Magnum, P.I.

Magnum, P.I.

Title card (seasons 3-8)
Genre Crime drama
Created by Donald P. Bellisario
Glen A. Larson
Written by Donald P. Bellisario
Glen A. Larson
Chris Abbott
Jay Huguely
Reuben Leder
Directed by Ray Austin
Michael Vejar
Ivan Dixon
Starring Tom Selleck
John Hillerman
Roger E. Mosley
Larry Manetti
Narrated by Tom Selleck
Theme music composer Ian Freebairn-Smith (pilot, early season 1)
Mike Post
Pete Carpenter
Composer(s) Ian Freebairn-Smith (pilot, early season 1)
Mike Post
Pete Carpenter
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 8
No. of episodes 162 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Donald P. Bellisario
Glen A. Larson
Tom Selleck
Producer(s) Tom Greene
Location(s) Oʻahu, Hawaii
Honolulu, Hawaii
Waimanalo Beach, Hawaii
Running time 48 min. (excluding commercials)
Production company(s) Belisarius Productions
Glen A. Larson Productions
Distributor Universal Television (original)
NBCUniversal Television Distribution (current)
Original network CBS
Picture format Original Broadcast:
4:3 480i (SDTV)
4:3 1080i (HDTV)
Audio format Monaural
Original release December 11, 1980 (1980-12-11) – May 8, 1988 (1988-05-08)
Related shows Simon & Simon
Murder, She Wrote

Magnum, P.I. is an American crime drama television series starring Tom Selleck as Thomas Magnum, a private investigator living on Oahu, Hawaii. The series ran from 1980 to 1988 during its first-run broadcast on the American television network CBS. 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.[1]


Thomas Sullivan Magnum IV, a private investigator, played by Tom Selleck, resides in the guest house of a posh, 200-acre (81 ha) 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 John Hillerman, an ex-British Army Sergeant Major, a (on the surface) stern, "by-the-book" caretaker of Robin's Nest, 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 named 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 car, a Ferrari 308 GTS, (e.g., tennis courts, wine cellar, expensive cameras).

The relationship between Magnum and Higgins was initially cool, but as the series progressed, an unspoken respect and fondness of sorts grew between the pair. 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 sneaking suspicion that Higgins is actually Robin Masters since he opens Robin's mail, calls Robin's Ferrari "his car", etc. This suspicion is never proved or disproved, although in at least one episode - "Déjà-Vu" S06E02 - Higgins is shown alone in a room, picking up the ringing phone and talking to Robin Masters, indicating they are two different persons.

Aside from Higgins, Magnum's two other main companions on the islands are Theodore "T.C." Calvin (Roger E. Mosley), who runs a local helicopter charter service called Island Hoppers, and so often finds himself persuaded by Magnum to fly him during various cases, and Orville Wilbur Richard "Rick" Wright (Larry Manetti), who refuses to use his birth name Orville and who owns a local bar. In the pilot episode, this was "Rick's Place" in town, inspired by Casablanca, with Rick appearing in suitable 1930s attire. However, after completing 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, who was a former Navy SEAL, served in the Vietnam War.[note 1] 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 on which he works, 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, and many other luxuries of the estate. Magnum 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.

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 off the series.

The show also recognized the existence of the fictional elite state 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 paid tribute to Magnum, P.I. in the 2013 episode "Hoa Pili," when the cast flew over the island in a helicopter to the sound of the Magnum, P.I. theme.


The Cast of Magnum, P.I.:
(left-to-right) Larry Manetti as Orville "Rick" Wright, Tom Selleck as Thomas Magnum, Roger E. Mosley as T.C. and John Hillerman as Jonathan Quayle Higgins III.

Recurring characters

She appeared in Seasons 2–8.

Guest stars

The following notable actors (including some future stars) appeared on the show: Sharon Stone, Frank Sinatra, Lew Ayres, Dennis Weaver, Elisha Cook Jr., Carol Burnett, Scatman Crothers, Tyne Daly, Ted Danson, Norman Fell, James Doohan, Ernest Borgnine, Patrick Macnee, Paul Burke, Pat Hingle, Robert Loggia, Alan Hale, Jr., José Ferrer, June Lockhart, Fritz Weaver, Dana Wynter, John Ireland, Vic Morrow, Darren McGavin, Annie Potts, Vera Miles, Barry Nelson, Nehemiah Persoff, Noah Beery, Jr., Barbara Rush, John Saxon, Beverly Garland, Jill St. John, Sylvia Sidney, William Windom, Samantha Eggar, Morgan Fairchild, Dana Delany, Kathleen Nolan, Marcia Wallace, Meredith MacRae, Mercedes McCambridge, Leslie Uggams, Cameron Mitchell, Ian McShane, Romy Schneider, Angela Lansbury (as Jessica Fletcher in a Murder, She Wrote tie-in, along with Jessica Walter and Dorothy Loudon), and Gerald McRaney and Jameson Parker (as Rick and A.J. Simon in a Simon & Simon tie-in).


