For some people, having to pick between their quiet family life and a successful career can be the hardest decision to make. For Tom Selleck, however, it was quite easy.
For the world, there is no one who can play the role of Magnum P.I. better than the iconic Tom Selleck. His charisma, good lucks, and amazing talent will only leave you wanting more no matter how many times you watch him on screen. But while we may have enjoyed his acting, for the actor himself, fame and his career come second to something else — his family.
When he was achieving peak fame with memorable roles like the patriarch of the Reagan family on the TV show, Blue Bloods, it never stopped him from making sure there is a proper balance between work and home. “I’m a fairly private person,” the father-of-two (son with his first wife), 75, told People recently. “And I’ve always treasured the balance between work and time with my family. It’s always about them.”
“My relationships and my ranch keep me sane," he added. And it was a major decision that he made in 1988 that helped him forge relationships strong enough to keep him steady. And one of those was with his wife. When Selleck tied the knot with Jillie Mack in 1987, he was at the peak of his career.
He was in high demand due to Magnum P.I. and was named People's Sexiest Man in the World to boot. But none of that mattered when it came to his family. He had already made the mistake of remaining in the spotlight with his first marriage which failed because of the scrutiny of the media. So this time, when he found Mack, Selleck knew he had to protect his marriage from the prying cameras. That meant making the seemingly tough decision to choose between his booming career or a chance at nurturing his love and family.
While some might think the actor was faced with a tough choice, it was quite easy for Selleck, who picked his family. A year after his marriage, the couple had had a girl and they decided they wanted to be able to dedicate their time to her. So they moved to a 65-acre ranch in Ventura County, California, and the actor quit his hit show.
"I quit Magnum to have a family," he told People in 2012. "It took a long time to get off the train, but I try very hard to have balance, and this ranch has helped me do that." "We both thought it was the best environment for [Hannah] to grow up," Mack added.
In the recent People interview, he also added that he realized fame could be quite stifling. “I knew intellectually what it would mean in terms of being a public person, but until you’ve lived it, there’s no way to understand it,” says Selleck. “I had a feeling of, ‘I don’t think I’m cut out for this.’" Ultimately, “I quit Magnum, not because I didn’t like it or I was tired of it,” he explained. “I was tired from it. And I wanted a three-dimensional life because I didn’t have one.” Hence came his self-imposed hiatus with his family.
Over time, however, the actor started to return to his profession, though it took years. Initially, Selleck found he “didn’t like what I was being offered.” He added, “I put up with the articles that said he’s disappeared, he’s done. And you do get done, I’m well aware of that. It was a big lull, but it put a lot of things in perspective.” But with patience came better roles like that in F.R.I.E.N.D.S., Three Men and a Little Lady, Killers and The Closer.
Soon he found his way back into the spotlight, especially after he landed the role in Blue Bloods.
But no amount of fame has ever distracted him from making his family his top priority. During his time away from the film industry, he learned important lessons. The first was about his relationship with his wife. "It's important to nurture your marriage," Selleck said. "I think wanting time away from work has been good for that."
But this break also taught him how to bond with his daughter, Hannah. Talking to CBS Local, the actor recalled that while shooting for TV series and films decades ago, he chose books to read to his daughter. However, he only read those that showed the father as the good guy. “I read to her all the time when she was little, and I said ‘Hannah, I’m not going to read these to you.’ She said ‘Why daddy?’ I said because the dad’s always an idiot,” he said.
This dad isn't an idiot though. He still prioritizes his family and he's happy with where he is in his life right now. “I’m proud of my work, I still love what I do, and I have my family,” says Selleck. “I’ve been enormously fortunate.”