Tom Selleck wasn’t sure he wanted to be an actor growing up. Born January 29, 1945, in Detroit, Michigan, his family moved to California, where he grew up in the San Fernando Valley.
Selleck dreamt about enrolling at the University of Southern California (USC), but his family couldn’t afford the tuition.
In 1962, he graduated from Grant High School. After enrolling at Los Angeles Valley College, he lived at home with his parents to save money.
In his early days, it seemed more likely that Tom would have a career in athletics instead of acting. He was an up-and-coming basketball player and dreamt about going pro. With that in mind, one can only imagine how happy he was after being awarded a basketball scholarship at the University of Southern California.
“I never did school plays. I had no interest,” Tom told AARP in 2015.
After some time, Selleck understood that basketball probably wouldn’t be his future career. However, he had a backup plan and took a side job to help pay his tuition. The aspiring student first landed some gigs in television commercials and appeared on The Dating Game.
Tom Selleck was offered a spot on 20th Century Fox’s talent program shortly after. He started crafting his skills, but after two years, he took leave for six months of active duty.
Upon returning, Selleck was dropped. But instead of giving up, he was confident he would make it as an actor.
In the early 1970s, he landed smaller parts in many television series. Then, approaching his mid-30s, Selleck starred in six television pilots. Despite that, his big breakthrough didn’t arrive.
According to Tom, that was why many thought he was an overnight success when he landed the role of Thomas Magnum in Magnum, P.I. In reality, he had struggled and fought desperately hard.