The boathouse, or guesthouse in Magnum, P.I., during the mid-2000s.

Robin's Nest is the fictional beach front estate on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, which serves as the residence of the main characters. In the series, it is portrayed as being owned by renowned novelist Robin Masters, who entrusts Jonathan Higgins as the estate's caretaker and Thomas Magnum as its security expert. Higgins resides in the estate's main house while Magnum occupies the guest house. In reality, located in Waimānalo, the 3 acres (1.2 ha) beach front property is located on the east shore of Oahu at 41-505 Kalanianaole Highway (Route 72) near Waimanalo Beach (21°19′30″N 157°40′48″W / 21.32500°N 157.68000°W / 21.32500; -157.68000). Called "Pahonu" ("turtle enclosure" in Hawaiian),[2] it is also known locally as "The Anderson Estate". The property was originally used for hundreds of years for raising green turtles for the Hawaiian royal family, and includes a 500 by 50 foot stone wall that encircles the former turtle raising pond, which since 1978 has been on the National Register of Historic Places listings in Hawaii.[2] Developed as a residential estate in the early 1930s, the estate comprises a 11,000 square feet (1,000 m2) main house, a boathouse (which in the series appears as the guest house that Magnum occupies), a gatehouse, a private tennis court, a beach front, and the registered tidal pool.[2]

Owned for a long time by Cox Communications heiress Barbara Cox Anthony, after her death it passed to her stepdaughter, local politician Eve Glover Anderson.[3] Placed on the market with Sotheby's International Realty for $15.750M in January 2014,[2] it was sold for $8.7M in March 2015 to Seth Madorsky, a Chicago lawyer who has close ties to President Barack Obama, and then transferred to an LLC registered in Colorado.[4]

Theme music

The original theme music for the opening credits of the pilot episode was a mid-tempo jazzy piece by Ian Freebairn-Smith. This music was also used for the next nine regular episodes.[5]

Beginning in Episode 12, it was replaced by a more uptempo theme typical of 1980s action series by Mike Post and Pete Carpenter with guitar by Larry Carlton. This theme had been used during the show and over the closing credits since Episode 8. A longer version of this second theme ("Theme from Magnum P.I.", clocking in at 3:25) credited to Post was released as a 7" single by Elektra Records in 1982 and charted on the Billboard Hot 100 that same year, peaking at No. 25 on 8 May 1982.[6][7] This version also appeared on Post's 1982 album Television Theme Songs.[8]



Robin Masters' cars



(in the episodes "Dream a Little Dream" and "Missing Melody")[15]


Selleck's contract commitment to the Magnum, P.I. series famously cost him the role of Indiana Jones in the first Indiana Jones film, Raiders of the Lost Ark, which went to Harrison Ford.[16] Selleck was unable to take the part of Indy as Magnum was due to start filming in March 1980. However, because of the 1980 AFTRA/Screen Actors Guild strike, the start of production on Magnum was delayed until December 1980, which would have allowed Selleck to play Indy.[17] In the show's final season, the producers gave a nod to his sacrifice with the episode "Legend of the Lost Art", which parodied the film.



Ratings and broadcast history

Season Episodes Timeslot
Originally aired Nielsen Ratings
Season Premiere Season Finale Viewers
1 (1980–81) 18 Thursday at 9:00-10:00 pm December 11, 1980 April 16, 1981 16.77 #14
2 (1981–82) 22 Thursday at 8:00-9:00 pm October 8, 1981 April 1, 1982 17.03 #17
3 (1982–83) 23 September 30, 1982 April 28, 1983 18.80 #4
4 (1983–84) 21 September 29, 1983 May 3, 1984 18.77 #6
5 (1984–85) 22 September 27, 1984 April 4, 1985 16.66 #15
6 (1985–86) 21 September 26, 1985 April 10, 1986 #46
7 (1986–87) 22 Wednesday at 9:00-10:00 pm October 1, 1986 April 15, 1987 #34
8 (1987–88) 13 October 7, 1987 May 1, 1988 #40


