Tom Selleck said people have called him the ‘Marlboro Man’ for years over a billboard he did when he worked as a male model. The Blue Bloods‘ star took the job to make ends meet and never lived it down, he said.
“I did a Salem billboard for about 500 bucks and forever since I’ve been called the Marlboro Man. I did commercials and maybe four still photography jobs to pay the rent,” he told TV Guide. “But in those days, being known as a male model didn’t help your career.”
But was just trying to make ends meet and get discovered, but that wasn’t what landed him an agent. He told the magazine that his career began on a game show.
“Actually a casting director saw me on The Dating Game, where I was hopelessly inept,” he said.
He said he went on the show because he was incapable of getting a one-on-one date. He was too shy. So, when some of his USC fraternity brothers and their girlfriends went on the show and pretended they didn’t know each other, Selleck tagged along. He made it on the show in 1965, but he lost out on the date. But the casting agent spotted him. For the record, Tom Selleck went on the show again in 1967 and again went home alone.
“Well, I got a good agent from doing the show who helped me get an audition for a 20th Century Fox new-talent program,” he told TV Guide. “I was in business school planning a career with United Airlines, and I’d never done any acting!”
Tom Selleck Said His Dad Talked Him Into Acting
When Tom Selleck first got the call from the casting agent, he had to make a decision. He would have to abandon his plans and his college major to take a gamble on a very shaky career. It would mean giving up stability for something that was a complete gamble. Selleck wasn’t sure what to do, so he called his dad for advice.
“When I asked my dad whether I should take the chance to quit United Airlines and take the Fox training and earn $35 a week, he told me, “I don’t think you want to be 35 years old and look back and say, ‘What if?’ ” He really embraced risk,” he said.
Tom Selleck at first landed some commercial work with the likes of Terri Garr and Farrah Fawcett. But his first acting role, however, was on the show Lancer in 1969.
He started landing more and more smaller roles until his big break came in 1980 with Magnum, P.I., which made him a household name. He’s remained a star since. He currently stars as Frank Reagan in Blue Bloods.