Things That Bring Back Memories – “Magnum P.I.” #MondayMemories 27

Things That Bring Back Memories

For this week’s “Things That Bring Back Memories” post, I am going to pick something in the topic of “TELEVISION” and go with “Magnum P.I.“.  This television show started in 1980 and was over in 1988.  It’s one that I remember watching often, and has one of those themes that still today, you know after just a few notes!!  Seeing this young “mustache” man was always fun, even before he was the poster on most people’s walls!!  The show had good stories, and always a fun side to them, that made you love the characters and situations.

Magnum P.I.” really let you know that the cops and private investigators were just real people, in a sense.  Now the ones I knew didn’t have a car like this one, or was able to wear a uniform like Magnum did, though!  All in all, it was a great series.

For those of you, who are either too young, or just don’t remember it, here’s a video of “Magnum P.I.” intro:

“Magnum P.I.” is one that most people from the 1970’s and 1980’s will remember.  Great action stories, how good friends work together and getting to see a tricked out car and driver do their job!

So, did you ever watch this show when you were younger? or have you seen it on TV later in life?  Let me know what you thought of it, and if you have any memories of it in your life!


More Info on the Television Series:

Magnum, P.I. is an American television series starring Tom Selleck as Thomas Magnum, a private investigator living on Oahu, Hawaii. The series ran from 1980 to 1988 in first-run broadcast on the American CBS television network.

According to the Nielsen ratings, Magnum, P.I. consistently ranked in the top twenty U.S. television programs during the first five years that the series was originally broadcast in the United States.  It has had a lasting impact and is currently aired in syndication on Cozi TV.

Private Investigator Thomas Sullivan Magnum resides in the guest house of a posh, 200-acre beachfront estate, known as Robin’s Nest, in Hawaii, at the invitation of its owner, Robin Masters, the celebrated-but-never-seen author of several dozen lurid novels. Ostensibly this is quid pro quo for Magnum’s services based upon Magnum’s expertise in security; the pilot and several early episodes suggest Magnum also did Masters a favor of some kind, possibly when Masters hired him for a case. The voice of Robin Masters, heard only a few times per season, was provided by Orson Welles (one last “appearance” was provided by a different actor, Reid Crandell).


With Magnum living a luxurious life on the Estate and operating as a P.I. on cases that suit him, the only thorn in the side of this near-perfect lifestyle on the Estate, is Jonathan Quayle Higgins III (played by Texas-born veteran actor John Hillerman), an ex-British Army Sergeant Major, a (on the surface) stern, “by-the-book” ex-soldier whose strict ways usually conflict with Magnum’s much more easy-going methods. He patrols Robin’s Nest with his two highly trained “lads”, Doberman Pinschers, Zeus and Apollo. Often as a humorous aside during various episodes of the series, Magnum must bargain with Higgins for use of estate amenities other than the guest house and the Ferrari 308 GTS (e.g., tennis courts, wine cellar, expensive cameras). The relationship between Magnum and Higgins was initially that almost of a “friendly nemesis”, but as the series progressed over the seasons, an unspoken respect and fondness of sorts grew between the pair, and as such, many episodes dedicated more screen time to this “odd couple” pairing after the relationship proved popular with fans.

A recurrent theme throughout the last two seasons (starting in the episode “Paper War”) involves Magnum’s suspicion that Higgins is actually Robin Masters since he opens Robin’s mail, calls Robin’s Ferrari “his car”, etc. This possibility is contradictory to numerous references throughout the series’ earlier run (e.g., phone calls from abroad; the fact that Robin is recognized by famous people). Although the three of them have been together before, Magnum is convinced that Higgins hired an actor to play Robin Masters (a short rotund guy with an Orson Welles voice, as Magnum puts it).

Aside from Higgins, Magnum’s two other main cohorts on the islands are Theodore “T.C.” Calvin (Roger E. Mosley), who runs local helicopter charter service Island Hoppers – and so often finds himself persuaded by Magnum to fly him during various cases; and Rick Wright (Larry Manetti) (who refuses to use his birth name, Orville), who owns a local bar. In the Pilot, this magnumwas “Rick’s Place” in town, inspired by Casablanca, with Rick appearing in suitable 1930’s attire. However, after completion of the Pilot, executives on the series felt that audiences would be unable to fully connect with this element, and instead Rick moved to running the plush beachside King Kamehameha Club – which has exclusive membership and Higgins on the board of directors, and yet Magnum often strolls around, using the facilities and running up an ever unpaid tab, further fueling the Magnum / Higgins feud. T.C. and Rick are both former Marines from VMO-2 with whom Magnum served in the Vietnam War.  The series was one of the first to deal with Vietnam veterans as “human beings” and not as shell-shocked killers, and was praised by many ex-servicemen groups for doing so. Magnum often dupes, tricks or bribes T.C. and Rick into aiding him in various ways on the cases he works on, much to their frustration, though the deep friendship between the group, including Higgins, proved to be one of the key elements of the series over its eight-season run.