Selleck won an Emmy in 1984 for his portrayal of the title character. Three years later, co-star John Hillerman also won an Emmy.[18] In 1981, series creators and writers Glen A. Larson and Donald P. Bellisario received an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for Best Episode in a TV Series.[note 3]

Golden Globe Awards[19]

Year Category Nominee(s) Result
1982 Best Performance by an Actor in a TV-Series - Drama Tom Selleck Nominated
Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV John Hillerman Won
1983 Best TV-Series - Drama Nominated
Best Performance by an Actor in a TV-Series - Drama Tom Selleck Nominated
Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV John Hillerman Nominated
1984 Best Performance by an Actor in a TV-Series - Drama Tom Selleck Nominated
1985 Best Performance by an Actor in a TV-Series - Drama Tom Selleck Won
Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV John Hillerman Nominated
1986 Best Performance by an Actor in a TV-Series - Drama Tom Selleck Nominated
1987 Best Performance by an Actor in a TV-Series - Drama Tom Selleck Nominated
Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV John Hillerman Nominated
1988 Best Performance by an Actor in a TV-Series - Drama Tom Selleck Nominated
Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV John Hillerman Nominated

Primetime Emmy Awards

Year Category Nominee(s) Episode(s) Result
1982 Outstanding Drama Series Nominated
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series Tom Selleck Nominated
Outstanding Cinematography for a Series Woody Omens "Memories are Forever" Nominated
1983 Outstanding Drama Series Nominated
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series Tom Selleck Nominated
Outstanding Film Sound Mixing for a Series "Did You See The Sunrise?" Nominated
1984 Outstanding Drama Series Nominated
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series Tom Selleck Won
Outstanding Continuing Performance by a Supporting Actor in a Drama Series John Hillerman Nominated
1985 Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series Tom Selleck Nominated
Outstanding Continuing Performance by a Supporting Actor in a Drama Series John Hillerman Nominated
1986 Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series Tom Selleck Nominated
Outstanding Continuing Performance by a Supporting Actor in a Drama Series John Hillerman Nominated
1987 Outstanding Continuing Performance by a Supporting Actor in a Drama Series John Hillerman Won
1988 Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series Tom Selleck Nominated
Outstanding Continuing Performance by a Supporting Actor in a Drama Series John Hillerman Nominated
Outstanding Guest Performer in a Drama Series Gwen Verdon "Infinity and Jelly Doughnuts" Nominated
Outstanding Cinematography for a Series John C. Finn III "Unfinished Business" Nominated
Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Drama Series "Resolution" Nominated

Other Awards

Year Award Category Nominee(s) Work Result
1982 American Cinema Editors Best Edited Episode for a Television Series Michael Berman & Ed Guidotti "Memories are Forever" Won
1981 Edgar Allan Poe Awards Best Television Episode Donald P. Bellisario & Glen A. Larson "China Doll" Won
1981 People's Choice Awards Favorite New TV Dramatic Program Nominated
1983 Young Artist Awards Best Young Actress, Guest in a Television Series Dana Hill Won
Best Young Actress, Guest in a Television Series Kim Richards Nominated
Best Young Actor, Guest in a Television Series Chad Sheets Nominated
1984 Best Young Actor - Guest in a Television Series R.J. Williams Nominated
2003 TV Land Awards Hippest Fashion Plate - Male Tom Selleck Nominated
2005 Favorite Private Eye Tom Selleck Nominated
2009 Hero Award Won

DVD releases

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has released all eight seasons of Magnum, P.I. on DVD in Region 1, 2 and 4.

On October 1, 2013, Universal released Magnum, P.I. - The Complete Series on DVD in Region 1. The 42-disc set features all 162 episodes of the series as well as bonus features.[20][21]

DVD name Ep # Release dates
Region 1 Region 2* Region 4
The Complete First Season* 18 September 7, 2004[note 4][note 5] September 13, 2004 December 1, 2004
The Complete Second Season 22 April 12, 2005 July 4, 2005 September 19, 2005
The Complete Third Season* 23 January 31, 2006 January 30, 2006 July 12, 2006
The Complete Fourth Season 21 April 4, 2006 June 26, 2006 September 20, 2006
The Complete Fifth Season 22 October 10, 2006 February 12, 2007 March 21, 2007
The Complete Sixth Season 21 February 27, 2007 May 7, 2007 July 4, 2007
The Complete Seventh Season** 22 October 30, 2007 March 31, 2008 June 4, 2008
The Complete Eighth Season*** 13 March 4, 2008 May 19, 2008 September 3, 2008
Seasons One, Two****, Three & Four 84 N/A November 20, 2006 N/A
The Complete Series 162 October 1, 2013[20][21] March 7, 2016 TBD

* Includes the crossover Season 2 episode from Simon & Simon titled "Emerlads Are Not a Girl's Best Friend".[22]
** Includes the crossover Season 3 episode from Murder, She Wrote titled "Magnum On Ice".
*** Includes the bonus Season 5 episode from The Rockford Files titled "White on White and Nearly Perfect" featuring Tom Selleck.
****Includes bonus episodes from The A-Team, Season 2 titled "Diamonds 'n' Dust" and Knight Rider, Season 2 titled "Brother's Keeper".


