Magnum, P.I. was originally broadcast from 1980 to 1988 on CBS network. Starring Tom Selleck as the private investigator Thomas Magnum whose escapades took place among the lush Hawaiian landscape, Magnum, P.I. was a success in the ratings and made Selleck a household name. It was a great moment in American TV as audiences witnessed Thomas Magnum breaking the conventional action hero mold – dressed in colorful Hawaiian shirts on a daily basis at that – but without sacrificing the suave and smooth demeanor like most leading men.
Here are the other facts about Magnum, P.I. that only a few of us probably knew:
1. The Hawaii Five-O connection
Hawaii Five-O had been a big hit for CBS, but after 12 years on the air the show would finally bid farewell in the summer of 1980. With the series taking its final bow, CBS was looking for a replacement show that should be filmed in Hawaii because they still wanted to use their Hawaiian production offices. So many of Magnum, P.I.’s indoor scenes were also shot inside the old Hawaii Five-O‘s sound stage.
2. Playing Thomas Magnum cost Tom Selleck the role of Indiana Jones
Harrison Ford will always be remembered as Indiana Jones. But the part almost went to Selleck as he was the top choice for the playing the swashbuckling archaeologist Indy. Unfortunately, his contractual obligations to Magnum, P.I. prevented him from taking the role.
As if fate was somewhat unkind to him, the 1980 writers strike subsequently followed which delayed the taping of Magnum, P.I.’s first season, which was originally scheduled to begin in March that year. It means that Selleck was now free to accept the role of Indiana Jones – but they already had Harrison Ford in the helm and production of the film had already been underway. Magnum, P.I. didn’t begin production until autumn of that year.
3. The hit theme music
A big part of Magnum, P.I.’s success was credited to its theme music, which was composed by Mike Post. It peaked at #25 on the Billboard pop chart, which was a rare feat for a TV theme music.
4. A customized Ferrari
Tom Selleck, who stood 6’4”, was supposed to drive a Porsche. But he was too tall to fit in the luxurious automobile and Porsche didn’t want to customize it to conform to his towering physique. Thus, he had to drive a Ferrari instead – but not without the car undergoing some modifications. First, the padding had to be removed from the seats, so that he could sit comfortably in the car. The seats were re-positioned far enough away from the steering wheel so that he could have more leg room.
5. Crossover episodes
Crossover episodes have been a time-honored practice for studios, but they are not without some complications (and strangeness). Magnum, P.I. pulled off a couple of crossover episodes: one with Murder, She Wrote and another one with Simon, Simon. At the time these three series were broadcast simultaneously, and producers devised these crossovers in their attempt to increase viewership.
6. Mr. Moustache
Tom Selleck is known for many things, but he is most famous for his moustache. So iconic is his facial hair that it got inducted to the Moustache Hall of Fame (and yes, that really exists).
7. The Hawaiian shirt
Apart from his signature moustache, the colorful Hawaiian shirts also cemented Tom Selleck’s fame. But there’s one famous shirt in particular, referred to as “Jungle Bird,” that’s now displayed at the Smithsonian Institute. The Detroit Tigers hat and the insignia ring that Selleck also wore on the show are now displayed at the Smithsonian, too.
8. The series finale
When Magnum, P.I. aired its series finale “Resolutions Part 2” on May 8, 1988, it ended with one of the most-watched TV finales of all time garnering a total of 50.7 million viewers! Magnum, P.I.’s finale is currently the fifth most-watched series finale, just behind Cheers, M*A*S*H, Friends and Seinfeld.