Magnum lives a dream lifestyle: he comes and goes as he pleases, works only when he wants to, has the almost unlimited use of a Ferrari 308 GTS Quattrovalvole as well as many other of Robin Masters’ luxuries. He keeps a mini-fridge with a seemingly endless supply of beer (“Old Dusseldorf in a long neck”), wears his father’s treasured Rolex GMT Master wristwatch, is surrounded by countless beautiful women (who are often victims of crime, his clients or connected in various other ways to the cases he solves). Other characteristics specific to Magnum are his thick mustache, a Detroit Tigers baseball cap, a rubber chicken, and a variety of colorful Aloha shirts.


Nearly every episode is narrated, in voice-over, by Magnum at various points; and Magnum and Higgins often break the fourth wall by locking eyes with or, occasionally, directly addressing the audience; other characters also do this, though less frequently.

At the end of the seventh season, Magnum was to be killed off, which was intended to end the series. The final episode of the season, “Limbo”, after seeing Magnum wander around as a ghost for nearly the entire run-time, closes with him appearing to walk off into heaven. However, following outcry from fans, who demanded a more satisfactory conclusion, an eighth, final season was produced, to bring Magnum “back to life”, and to round the series off.  A number of other episodes also make reference to supernatural occurrences and the seeming existence of ghosts.

The show also recognized the existence of the fictional elite police unit that appeared in the series Hawaii Five-O. In the pilot episode, Magnum references the unit’s chief McGarrett by name. This was a tribute to the long-running show starring Jack Lord, that ran on CBS from the fall of 1968 through to the summer of 1980—to be replaced, in essence, in the fall of 1980 by Magnum, P.I.. The successor series to Hawaii Five-O, Hawaii Five-0, paid tribute to Magnum, P.I. when in the 2013 episode “Hoa Pili” the cast referenced the show Magnum, P.I. as they were flying over the island in a helicopter to the sound of the Magnum, P.I. theme.


Some of the Characters:

magnumTom Selleck (Thomas Magnum)  is an American actor and film producer, known for his starring role as Hawaii-based private investigator “Thomas Magnum” on the 1980’s television series, Magnum, P.I. (1980).  Selleck was born on January 29, 1945 in Detroit, Michigan, to Martha S. (Jagger), a homemaker, and Robert Dean Selleck, a real estate investor and executive. He is of mostly English descent, including recent immigrant ancestors.  Selleck has appeared extensively on television in roles such as “Dr. Richard Burke” on Friends (1994) and “A.J. Cooper” on Las Vegas (2003). In addition to his series work, Selleck has appeared in more than fifty made-for-TV and general release movies, including Mr. Baseball (1992), Quigley Down Under (1990), Lassiter (1984) and, his most successful movie release, 3 Men and a Baby (1987), which was the highest grossing movie in 1987.  Selleck also plays “Jesse Stone” in a series of made-for-TV movies, based on the Robert B. Parker novels. In 2010, he appears as “Commissioner Frank Reagan” in the drama series, Blue Bloods (2010) on CBS.

magnumJohn Hillerman (Johnathan Higgins III) was born in Denison, Texas, the son of German Americans Christopher Benedict Hillerman, a gas station owner, and Lenora Joan (Medlinger).  His father was the grandson of immigrants from Germany and France. His mother was the daughter of immigrants from Austria and Germany. Young Hillerman grew up in Denison and attended St. Xavier’s Academy.  After graduation, he attended the University of Texas at Austin for three years where he majored in journalism.  In 1953, he joined the United States Air Force, serving for four years and achieving the rank of Sergeant. During his years of military service, he worked with various theatrical groups, and on his discharge he moved to New York City to study at the American Theatre Wing. In 1957, he began his career in professional theater.  He is an actor, known for Magnum, P.I. (1980), Chinatown (1974) and Blazing Saddles (1974). Hillerman retired in 1999, and now resides in his home state of Texas.

magnumRoger Mosley (Theodore “T.C.” Calvin) was born December 18, 1938 in Los Angeles, CA.  He is an American actor, director and writer best known for his role as the helicopter pilot on the television series, Magnum, P.I.  He grew up in the Imperial Courts project with his mother Eloise Harris in Watts. In 1974, he founded the Watts Repertory Company.  Mosley is a licensed private helicopter pilot in real life but when on the set of Magnum P.I., he wasn’t allowed to do his own stunts. A pilot wearing a body stocking with muscles would be used instead.  In 2013 at the HAI Heli-Expo in Las Vegas, a ceremony for the restored MD 500D helicopter was held. Both Mosley and fellow Magnum P.I. co-star Larry Manetti autographed the nose of the helicopter.  He was married in 1960 to Saundra Locke and had 2 children with her.  His daughter is Ch-a Mosley. She co-founded the Las Vegas based organization with Nana Rush, daughter of veteran NBA Referee Eddie F. Rush.