  1. The three buddies wear a gold Team Ring, which bears a Croix de Lorraine on a black field, as a bond of wartime camaraderie
  2. In the final episode, "Resolutions 2", the priest at Rick's wedding announces his full name as Orville Wilbur Richard Wright. Rick disliked being named after both of the Wright brothers, and preferred his nickname. The series ended in a cliffhanger, as the audience never sees whether Rick actually says "I do". The name may be a discontinuity, as early on in the series Roger E. Mosley's character had referred to him as "Elliot," though in the first episode he is identified as Orville.
  3. The 1981 Edgar Award was won for an episode entitled "China Doll."
  4. The Region 1 version of the Season 1 DVD release comes with an extra disk, featuring extra episodes from later in the series.
  5. The Season 1 release (both Regions 1 and 2) has an error in the episode "China Doll": the musical cues are about 30 seconds off throughout much of the episode.


In September 2016, ABC is developing a sequel from Leverage creator John Rogers and producer Eva Longoria centering on Lily “Tommy” Magnum.[23]


  1. Magnum, P.I details, Museum of Broadcast Communications website; accessed December 29, 2015.
  2. 1 2 3 4 "Homes for the Luxury Lifestyle". Retrieved 2015-11-06.
  3. "Isles' richest person, with $12.6 billion, dies". Retrieved 2013-02-02.
  4. Archived April 28, 2015, at the Wayback Machine.
  5. Writers Lola Landekic Will Perkins Published May 11, 2013 (2013-05-11). "Magnum, P.I. (1980) — Art of the Title". Retrieved 2015-11-06.
  6. Mike Post, Theme From Magnum P.I./Gumbus Red at; retrieved 10 October 2015.
  7. "Billboard-Google Books". Retrieved 2015-11-06.
  8. "Mike Post-Television Theme Songs (Vinyl, LP, Album) at". 2012-03-20. Retrieved 2015-11-06.
  9. "The Ferrari". Magnum Mania. 2014-04-22. Retrieved 2015-11-06.
  10. 1 2 ""Magnum, P.I., 1980-1988": cars, bikes, trucks and other vehicles". Retrieved 2015-11-06.
  11. "1969 Jaguar XK-E Series II in "Magnum, P.I., 1980-1988"". Retrieved 2015-11-06.
  12. "1981 Mercedes-Benz 380 SL [R107] in "Magnum, P.I., 1980-1988"". Retrieved 2015-11-06.
  13. "1980 Datsun 280ZX GL [S130] in "Magnum, P.I., 1980-1988"". Retrieved 2015-11-06.
  14. "T.C.'s Chopper". Magnum Mania!. Retrieved 2015-11-06.
  15. "N9267F Aircraft Registration FlightAware". Retrieved 2015-11-06.
  16. "Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark | Making Raiders of the Lost Ark". Archived from the original on 2003-12-07. Retrieved 2013-02-02.
  17. Nixon, Agnes (2007). "Tom Selleck: More Than Magnum". Biography. A&E. Retrieved 2013-09-25.
  18. "John Hillerman Awards". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved September 22, 2016.
  19. "Magnum, P. I. | Golden Globes". Retrieved 2015-11-06.
  20. 1 2 "All 8 Seasons with Tom Selleck Come Together with The Complete Series". Retrieved July 17, 2013.
  21. 1 2 "Bigger, Better Box Cover Art for The Complete Series DVD Set". Retrieved July 30, 2013.
  22. (2010-12-28). "Simon & Simon - Season 2, Episode 1: Emeralds Are Not a Girl's Best Friend (2)". Retrieved 2015-11-06.
  23. Andreeva, Nellie. "'Magnum P.I.' Sequel About His Daughter In Works At ABC From John Rogers & Eva Longoria". Retrieved 22 September 2016.
Wikiquote has quotations related to: Magnum, P.I.
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 12/2/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.