Hunky heartthrob Tom Selleck played the role of Magnum, PI in the long-running CBS series, a gay reporter in the movie In & Out, and General Dwight D. Eisenhower in a TV biopic; but one role he declines to play is that of a Hollywood conservative.
“I prefer libertarian,” he told the Chicago Tribune in an August 10, 2000 interview, after the newspaper noted that Selleck was usually identified as a conservative.
Selleck further distanced himself from the conservative label in an article on National Review Online (May 29, 2004). “I’m a registered independent with a lot of libertarian leanings,” he said. However, he’s an independent who supports a surprisingly minimalistic government: “I think we should have stoplights, fire departments, and [a] strategic missile defense,” he said.
When a Cigar is More than a Cigar
Selleck gave perhaps the most expansive explanation of his political beliefs in an interview with Cigar Aficionado magazine (December 1995). Here’s what he had to say…
• On the common good: “The 20th century has been a collectivist century. We’ve had this global experiment, and we’re starting to see the end of the chain letter. I say let’s try new things. It’s just time to reassess things and say that maybe this idea of the common good has to be translated through the individual.”
• On the antismoking movement: “Solutions to problems in a free society are messy. There are no magic bullets, no bumper-sticker solutions. If we want an authoritarian state, we can continue to do the kind of stuff we’re doing now about smoking.”
• On solving society’s problems: “We all agree we need to solve social problems. My leanings tend toward individualist solutions.”
An Individual Supporter
Selleck has contributed his time to organizations that work for “individualist solutions.” He served as honorary chairman of the Skin Cancer Foundation and is a volunteer for the Los Angeles Mission, which helps homeless people while rejecting federal financial aid. He was national co-spokesperson for the Character Counts Coalition, which seeks to educate young people about the importance of such traits as trustworthiness, responsibility, caring and respect.
A longtime supporter of gun rights, Selleck appeared in a TV ad for the National Rifle Association (NRA) in 1999. That decision ended up generating headlines after he was verbally attacked by Rosie O’Donnell on her daytime talk show for being pro-gun. On the show, Selleck defended his beliefs, and said, “…the Second Amendment, and all of the Bill of Rights, are extremely important and somebody needs to stand up at times [when] some of our politicians are demagogueing issues.”
The tall, buff actor (who was once named by People magazine as one of the 50 most beautiful people in the world) got his start in low-budget movies like Daughters of Satan (1972) and on the TV soap opera The Young and the Restless (1974-75). In 1980, he hit the big time when he was cast as the crime-solving, Ferarri-driving private investigator Thomas Sullivan Magnum on the CBS series, Magnum, PI. The show ran for 162 episodes, from 1980 to 1988.
Selleck parlayed that TV success into a movie career that included popular films like High Road to China (1983), Three Men and a Baby (1988), Three Men and a Little Lady (1990), Mr. Baseball (1992), and In & Out (1997). Famously, he was also Steven Spielberg’s first choice for Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark, but couldn’t fit it into his Magnum, PI shooting schedule.
In the late ’90s, Selleck’s career was rekindled thanks to a supporting role as Dr. Richard Burke on the hit NBC sitcom, Friends. In 2004, he starred in the critically acclaimed A&E film, Ike: Countdown to D-Day. The Christian Science Monitor said Selleck was “terrific in the role” of Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower.
“I’m a registered independent with a lot of libertarian leanings.” — Tom Selleck on National Review Online (May 29, 2004)