Tom Selleck admits to “messed up” health issues after over 50 years of doing his own film stunts

Tom Selleck wasn’t sure that he wanted to be an actor growing up. Born January 29, 1945, in Detroit, Michigan, his family moved to California, where he grew up in the San Fernando Valley.

Selleck dreamt about enrolling at the University of Southern California (USC), but his family couldn’t afford the cost of tuition.

In 1962, he graduated from Grant High School. After enrolling at Los Angeles Valley College, he decided to live at home with his parents to save money.

In his early days, it seemed more likely that Tom was to have a career in athletics instead of acting. He was an up-and-coming basketball player and dreamt about going pro. With that in mind, one can only imagine how happy he was after being awarded a basketball scholarship at the University of Southern California.

Tom Selleck

LOS ANGELES – 1980: Actor Tom Selleck poses for a portrait in 1980 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Donaldson Collection/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

“I never did school plays. I had no interest,” Tom told AARP in 2015.

But playing basketball at a high college level was easier said than done. As reported by KSL, he scored just four points in seven games for the USC Trojans during the 1965-1966 season. The year after that, he was scoreless in three games.

An excerpt from USC’s school guide reads that Tom was an “agile and quick performer who adds depth on front line. Business administration major is good jumper with fine mobility. Rapidly improving shooter has impressed coaches with his hustle in practice. Needs to work on defense.”

But in the end, Tom simply couldn’t compete with his bigger, taller teammates.

“I was pretty good, but I wasn’t good enough,” Selleck recalled.

In the back of his mind, Selleck understood that basketball probably wasn’t going to be his future career. However, he had a backup plan, and took a side job to help pay his tuition. The aspiring student first landed a couple of gigs in television commercials and appeared on The Dating Game.

Tom Selleck


Looking back, it wasn’t his proudest moment, but it would affect this future more than he ever could’ve imagined.

“Humiliating and embarrassing,” he recalled of being on the dating show. “I lost. Twice. I wasn’t particularly funny or glib.”

Shortly after, though, Selleck was offered a spot on 20th Century Fox’s talent program. He started crafting his skills, but after two years, he took leave to do six months of active duty.

Upon returning, Selleck was dropped. But instead of giving up, he was confident that he would make it as an actor.

In the early 1970s, he landed smaller parts in many television series. Then, approaching his mid-30s, Selleck starred in six television pilots. Despite that, his big breakthrough didn’t arrive.

According to Tom himself, that was why many thought he was an overnight success when he landed the role of Thomas Magnum in Magnum, P. I.

Breakthrough on ‘Magnum P. I’
In reality, he had struggled and fought desperately hard.

“The luckiest thing that happened was that I didn’t get a real job until I was 35,” Selleck explained.

“When I was 25, I looked 35 but sounded 15. There are a lot of very good actors who make it as younger leading men but don’t graduate — because the audience won’t accept them as grown up.”

Magnum, P. I became a huge success. The crime drama television series aired between 1980 and 1988, and it brought Tom instant celebrity status. He was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series five years in a row – he finally won it in 1984.

Tom Selleck

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – JULY 27: Tom Selleck seen out and about in Manhattan on July 27, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Robert Kamau/GC Images)

For more than a decade, Selleck had struggled to make it as an actor, and he was close to giving up.

“I think if Magnum hadn’t worked out, I’d never have worked again in this business,” he admitted.

Tom reached cult status through Magnum, and his career ever since has been nothing short of an incredible success story. Other credits include films such as Three Men and a Baby and In & Out. He was also introduced to a new generation of fans when he starred as Monica Geller’s older boyfriend, Richard Burke, beginning in Season 2 of the hit comedy series Friends.

In 2010, Selleck got the role of Frank Reagan on the drama series Blue Bloods, which opened a new and exciting chapter for the actor. The show has just been renewed for its 13th season, which will premiere this fall.

According to Celebrity Net Worth, Selleck has a net worth of around $45 million.

In many films and series, actors have their own stunt-person. Often it can be a dangerous job, but for a small few, having someone else perform their stunts is simply out of the question.

Selleck’s done most of his stunts himself in the past, but that has come at a cost. He says his body is not what it used to be.

“My back’s kind of messed up,” Selleck shared.

“When you do stunts in movies—I do a lot of them—you’re taking a risk, but you’re also sitting around a lot. So you might do a fight scene, and then you sit in your chair, and it’s not like you have a personal trainer saying, “Okay, we’re ready to go, but Tom needs ten minutes of stretching and warm-up.”

“And I think the price,” he added, “I see it with peers, I talk to them sometimes. You just see the price of all those stunts. They weren’t that hard, but I think it’s the stop-and-go of all that stuff.”

Selleck once revealed that he doesn’t like going to the gym, though he’s trying to keep fit by working at the family ranch in Ventura, California.

“I have a 63-acre ranch, and I do not all, but a lot of, the grunt work. Clearing brush, planting trees. We’ve got about a hundred ancient oaks I planted. I’ve probably planted a thousand trees myself.”

It goes without saying that Tom’s career is one to admire. But another thing to celebrate is his loyalty to his wife, Jillie Mack. While many celebrity marriages come and go, the pair have been happily married for 35 years.

In an interview with Closer Weekly, Selleck recalled the first time he met Jillie Mack at a performance of the musical Cats, in which Mack was starring. It was the 1980s, after Selleck’s decade-long marriage to model Jacqueline Ray ended.

While Selleck says he’s not as smooth with the ladies as his on-screen counterparts, he approached his future wife backstage, though she was the one who made the first move.

“She had to go on [stage]. I was hemming and hawing, and she finally asked, ‘Do you want to meet for a cocktail?’” Selleck recalled.

The date apparently went well, and Selleck and Mack were married in 1987 in a private ceremony. One year after their wedding, their daughter Hannah was born.

Ever since, Selleck has put his family ahead of stardom and has tried to keep his personal life out of the Hollywood spotlight.

“I quit Magnum to have a family”
In fact, he even let his acting career take a back seat to ensure he had adequate time to spend with his wife and beloved daughter.

“I quit Magnum to have a family,” Tom Selleck told People in 2012.

“It took a long time to get off the train, but I try very hard to have balance, and this ranch has helped me do that.”

“We both thought it was the best environment for Hannah to grow up,” Jillie Mack added.

Tom – a great fan of nature and the outdoors – was keen on sharing his passion with his daughter. Soon enough, he’d passed it on to her!

Tom and his wife Jillie live on the 65-acre ranch in Ventura, and it was there Hannah was brought up. Both father and daughter share a passion for horses; later on, the two had a side business breeding horses. Hannah moved on to pursue riding professionally, and boy, did she do well.

Over the years, she’s qualified for several grand Prix level competitions, collecting several medals.

Hannah Selleck finished top-five in St. Moritz, Switzerland; Belgium; the Netherlands; and the Canadian Pacific Grand Prix at the 2015 Longines Masters of Los Angeles.

Unfortunately, Selleck shattered her tibia and fibula in a 2018 incident. As a result, she was told that she might not even be able to run again – but luckily, that wasn’t the case.

Later, she translated her passion for horses into a highly successful breeding and training operation named Descanso Farm. Hopefully, she and father Tom will be able to keep their passion for horses intact for many years.

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