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Tom Selleck reveals how his daughter's health scare impacted his career: 'It wasn't worth it'

The Blue Bloods star shares daughter Hannah with wife Jillie, and son Kevin with ex-wife Jacqueline Ray

Ahad Sanwari
Ahad Sanwari - New York
Senior WriterNew York
21 April 2024
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Tom Selleck has been a mainstay of the entertainment industry for over four decades, first rocketing into heartthrob status in the early '80s for his leading role in Magnum P.I.

In a new interview with People, the actor, 79, reflected on the early trappings of fame and how his desire to take on as many roles as possible conflicted with his wish to stay home and be a parent.

Tom shares his son Kevin, 57, with his ex-wife Jacqueline Ray. He married actress Jillie Mack in 1987 and they welcomed their daughter Hannah, now 35, in December 1988.

He told the publication that he took a break from acting in the late '80s-early '90s when his daughter, who was still a child, developed viral pneumonia and was hospitalized. "I got off that train."

The star was slated to shoot 1992's Christopher Columbus: The Discovery in Spain at the time, opposite Marlon Brando. "I had agreed to do the picture because Marlon Brando was in it," he recalled. 

"I missed all the rehearsal and everything. We got Hannah home, and then I went, but I didn't like that." He even confessed that despite getting the chance to develop a friendship with the his veteran co-star, the experience was not worth leaving his family and ailing daughter behind.

Tom Selleck as the titular investigator in the television series 'Magnum, P.I.', circa 1985. He is posing with his red Ferrari 308.© Getty Images
The star took a break from his acting career soon after concluding "Magnum P.I."

"But it wasn't worth it. It was never going to be worth it," Tom opined. "And I said, this is crazy. I quit Magnum really, to have a family, and now I'm jumping at every movie that comes along."

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After his break stretched on for nearly three years, he found further success in the later part of the decade, including his recurring stint on the hit NBC sitcom Friends playing Dr. Richard Burke. 

Tom Selleck with his wife Jillie, daughter Hannah and son Kevin© Getty Images
Tom shares daughter Hannah with wife Jillie and son Kevin with ex Jacqueline

"I think I've been a good dad," he reflected. "But you always think you missed opportunities. I mean, when it comes right down to it, in our business the work comes first. You find a way to make that compatible, but…"

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However, he has since found much more satisfaction with steadier work, including his stint on the hit CBS procedural drama Blue Bloods, which comes to an end this fall after 14 seasons. He has played Commissioner Frank Reagan since the show's 2010 inception and stars alongside Donnie Walhberg, Bridget Moynahan, and Will Estes.

Tom Selleck with wife Jillie and daughter Hannah© Getty Images
"I said, this is crazy. I quit Magnum really, to have a family, and now I'm jumping at every movie that comes along."

He gushed to the publication about spending his days on his 63-acre California ranch and avocado farm with his wife, reading scripts after stints of filming in New York and finding more time to relax.

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"I'm one of the last guys to see it, and I'm a good editor," he said of poring over scripts, and shared that on the days where he had less going on, he chose "a cigar and a glass of whiskey" as "a nice way to end the day." 

Nothing Sacred  Reagan family tensions run high when Frank and his grandson, Joe Hill (Will Hochman), contend with a grievous insult to the memory of Joes father, Joe Reagan. Also, Erin and Henry work together to bust an over-the-phone scammer targeting the elderly; Danny intervenes in an undercover assignment led by his spiraling former partner; and Eddies captain takes suspicious interest in her efforts to locate a stolen puppy, on BLUE BLOODS, Friday, Jan. 6 (10:00-11:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Will Hochman returns as Joe Hill and Bonnie Somerville guest stars as Joes mother, Paula Hill. Episode directed by Bridget Moynahan. Pictured: Will Hochman as Joe Hill and Tom Selleck as Frank Reagan.© Getty Images
His latest work, "Blue Bloods," comes to a close after season 14

"I've had a very good life, a very lucky life. I don’t know if it's what I figured I'd be doing, but it's with a lot of gratitude."

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