John Hillerman, Emmy-Winning ‘Magnum, P.I.’ Actor, Dies at 84
John Hillerman, who played the caretaker on 1980s detective show “Magnum, P.I.” and appeared in several landmark 1970s films, died Thursday in Houston. He was 84.
Hillerman was nominated for four Emmys for his role as Jonathan Quayle Higgins III on “Magnum, P.I.,” and won for supporting actor in 1987. He won a Golden Globe in 1982.
The native Texan played the character of Tom Selleck’s major domo with a British accent, and often took on supercilious characters. Hillerman was Bonnie Franklin’s cold fish boss on “One Day at a Time,” and had a recurring role on TV business spoof “The Betty White Show.”
He made his film debut in Peter Bogdanovich’s “The Last Picture Show” and went on to appear in three more films for the director, “What’s Up, Doc?,” “Paper Moon,” in which he played twins, a sheriff and a bootlegger, and “At Long Last Love,” as Burt Reynolds’ valet.
Other notable film roles included Clint Eastwood’s “High Plains Drifter,” Mel Brooks’ “Blazing Saddles,” Roman Polanski’s “Chinatown,” and Stanley Donen’s “Lucky Lady.”
Hillerman attended the U. of Texas and served in the Air Force before moving to New York to work in the theater. He met Bogdanovich while appearing in “Othello.”
His other TV roles included “Ellery Queen,” “Murder, She Wrote,” “Simon & Simon,” “Hart to Hart,” “The Love Boat,” and “Valerie.”