Marriage in Hollywood can often be a challenging endeavor. Often times, it seems that the more high-profile the celebrity, the shorter the marriage. Yet at the height of his career on Magnum P.I., leading man Tom Selleck married 20 year old Jillie Jean Mack. So how did this particular couple last while so many others failed? It was all due to one huge, life altering decision that has affected the couple to this very day.
Tom Selleck is a well-known actor, producer, and army veteran. He had a rocky road to becoming the American heartthrob on the popular 80’s television show, Magnum P.I. But once audiences saw him driving down the Hawaiian highways in his red Ferrari 308 GTS they immediately fell in love. Selleck was even awarded both a Primetime Emmy and a Golden Globe for his role.
It was at the height of his fame and success that Selleck suddenly had a difficult decision to make about his love life. Selleck had been dealing with an incredible busy filming schedule, and, with the demands of the television and film studios, he thought he may never find an opportunity for true love.
In 1984, four years after the start of filming for Magnum P.I., Tom Selleck traveled to London to begin shooting the heist spy film, Lassiter. Tom Selleck had been known by his coworkers for many years as being a hard working individual. But rather than rest after filming, the Hollywood star decided to go to the West End of London to catch a showing of the musical Cats.
Nobody could understand what was going on with this musical-obsessed star. Once, co-star Jane Seymour went with him, and in an interview with People, said, “I thought it was good, but I couldn’t see going back a dozen times.” Turns out it may not have been the show itself that kept Selleck coming back.
It wasn’t the singing, or dancing, or elaborate cat-costumes that had caught the eye of the Magnum P.I. star. As it turns out, Selleck had become smitten with a one of the high-energy dancers, Jillie Joan Mack who played Rumpleteazer. In spite of the age difference between Mack and Selleck, who was 39 years-old compared to Mack’s 25, Selleck made the bold move to ask Mack out to dinner.
This decision to look for another serious relationship may have been surprising, particularly since he had just stopped seeing a different actress, Mimi Rogers. That said, sparks seemed to fly over a dinner date, but would this London musical actress even be ready to date an actor who was always on the move?
Fortunately for Selleck, he had quite a bit going for him on top of being a famous television and film actor. As it turned out, this ladies’ man was also an international heartthrob. He had appeared on the covers of magazines and it wasn’t uncommon throughout the 1980s to see posters of this star appearing on the walls of his numerous female admirers.
For Mack, dating a sought after, famous man was likely very enticing, but she was also busy in London and was working hard to pursue her acting career. Selleck asking the spunky Cats dancer to uproot her life is quite a lot to ask for. Would Mack even be willing to do it?
As the saying goes, the heart wants what the heart wants. The two ended up hitting it off during that first dinner date, and many more dinners came following after. It seemed that, for now, Selleck was putting off having to choose between work and romance. Even with the age and cultural difference between the two of them – being from opposite sides of the pond and all – and Selleck’s filming schedule, nothing seemed able to come between them.
After Selleck wrapped up with the shooting of Lassiter, he left London for Hawaii in order to get back to filming Magnum P.I. Shortly after that, Mack’s contact with the theater ended and she decided she wanted to join him. But fears of her distracting his shooting schedule had the potential to tear them apart.
The couple’s reunion in Hawaii was most likely a very happy moment for the two of them. But Selleck had an obligation to CBS. In fact, his contract was so stringent that the studio wouldn’t even allow him to accept the role as Indiana Jones! As a result the job went to Harrison Ford, and Selleck was forced to miss a big opportunity. So did he even have the freedom to decide between love and work?
In addition to talent and charisma, turns out that the Magnum, P.I. actor was pretty crafty too. He used his pull as the star of the show to convince producers to allow Mack to guest star on the hit show. But would Mack have trepidation about being in a relationship with an older divorcee?
Jacqueline Ray was a model who later became an actress and like Tom Selleck, became famous during the 1980s. The two met when the future Magnum P.I. store was just getting his start in acting. A few years after their first encounter, they walked down the aisle in May 1971. Ray had a son from a previous marriage who was just a few years old, and Selleck raised him as if he were his own.
Sadly, after 11 years, marital bliss turned sour. In August 1982 the divorce between Tom Selleck and Jacqueline Ray was finalized, and the two went their separate ways. A divorce after 11 years could not have been easy – was Selleck ready to give it another try with Mack?
As it turned out, Selleck decided that he was indeed ready for another romance. On Friday, August 7th, 1987 Selleck and Mack tied the knot and became man and wife. What’s remarkable, the entire wedding was done in total secrecy. The pair had snuck away to Lake Tahoe to get married in a 24 hour chapel, having even made the reservations under false identities.
Even the minister who was conducting the marriage ceremony had no idea of the couple’s true identities until moments before the wedding itself. How could such a high profile wedding been kept so secret? As it turns out, Selleck might have relied on his Magnum P.I. experience to keep the press away.
