Tom Selleck’s ‘Magnum PI’ Costar John Hillerman Recalled the Actor Getting ‘Mash Notes’ in Restaurants

by Leanne Stahulak

Back in his “Magnum PI” days, star Tom Selleck never really focused on wooing the ladies. But his co-star John Hillerman said they were infatuated regardless.

John Hillerman and Tom Selleck spent a lot of time together on the “Magnum PI” set. Hillerman starred as Major Domo Higgins, Magnum’s close friend on the show. It sounds like that friendship translated into the relationship between the actors themselves, who would hang out outside of “Magnum PI” too.

Back in 1982, Hillerman opened up about Selleck in an interview for PEOPLE magazine. Hillerman focused on describing Tom Selleck’s love life, which the article says was surprisingly sparse following Selleck’s divorce from his first wife, Jacqueline Ray.

Apparently, in the age before text messages and DMs, Selleck would get “mash notes” from ladies while he was out in public. Google describes mash notes as little love letters that express appreciation or infatuation.

“Tom gets mash notes from women at restaurants, and it embarrasses him. I’ve seen women literally palpitate when they look at him, and that astounds him. He doesn’t understand it at all,” Hillerman explained back in 1982.

Tom Selleck liked to focus on himself back in those early “Magnum PI” days. He said out and out that he didn’t have enough time to focus on relationships. While filming Season 1 of the show, he worked 80 hours over the course of six days per week.

“There aren’t enough hours in the day to conduct relationships,” Selleck said. “I’ve been able to rationalize [shortening his hours] by thinking, well, if they get me so run-down that I end up sick for a month—no show.”

During His ‘Magnum PI’ Days, Tom Selleck Didn’t Like Being in the Spotlight

In this 1982 interview with PEOPLE magazine, Tom Selleck revealed that the confident, outgoing person on screen is actually quite reserved in real life.

“I don’t relish being a public person—I almost break out if I have to speak in public,” Tom Selleck said. “It’s very fatiguing to know that everything you do, all day, is being photographed. I’m not saying it’s a cross to bear, it’s just not a very easy adjustment.”

He added, “Most people consider me pretty laid back, but obviously there’s some intensity in there somewhere. I’m not overly ambitious, but I’m very competitive.”

When not on the set of “Magnum PI,” Selleck spent a lot of time playing volleyball with former Olympians at the Outrigger Canoe Club in Oahu. His volleyball team even placed second in the Senior National Championships in 1981.

“No one cares if I’m on TV—I’m off the team if I don’t perform,” Selleck said. “It’s nice to get away from business, and it’s a neat way to get stuff out of your system.”