie Joan Mack.
After watching Cats almost a dozen times, Selleck mustered up enough courage to invite Jillie out to dinner. The beautiful Miss Mack happily obliged and the couple was inseparable from that point onward.
Jillie’s London agent, Bryn Newton recalled, “They had dinner one night and it went on from there.”
On August 7, 1987 at 9:20PM, 42-year-old Tom Selleck tied the knot with the love of his life in a charming secret ceremony. The couple’s hush-hush wedding took place in an open-all-hours wedding chapel known as the “Dream Maker” chapel in Incline Village, Nevada.
Selleck’s parents, Robert and Martha, and his brothers all went along when Tom and Jillie picked up the $27 wedding license at the Washoe County Clerk’s Office in Reno on the day of the wedding.
Selleck worked frantically to keep the ceremony a secret. His brother Bob, a real estate executive, made all the wedding arrangements the same day of the ceremony for “Tom Jenkins” and “Suzie Mark,” disclosing the couple’s identity to the minister only minutes before the service.
Selleck was so concerned about keeping their ceremony private, he went went so far as to have the wedding snapshots taken on a Polaroid by his own brothers, so pictures stolen from negatives couldn’t be leaked to the press.
PEOPLEreported that the bride and groom arrived at the chapel in separate rental cars wearing casual clothes, then changed into wedding attire in separate rooms. Tom looked dapper in a navy blue sports coat with a very all-American red, white and blue tie, while his bride looked flawless in a very traditional (but very tiny, size 2) floor-length white silk gown with baby breath flowers adorning her strawberry blonde hair.
They entered the oaken, Victorian-style chapel, walked down the emerald-green-carpeted aisle under a white trellis covered in fresh roses, knelt at the altar and took part in a double-ring, nondenominational, $75 ceremony. The ceremony was “very emotional and meaningful,” and the couple chose to kneel during most of it.
Their wedding officiant, Rev. Immel shared, “They were both nervous, like any other couple about to get married. He [Selleck] was very concerned that the service be heartfelt, very concerned for her [Jillie] that the service be meaningful. He is a very warm, caring man.”
On December 16, 1988 — and just 16 months after their wedding — Mr. and Mrs. Tom Selleck welcomed their first and only child, a beautiful baby girl they named Hannah Margaret.
And when it came to parenting, Selleck and Mack made a conscious decision to always be on the same team, Tom revealed, “Jillie and I have a pretty good partnership,” Selleck says. “We don’t do anything or make any decisions without consulting each other. And if one of us makes a decision involving Hannah, the other parent completely supports that position, even if you disagree.
Instead of living in a big Hollywood mansion, Mr. and Mrs. Selleck opted for the quiet and simple life. The Sellecks raised their daughter in a 1926 ranch house that sits on 65-acres of land in Ventura County, California, with a horse corral and a 20-acre working avocado farm to keep them busy.
Tom shared, “Anywhere I go, somebody says, ‘Don’t you have a house in Boca Raton? Or New Jersey?’ or wherever,” he says with a baffled expression. “The truth is, I’ve only got the one place.”
Today, thanks to her ranch-styled upbringing and love for horses, Selleck’s daughter, Hannah, is a rising equestrian star. Selleck and Mack also attribute their daughter’s maturity to their country lifestyle.
Jillie explained, “We both thought it [the country life] was the best environment for her [Hannah] to grow up.”
After Magnum P.I. ended, Selleck enjoyed a series of other roles in series like Friends, The Closer, and Jesse Stone. One of his biggest post-Magnum P.I. roles is of NYPD Police Commissioner “Frank Reagan” on the CBS hit show Blue Bloods.
Selleck has appeared in more than 50 film and television roles since Magnum, P.I., including Three Men and a Baby, Quigley Down Under, Mr. Baseball, and Lassiter.
But despite Selleck’s undeniable fame and fortune, he remains humble, down-to-earth, and strives to put his family first.
In a recent interview, Selleck reminded the world that his wife and daughter come first. He shared, “My first priority, is time with my family.”
Amidst a world oversaturated with broken marriages and families torn at the seams, Selleck and Mack refuse to attribute to Hollywood’s divorce rates.
Selleck shared, “It’s important to nurture your marriage, I think wanting time away from work has been good for that. It’s fair to say you don’t have sex as often as you did when you were 30,” the 70-year-old said.
Selleck then described how marriages must evolve emotionally. “It just grows more, kind of, satisfying… I think some of that comes with age, some of that comes with the good part of the familiarity,” he said. “I don’t think the infatuation stage of any relationship lasts forever, but it can grow into something.”
And despite the countless women always fighting for his attention, Selleck’s eyes remain set on his leading lady. Together, they’ve made a pact to never let their disagreements fester.
Selleck shared, “We decided long ago that fighting was a waste of time, so we said that if we had a difference of opinion about something, we would sit down over a cup of tea or a meal and talk it through. Jillie has a great sense of humor, so our talks often end with both of us laughing, and as they always say, laughter is the best medicine.”
A true romantic at heart, Tom’s love and devotion for Jillie is no secret as a friend recently revealed,
“Tom dotes on Jillie, he gets up early every morning, makes her a cup of tea and takes it to her before she gets out of bed. And he’s constantly texting her sexy messages. He’s also on a first name basis with the local florist because he’s always sending her flowers.”
Tom Selleck reminds the world what a true man looks like. But despite his great fame and fortune, Selleck takes no credit for himself, but instead he attributes it all to his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
In addition to his unwavering character when it comes to his faith and family, Tom Selleck is also one of the strongest Christian conservatives in Hollywood.
Today, Selleck hopes to encourage others to live a Godly lifestyle, led by Biblical principles instead of selfishness, a sense of entitlement, and greed.
Selleck shared, “I try very hard to conduct myself in an ethical way, because that’s important to my stability now. We’re a culture that’s so centered on the individual,” Selleck complains. “The culture says that basically nothing is more important than the way you feel. We’re living in an age that celebrates unchecked impulses.”
That’s one reason Selleck helped found Character Counts! with the late Congresswoman Barbara Jordan. It’s a youth-oriented nonprofit organization that focuses on building ethics. He’s an active board member, lobbying Congress and making frequent public appearances.
Whether he’s taking a public stand for our country’s Second Amendment, supporting our troops, or thanking the hardworking police officers across America, Selleck’s outstanding character and unwavering faith is a beautiful sight to behold.
Tom Selleck’s life boasts of what God can do when one man is willing to hold fast to his character, work hard, honor his wife, lead his family, and make a difference. And there’s no doubt that Tom Selleck’s life has inspired Americans of all ages.
While listening to Tom Selleck’s inspiring story, I just couldn’t help but think of Proverbs 16:9 and 1 Peter 5:5-7, which read,
“A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.”
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time.”
Tom’s steadfast character and undeniable love for his family sets him apart, while his faith and trust in the Lord is indeed a beautiful sight to behold. Thank you Tom Selleck, for your unashamed faith and unwavering principles. Tom Selleck will forever be one of the world’s most beloved actors. Happy Birthday to Tom Selleck! America needs more men in Hollywood like him, please share if you agree.