magnumLarry Manetti (Orville “Rick” Wright) was born on July 23, 1947 in Chicago, Illinois, USA. He is an actor and producer, known for Magnum, P.I. (1980), Black Sheep Squadron (1976) and Cool Money (2005). He has been married to Nancy DeCarl since February 19, 1980. They have one child.  Manetti studied acting in Chicago with the Ted List Players. His first television role was as a young detective in Jack Webb’s Chase (1973–74).  Since July 2011, Larry and Nancy Manetti have hosted a weekly radio program on CRN Digital Talk Radio Networks.  It was announced on January 24, 2013 that Manetti had joined CBS’s revived version of Hawaii Five-0 in the recurring role of “Nicky ‘The Kid’ Demarco”. The character is described as “a local lounge legend … [who], back in the day, was mentored by the one and only Frank Sinatra.”

Did You Know?

Magnum was a Vietnam War Veteran. At the time the series began, the war and it’s aftermath was still very much a controversial issue. Magnum (along with TC and Rick) have been cited as among the first positive portrayals of Vietnam Veterans on a Network TV series.

At some point during the run of the series, Magnum has the distinction of being punched, at least once, by each one of his friends: Higgins, Rick, and T.C. However, Magnum never struck any of them at any time.

When Frank Sinatra agreed to do a guest part on the show, producers sent Sinatra a list of story ideas they were considering and Sinatra chose the idea he wanted to do. The story he chose was called “Laura” and it ran during the seventh season.

Tom Selleck is a big Detroit Tigers baseball fan. Several episodes feature references to the Tigers. When they won the World Series during the run of the show, tentative plans were made to film an episode in the Detroit area but those plans were scrapped.

In the “Autumn Warrior” episode, one of the party guests opens the door of the fridge and you can see behind the set instead of looking into the fridge.

Producers eventually wanted Orson Welles to be revealed as Robin Masters, but he died before the series ended its run.

Throughout the series, it was made clear that TC abstained from drinking alcohol. Oddly enough, a scene of him in the pilot raising a bottle of beer was shown for many seasons during the opening credits.

Aside from his trademark Detroit Tigers cap, Magnum could also be seen wearing a ball cap with the name Da Nang. The name and logo on the cap were those of Da Nang Air Base, a US Military complex located in Vietnam during the war. TC was frequently depicted wearing a Da Nang ball cap as well.




Thanks for stopping by today.  Please be sure to leave a comment, if this show meant something to you, too.  Or to just let me know what you think of the story in this post!   TigerStrypes claims no credit for any images used on this post, unless otherwise noted.  Images in this post are copyright to their respectful owners. If there is an image appearing on this blog that belongs to you and do not wish for it appear on this site, please email us with a link to said image and it will be promptly removed.  Thanks and have a great day!!

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Karen Eidson
8 years ago

I remember watching that show. Although I don’t remember as much as you do, it was a pretty good show. And Tom Selleck was pretty nice to look at, too.

Jasbir { A cuppa for my thoughts}

Ahhh. This brings back a lot memories. His lovely dimple.

8 years ago

My parents watched this all the time! I remember having to sit and watch it too, haha one tv and all. Interesting facts

8 years ago

Oh my gosh, this does bring back memories. I used to watch Magnum P.I. with my mom and dad all the time. Along with Knight Rider and the A-Team. Such good programming. 😉

8 years ago

I so remember this show! I love it so much. I’ll be honest, I love shows like this from my childhood so much better than most of what’s on now. They just don’t make shows like they used to anymore!

8 years ago

I haven’t watched an episode of Magnum P.I. in soooo long! I love it when my kids stumble across shows like this. They get hooked for weeks!

8 years ago

My mother loved this show. Sometimes I’d sit with her and watch it. In fact I just saw a rerun of it the other night

Sara P. (@SensiblySara)

I’ve never seen Magnum P.I. but I love Tom Selleck so I’m sure I’d enjoy the show! I wonder if it’s on Netflix!?

Elizabeth @ being mvp
8 years ago

I’ve never watched this series. However, I think it’s one of my husband’s favorite shows from the past!

Liz Mays
8 years ago

I certainly remember this show, that car! Gosh this was so popular. I wonder if I would remember any episodes.

Andrea Kruse
8 years ago

Magnum and Higgins were such classic characters! Though I was more a Dukes of Hazard, Remington Steele and The A-Team kinda kid, I did watch plenty of Magnum P.I. growing up. I still think the 80’s shows were the best.

Shop with Me Mama (Kim)

Oh my! I have not seen this in ages! Totally brings back the memories!

8 years ago

It has been so long!! I need to watch this show again. I bet that it is even better now that years have gone by. 🙂

Robin Rue (@massholemommy)
Robin Rue (@massholemommy)
8 years ago

OMG, I had the BIGGEST crush on him back in the day. The crazy thing about him is that he never ages, so he still looks great.