On This Day: Tom Selleck’s ‘Magnum P.I.’ Premieres in 1980

by Liz Holland
(Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Archive Photos/Getty Images)

The iconic ‘Magnum, P.I’ series starring Tom Selleck premiered 41 years ago on this day in 1980. The series ran for 8 seasons, and was one of the most popular programs on-air during its run from 1980-1988. A remake of the series premiered in 2018.

The ‘Magnum, P.I’ series is credited as Tom Selleck’s breakout role, leading to a decades-long career filled with success. The series followed Selleck’s character, Thomas Magnum adventure’s as a P.I. living in Oahu, Hawaii. Selleck eventually quit the series for personal reasons, desiring a life away from the spotlight.

Selleck Explains Why Magnum, P.I Ended

With that being said, the actor says he’s sure the show could have stayed on air for longer due to its success. In a 2017 interview, the star shared his thoughts on taking a break. “Magnum never was canceled,” Selleck said.  “God knows how many episodes we could’ve done, with the No. 1 show on the air.”

However, despite the success of the series, Selleck says he knew he needed a break.  “I had given the show an extra year,” the star said. “I had done the No. 1 movie in the world. I was tired from (Magnum) because I was doing 90-hour weeks for eight years. I wasn’t tired of it. So, it was time. What a nice way to go off. What a nice way to pay homage to the show. It was still so popular.”

Even though the star’s decision brought the series to a close in 1988, Tom Selleck says he’s beyond grateful for what the role did for him.  “The character is very important to me for a lot of reasons,” Selleck said of Thomas Magnum. “When you don’t get a regular job til you’re 35… To think it could happen twice (counting Blue Bloods), makes me really fortunate. That’s rare in people’s careers. Most people’s are shorter than that. Sometimes, it’s just the way things fall. I got kind of lucky.”

A Decision to Remain Private with His Success

Selleck has gone on to star in the popular CBS series “Blue Bloods,” which has been on-air since 2010. Magnum, P.I. and Blue Bloods remain Selleck’s most popular TV projects to date. Selleck participated in several TV Movies in between the two series. However, the popularity of the two series Selleck has starred in is undeniable.

Selleck says of his breakout role,  “I quit ‘Magnum,’ not because I didn’t like it or I was tired of it. I was tired from it. And I wanted a three-dimensional life because I didn’t have one.” Selleck goes on to explain of his decision to lead a more private life following the series.

“I knew intellectually what it would mean in terms of being a public person, but until you’ve lived it, there’s no way to understand it. I had a feeling of, ‘I don’t think I’m cut out for this.’”

As Selleck’s acting hiatus continued after over a year, headlines and rumors swirled surrounding his career. Would Selleck ever return to acting? “I put up with the articles that said he’s disappeared, he’s done,” Selleck continued. “And you do get done, I’m well aware of that. It was a big lull, but it put a lot of things in perspective.” However, Selleck has no regrets and considers himself lucky. 

“I’m proud of my work, I still love what I do, and I have my family,” he said. “I’ve been enormously fortunate.”

Magnum, P.I, continues to have an impact on modern-day television, with a remake of the series airing in 2018 starring Jay Hernandez. New episodes air on CBS every Friday at 9/8 central.