Five Facts You Likely Never Knew About ‘Magnum P.I.’

It was the series that made Tom Selleck and his mustache two of the biggest stars in the world of American television

by Zachary Leeman | Updated 30 Oct 2017 at 11:05 AM

Few characters have made a mark on the small screen as significant as that of Thomas Magnum, the Hawaii-based private investigator at the center of “Magnum P.I.” — played by the legendary king of mustaches, Tom Selleck.

Running for 158 episodes (from 1980 to 1988), “Magnum P.I.” today remains one of the most popular programs ever to air. Talk of reboots and remakes has never ceased, and Selleck typically can’t leave an interview without hearing a compliment or question regarding the iconic role.

From the mustache to the Hawaiian shirts to the cars to everything in between, "Magnum P.I." was the perfect '80s program. However, despite being so connected to that decade in style and format, it's a show that will never fully die. Selleck and his famous mustache still remain a significant part of pop culture and will likely never lose that place.

Since CBS has now reportedly given the go-ahead for a reboot, it may be the perfect time to take a look back at the original version of the show.

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Here's a look at five facts about "Magnum P.I." you likely never knew.

1.) Orson Welles played a key role. Welles is mostly known as the filmmaker behind what many critics believe to be the greatest film of all time, "Citizen Kane."

However, Welles' filmography is quite vast and somewhat confusing. He was famous for taking on roles in commercials and films later in life simply for the paycheck — and "P.I." was probably no different.

Welles provided the voice of Robin Masters, the mysterious owner of Robin's Nest, the expansive and expensive place that Thomas Magnum called home. Welles never appeared on camera, and an ongoing fan theory was that the house's chief steward, Higgins, played by John Hillerman, was actually Masters' character.

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2.) Sinatra had a final screen role. The last acting role of the legendary crooner Frank Sinatra was that of a retired New York City cop who needs Magnum's help in finding his granddaughter's killers.

The episode aired in 1987 during the show's seventh season, and the teaming of Selleck and Sinatra was incredibly popular with audiences. Sinatra spoke in interviews afterward about a possible return to the series or a buddy cop picture in which he and Selleck would star. Neither came to fruition. The show ended in 1988 and Sinatra passed away in 1998.

3.) Magnum P.I. had its own universe. Before Marvel or DC ever created their interconnected cinematic universes, shows like "Magnum P.I." were normalizing the ideas of crossovers and fictional worlds for non-comic book readers.

"Magnum" did crossovers with both "Simon & Simon" and "Murder, She Wrote." As strange as the latter crossover may have seemed in concept, it was a ratings boost for "Magnum" in its seventh season.

The plot began on "Magnum P.I." and concluded on "Murder, She Wrote." Jessica Fletcher (played by the great Angela Lansbury) made her way down to Hawaii to solve a string of murders and received the help of Thomas Magnum. It was an odd pairing — but audiences loved it.

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3.) Tom Clancy nearly wrote the movie. A "Magnum P.I." film has been rumored for decades. Selleck has actually been behind the idea in the past. He even went so far as to develop ideas for a movie franchise with the late author Tom Clancy, the writer behind the popular Jack Ryan novels.

Selleck told Yahoo TV in 2013 about the proposed movies:

It's been a weird progression with "Magnum." Tom Clancy is a huge "Magnum" fan. In the early '90s, he'd done a couple of wildly successful movie adaptations of his books. We got together, and I went to Universal, and I said, "It's time we could do a series of feature films." They were very interested, and I had Tom, who wanted to do the story, and I had this package put together, but Universal's the only studio that could make it, and they went through three ownership changes in the '90s, and I think that was the real window for "Magnum." If they did a "Magnum" movie, I think it's been pretty clear — because I've heard rumors there were scripts and all — I don't think they see me doing it.

A film is unlikely to happen now, especially with Selleck, since a television reboot is moving full-steam ahead at CBS. It is a shame, though. How cool would a "Magnum" movie franchise have been with Selleck and Clancy behind it?

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4.) Magnum almost had a different car. Porsche was originally going to be the model of choice for the show, but the company reportedly refused to make modifications to its cars, which were needed, due to Selleck's six-foot-four-inch height.

Ferrari ended up being the brand of choice, which worked well, since the 308 GTS vehicle Magnum drove around in was nearly as popular with fans as he was.

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