Behind the wheel of his iconic red Ferrari, the charismatic, crime-solving Thomas Magnum has cruised his way into our weekday afternoon line up! We’re bringing you back to the freewheeling ‘80s with this much-loved detective series where the wonderful Tom Selleck got his start. Magnum, P.I. first aired on CBS from 1980 to 1988 and was adored by fans who couldn’t get enough of the lovably rogue-ish private eye’s signature charm and laid-back style, matching the beautiful backdrop of the Hawaiian island of Oahu.
We’re guessing that you’re familiar with this series that became a top TV hit, but do you know some of the ins and outs and juicy behind-the-scenes details? Get ready to dive into the world of Magnum with these fascinating facts, and don’t forget to
catch Magnum P.I. on VisionTV every weekday at 5pm ET!
1. Magnum P.I. and Murder, She Wrote exist in the same universe
Since both shows were produced by CBS, it was decided that the stars of these two hit series should interact. In a special 2-episode crossover event on Murder, She Wrote, Jessica Fletcher vacations in Hawaii and comes across Magnum when he’s framed for two murders. Jessica herself never appeared on an episode of Magnum, but seeing these two detectives team up was a treat for fans nonetheless!
2. Magnum’s signature wardrobe can be found at the Smithsonian
Magnum’s laid back, salt-of-the-earth attitude was reflected in his fashion choices. The recognizable pattern shirt and signet ring worn by Tom Selleck in the series is memorialized at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. In addition to being a key aspect of American culture in the ‘80s, the historical aspect of Magnum being a Vietnam war veteran and the show’s ability to portray this past in a positive light is why the memorabilia is found at the museum.
3. The series is set in Hawaii because of Hawaii Five-O
Also produced by CBS, Hawaii Five-O went off the air in 1980 and the higher-ups didn’t want the production facilities there to go to waste. So, Magnum P.I. was soon conceived and the perfect opportunity was taken to continue giving viewers the beautiful escape of the Hawaiian setting!
4. Tom Selleck almost played Indiana Jones
Steven Spielberg first cast Tom Selleck in the legendary role that Harrison Ford has now played in the mega-successful, five-film franchise. Tom was all set to do the role, but once Magnum P.I. was picked up by CBS after the pilot was filmed, the schedules of both projects conflicted. Tom was under contract with CBS, so he had no choice but to drop out of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Harrison Ford was later cast as Jones and the rest is history. What a different history it almost was!
5. The great Frank Sinatra guest starred
Magnum P.I. became so popular in the ‘80s that it wasn’t a surprise to have big name talent like Frank Sinatra appear on an episode. In 1987, the legendary crooner guest starred in Season 7, Episode 17 as the retired Police Sergeant Michael Doheny. Other notable guest stars included Carol Burnett, Sharon Stone, Ian McShane, Jose Ferrer, Chuck Mangione, Ted Danson and Orson Welles as the voice of Magnum’s mysterious employer, Robin Masters.
6. Magnum was originally written to be more like James Bond
In the first iteration of the pilot episode, the character of Magnum was written to be suave and sophisticated, using a variety of high tech gadgets. Pushback from CBS, and Tom Selleck himself, suggested that the character was seen as a rip-off of 007. “I want to play what I look like,” Selleck told Donald Bellisario, the show’s creator.
“Everyone wants to always play me as the handsome leading guys. I really want to do
something with humor.” So, Bellisario reworked one of his older scripts to make Magnum the grounded, chill character that he is. Thank goodness for those changes!
7. Tom Selleck needed a customized Ferrari
You might know Tom Selleck is a tall man, but did you know he’s 6’4” tall? In fact, that iconic red Ferrari driven by Magnum had to be modified to fit Selleck’s frame, including removing the padding from the seat. The P.I’s vehicle was supposed to be a Porsche, originally, but it couldn’t be appropriately modified, so the Ferrari took its place.
8. The series was supposed to end with Season 7
**spoiler alert ahead for anyone who hasn’t seen Seasons 7 & 8 of the original Magnum P.I.**
Fans were distraught when Magnum was put into a coma at the end of Season 7, and
eventually shown to have died and gone to some sort of heavenly place. This was intended to be the natural end of the series, but CBS wanted one more season. So, the first episode of Season 8 had to include a miraculous recovery for Magnum as he comes out of his coma and continues on to solve crimes for a shortened 13-episode season without his death at the end. Luckily, it was a much more fitting conclusion for fans who couldn’t bear to have Magnum ride off into the sunset just yet!
Revisit all your favourite moments from Magnum P. I. or discover it for the first time, Mondays through Fridays at 5pm ET on VisionTV.