Decades before he played New York City Police Commissioner Frank Reagan on “Blue Bloods,” Tom Selleck became famous for playing another lawman. That character, of course, was private investigator Thomas Magnum on “Magnum, P.I.”
This series aired from 1980 until 1988. It followed Magnum’s adventures while he solved cases in Oahu, Hawaii. It’s a role that Selleck is still identified with. And, according to what the actor said during an interview in 2016, it is a show he remains proud to have been a part of.
Part of the backstory of Selleck’s character on “Magnum, P.I.” was that he was a Vietnam War veteran. When the series had its debut in 1980, that war was still very much on the minds of many Americans. And, it was not a very popular topic for very many people. So, Selleck and the showrunners decided that they would not shy away from that part of his character’s history.
The “Blue Bloods” star talked about this during an interview with the SAG-AFTRA Foundation in 2016. He also talked about the legacy of the very popular 1980s series.
“I’m very proud of ‘Magnum,'” Tom Selleck said. “I never mind talking about it.”
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One factor that made “Blue Bloods” star Tom Selleck proud to be part of “Magnum, P.I.” was that the crime drama included Magnum’s service in Vietnam as a character trait. In fact, near the end of the show’s original run, it was honored by a respected institution for that effort.
“You know, it was a show that we fought for some things,” Selleck recalled. “Not because a message is as important as the obligation to entertain, but in 1980 – I’m very proud of the fact – Vietnam and the subject and the people who fought the war weren’t very popular. Not universally, but it was kind of the tenor of the times.”
Magnum’s experiences in Vietnam were part of the show thanks to one man.
“I’m very proud that (creator) Don Bellisario put flashbacks from Vietnam (in the series) and made it a part of the character,” Selleck said. “I also fought, because Universal said and CBS said, ‘The flashbacks are great in the two-hour movie. They got to go away. Vietnam’s got to go away (in the series). It’s death.’ We said, ‘No.’ We weren’t a success yet.”
Thanks to its portrayal of a Vietnam veteran, “Magnum P.I.” was recognized with a very special honor.
“So long story, short, in the eighth season of ‘Magnum,’ they put my silly Hawaiian shirt and my Detroit Tigers hat, the ring in the Smithsonian and recognized this as the first show – I don’t want to get emotional – to recognize Vietnam veterans in a positive light,” Tom Selleck also said.