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Tom Selleck & Cigars

J. Bennett Alexander Alexander's picture

J. Bennett Alexander

The most surprising thing I remember ever hearing about Tom Selleck is that he was the original choice to play Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark. He had to turn down the role because he had just signed a contract to play the TV role that would launch his career, Thomas Magnum in Magnum P.I. The TV show’s producers wouldn’t let Selleck take time off to do the movie. As it happened, the show’s debut was delayed by six months due to a writers’ strike. He could have done Raiders. Sure, but then where would Harrison Ford be?

The most unsurprising thing I ever learned about Selleck is that he really likes to smoke cigars.

Tom Selleck’s Favorite Cigar

Selleck is an Arturo Fuente guy.

"I smoke Arturo Fuente cigars, the Don Carlos Robusto and the [Hemingway] Short Story. And if that's all I had I'd be happy the rest of my life,” Selleck told Cigar Aficionado. “[The Don Carlos is] always a good smoke. It's really a good cigar and I know the family. They're a terrific family. And even when they're hard to get, they kind of help me find some. So, I'd say 90 percent of the cigars I smoke are those, the Don Carlos Robusto. And if I want a good short smoke, it's a Short Story. I've never had a bad smoke with a Don Carlos.”

Why Tom Selleck Gave Up Cubans

It turns out that Selleck used to be a big fan of Cuban Cohiba cigars. He’s become a bit less enthusiastic about them for reasons we all understand.

“I'm over the Havana thing,” Selleck explained. “I've smoked some really good Havanas. I think they cost a lot, though. The cost of cigars influences me [some], but the Cohiba Robusto, especially when they first came out, I think they were better than they are now. That doesn't mean they aren't good now, [but] what I found basically with Cubans, which is frustrating, is you get an exceptional cigar but...quality control-wise for those prices, you're going to find some lousy smokes. If it's not taste, it's the way the cigar is made. It's got a tunnel or it's going to go out or it's going to drop. In a box you're going to have a certain amount of those, and you shouldn't. So that's always frustrating. But, you know, maybe they've corrected that now. There was a period, I heard, where the Havanas, they were rushing them to market, not aging them properly, stuff like that."

Staying Star Power

If you’re not familiar with Tom Selleck, 78 years of age, he became successful as an actor at a relatively late age. Before he landed Magnum, P.I. at 35 years of age, Selleck made seven failed TV pilots in his first 11 years in show business and finally became somewhat recognized when he had a recurring role on the hit TV show The Rockford Files. Still, many thought he got the role of Thomas Magnum because of his good looks. He kind of laughs at that.

"I became an overnight success at age 35." Selleck won an Emmy in 1984 for the role of the Hawaii-based, Ferrari-driving private eye. The show ran from 1980 to 1988 and consistently ranked in the top 20 in the ratings.

Younger audiences, though not too young, probably know Selleck from the hit show Friends. He played the older man with whom Monica (Courtney Cox) had a relationship. These days, Selleck is the star of Blue Bloods, playing the police commissioner of the NYPD. The show has been a steady hit since 2010 and is still going strong.

Selleck starred in several movies, most notable among them were Three Men and a Baby (1987), Quigley Down Under (1990), Mr. Baseball (1992), and In & Out (1997). Still, Selleck’s greatest success has been on TV. He shot several Jesse Stone movies for TV, mainly in Halifax, Canada. His main complaint while shooting there was finding a place to smoke a cigar.

"If I'm in a work situation I'll smoke cigars just because you have to wait around a lot,” Selleck said, explaining that strict smoking laws in Canada meant smoking outside. “There's time if you've got a 45-minute set-up in between takes and you know your words and you know your character. The worst thing in the world to do is sit around doing your words and thinking about your character and getting nervous! At home if I'm in the normal mode I'll probably smoke three, four cigars a month. [At work] I'm smoking one a day, probably."

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