Actor Tom Selleck was so paranoid that invasive reporters might ruin his and Mack’s special day that he demanded that the wedding be held in total and complete secrecy. Leading up to the wedding the groom-to-be’s brother, Bob, made all the various arrangements under the names of “Tom Jenkins” and “Suzie Mark.”
During the wedding, Selleck made sure that all the photos would be taken with polaroid cameras so that there would be no negatives available for republication in tabloid magazines. But the decision still loomed over how Selleck was going to handle working a full time acting job with a new wife. Shortly after the wedding, the decision became much more complicated.
A year after their wedding, Selleck and Mack welcomed a new baby girl into the family. Their daughter, Hannah Margaret Selleck, was born December 16, 1988 in Los Angeles California. She would be Tom Selleck’s only biological child, even though he still worked to keep a strong relationship with his stepson.
Due to his experience raising his stepson, it was unlikely that the film star turned father would not be able to handle the pressures and responsibilities of being a dad. Even so, in spite of the family’s brand new bundle of joy, Selleck still had a major decision to make.
Long before his successful career began, Selleck had been encouraged by a theater professor at USC to try acting. He had later made his first television appearance as college senior in 1965. It took him around five years after that to land his first movie role and even afterwards, he still struggled as an unfamiliar actor.
It wasn’t until 1980 that Selleck finally got his big break in Magnum P.I. But things had changed now, the now-successful television star had an Emmy and a Golden Globe Award, but also a wife and a child. Would he be willing to give up this success for his new family?
It seems that the loss of his first marriage had changed Selleck’s outlook on life. Whereas before he was married, it appeared that the Magnum P.I. star had been focused primarily on his career, he apparently decided that the glitz and glamour of Hollywood was no longer his primary concern.
Selleck made the major decision to quit the entertainment industry in order to focus on his family. He even packed up everyone’s bags, leaving Beverly Hills and moving to a more humble and remote ranch in Ventura Country. The now-former TV star wanted to provide his daughter with a childhood similar to the one he had. But will he succeed?
Tom Selleck was born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1945, to Robert and Martha Selleck. Robert Selleck was an executive and real estate investor who moved his family to Sherman Oaks, California before Selleck went to high school. His father helped instill in him and his siblings discipline and bought each of them a golden watch in exchange for a promise to stay away from drugs and alcohol.
As a result of his father’s positive influence, the future actor ended up gravitating towards sports. Throughout high school and beyond, Selleck ended up developing interests in volleyball, baseball, and basketball. Early on, it seemed as though Tom Selleck would never be an actor, and was destined to become an athlete.
The Detroit, MI native enjoyed school, and that was mostly due to his athletic prowess. Both strong and well-coordinated, this high school athlete played basketball and baseball. Selleck had dreams of attending USC to study business but would later say that parents couldn’t afford it. So, in order to save money, he went to Valley Junior College which allowed him to live at home.
By junior year, future actor Tom Selleck was given an opportunity to attend his dream university at USC when they offered him a basketball scholarship. While playing ball and attending classes for business management at USC, his fraternity brothers encouraged him to do something which would end up changing his life forever.
Armed with the confidence that his fraternity brothers’ enthusiasm had given him, Selleck became on of the first contestants ever to appear on the popular television show, The Dating Game. The exposure ended up evolving into an actual paid job on a Pepsi commercial. Shortly after, he was approached by Twentieth Century Fox studios with an offer to join their new talent program.
Soon, this rising star was splitting his time between classes at USC during the day and training classes at Fox during the night all while still playing basketball in order to keep his scholarship. But just when Selleck was taking his first footsteps into the Hollywood limelight, the future star was given an unexpected notice.
The year was 1967 and the Vietnam War was raging on. Young men coming out of high school and college were receiving their draft notices to serve their country. Tom Selleck, like many others at the time, was given his draft notice and ended up reporting to the California National Guard to serve in the infantry.
It appeared as though the former Fox talent student had natural leadership ability. During his time in the National Guard, Selleck earned himself the rank of Sergeant and later was given an honorary officers commission. After he was released from the army, Selleck was ready to get right back to work with Fox. But things had changed while he was away.
The entertainment industry can often be a fickle place, and it seems as though this Army National Guard veteran didn’t get the warm welcome back that he might have hoped for after being released from duty. Due to scheduling conflicts between his classes at Fox and his time in the army, Fox decided to cut their ties with Selleck. Now he was back to square one.
However, Selleck appears to be a resilient man. In a speech at an awards ceremony in Washington D.C., the actor once said, “One of the privileges we have in this country is the right to fail.” Selleck wasn’t ready to give up yet, even though his road forward would not be easy.
