Magnum P.I. is an American crime drama television series that originally aired from 1980 to 1988. The show followed the adventures of private investigator Thomas Magnum (played by Tom Selleck) as he worked cases on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. The show was a huge hit during its original run and has since become a cult classic.
One of the biggest controversies during the show’s run was the ongoing feud between Selleck and the show’s creator and executive producer, Donald P. Bellisario. According to reports, Bellisario was unhappy with Selleck’s diva-like behavior on set, including frequently showing up late and demanding rewrites of scripts. This led to tension between the two, and in 1983, Selleck was temporarily replaced with actor Ted Danson for three episodes.
Another controversy involved the show’s portrayal of Hawaiian culture. Despite being set in Hawaii, many locals criticized the show for its lack of authenticity and perpetuating stereotypes. The show was also criticized for its treatment of native Hawaiians, with some accusing the writers of portraying them as unintelligent and uneducated.
Behind the scenes, the show was known for its high production values and attention to detail. The iconic red Ferrari that Magnum drove, for example, was actually a replica made by a company called “P.I. Productions,” as the real Ferrari 308 GTS was not practical for filming. The show also used real helicopters and airplanes for its aerial shots, which was rare for television at the time.
Another interesting fact about the show is that many of the actors who appeared on it went on to have successful careers in Hollywood. John Hillerman, who played Magnum’s sidekick Higgins, won an Emmy for his performance and went on to appear in films such as “Blazing Saddles” and “Chinatown.” Other notable guest stars on the show included Sharon Stone, Morgan Fairchild, and Cynthia Gibb.
Despite the show’s popularity, there were many behind-the-scenes secrets that fans were unaware of. Here are some of the most interesting secrets about Magnum P.I.
- The iconic mustache was almost shaved off: Tom Selleck was asked to shave off his mustache for his role in the film “Her Alibi.” However, the show’s producers refused to allow it as the mustache had become an integral part of his character’s look.
- The show was nearly cancelled after the first season: Despite its eventual popularity, the show was not an instant hit. In fact, it was almost cancelled after its first season due to low ratings. However, it was saved by a letter-writing campaign from fans who loved the show.
- There was a real Robin Masters: In the show, Robin Masters was a famous author who owned the estate where Magnum lived. However, the identity of Robin Masters was never revealed. According to show creator Donald P. Bellisario, Robin Masters was based on a real person who owned a mansion in Hawaii.
- The famous Ferrari wasn’t actually a Ferrari: The car that Magnum drove on the show was a 1979 Ferrari 308 GTS. However, the car used for the show was actually a kit car based on a DeTomaso Pantera.
- The cast is still active in Hollywood: While Tom Selleck has continued to have a successful acting career since Magnum P.I. ended, other cast members have also continued to work in Hollywood. John Hillerman, who played Higgins, passed away in 2017. Roger E. Mosley, who played TC, has appeared in several TV shows and movies, while Larry Manetti, who played Rick, has worked as a TV host and has made guest appearances on various shows.
Despite its success, Magnum P.I. faced challenges in its later seasons. Ratings began to decline, and Selleck’s contract negotiations became increasingly difficult. In 1988, the show was canceled after eight seasons.
While it’s been over 30 years since the last episode of Magnum P.I. aired, the show’s popularity has endured. From the show’s iconic mustache to the real-life inspiration behind Robin Masters, these behind-the-scenes secrets have only added to the show’s mystique. And while some cast members are no longer with us, others continue to work in Hollywood, proving that the legacy of Magnum P.I. lives on.