It took 11 years between when Tom Selleck signed his contract with Fox, to becoming the leading man on Magnum P.I. During that time, he jumped from acting gig to acting gig, working in commercials for deodorant, toothpaste and alcohol companies. He did manage to get his first television appearance in an episode of the 1969 show, Lancer, and his first movie role a year later in Myra Breckinridge.
From those early days at the beginning of the 1970’s until 1980, almost all of his roles consisted of television and film appearances. Things were looking much better after the contract with Magnum P.I. was signed, but shortly after shooting started, it looked like the show was already doomed to fail.
In preparation for filming as Thomas Sullivan Magnum IV, Magnum P.I.’s lead character, Selleck, his then wife Jacqueline Ray, and his stepson, had to relocate to Hawaii. Shortly after getting settled, the show writers began with threats to strike. This was disastrous as Selleck and his family were living on a mere seven dollars an hour that the actor himself earned working for his landlady.
These unfortunate circumstances lasted for six months while the writers and studio executives negotiated. During this time, Selleck was still bound by his contract meaning he couldn’t even accept an offer to play the role of Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark, a role he was initially offered. What happened next however, is something that nobody would have predicted.
In his role as Thomas Sullivan Magnum, Selleck got an opportunity to draw on his time as a military leader in the California National Guard. The character Magnum, was also a former military man. A Navy SEAL with Vietnam experience who went on to serve as a U.S. Navy Officer in military intelligence.
Selleck’s portrayal of this grizzled veteran was a pivotal moment in television history since it was one of the few shows portraying former soldiers after the Vietnam War in a positive light. Selleck’s acting earned him a Primetime Emmy Award in 1984, and a Golden Globe Award the following year. But even after he left Magnum P.I. to be with his family years later, Selleck’s career was far from over.
Post-Magnum P.I., Selleck focused primarily on taking care of his family. But that didn’t mean he was hanging up his acting hat forever- far from it. He appeared in ten episodes on season two of hit show Friends, playing the role of Ross and Monica’s parents’ friend, who eventually ends up going out with Monica.
Since then, the former Magnum P.I. accepted a role in the 1998 sitcom The Closer, the NBC’s 2007 drama Las Vegas, and three years later in 2010 took the role as Police Commissioner Frank Reagan in the CBS series, Blue Bloods. According to several sources, he nearly accepted the main role in the hit show Baywatch, but had learned early on the pitfalls of being a Hollywood sex symbol. But what exactly did he learn?
In spite of the opportunity to play Mitchell “Mitch” Buchannon, a role which eventually was given to fellow actor David Hasselhoff, Selleck seemed to decide that he didn’t want to spend too much time around sought after women other than his wife. He even agreed to avoid his neighbor, who was none other than Italian film actress, Sophia Loren. His wife agreed to give him a free pass with her under extremely specific circumstances.
He explained during an interview with The Telegraph, “If I was on my way to Home Depot and she was out on the driveway in her bathrobe and she said exactly these words: ‘Thomason would you like a cappuccino?’ I could go in.” Selleck’s devotion to his wife was only matched by his devotion to his work.
Tom Selleck was known for being an absolute workhorse on set. The actor was an incredibly hard worker according to Larry Manetti, another actor on Magnum P.I. who played the role of Magnum’s sidekick, Rick Wright. Once Magnum P.I. ended, Manetti went on to write a book about his experiences on the show called Aloha Magnum.
In his book, the former co-star went on to describe the Magnum P.I. star as being incredibly down to earth. According to the autobiography, he was very reliable, never demanding of anyone, and never acted like a diva on set. But one thing was more important to Selleck than anything.
In regards to himself, Selleck describes himself as displaying a strong sense of ethics. That meant that when it came time to decide what to put first, family or career, Selleck picked family. When asked about it in an interview with the New York Daily News, the actor said, “Jillie and I have a pretty good partnership. We don’t do anything or make any decisions without consulting each other.”
He always seems to put his daughter and his wife first, and refuses to spend too much time in the Hollywood spotlight, no doubt understanding the negative effect it can have on one’s life after too much time. Selleck not only looks after his family, he also gives back to his community.
Tom Selleck has remained close to the veteran community ever since he served in the California National Guard. In 2009, the former military veteran joined the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund as the national spokesman for the new Education Center being built on the National Mall. In regards to his service, Selleck has said, “I am a veteran, I’m proud of it. I was a sergeant in the U.S. Army Infantry, National Guard, Vietnam era.”
The Education Center is a project developed by the Memorial Fund as a way to help the innumerable visitors learn about the Vietnam War. Selleck, having been drafted at the time of the war, was a big supporter of the project. In spite of his fame and wealth, it seems that Tom Selleck has remained a down-to-earth family man and a supporter of his country and community.
Sources: People , New York Daily News, IMDB