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'Magnum, P.I.' Actor John Hillerman Dead At 84

'Magnum, P.I.' Actor John Hillerman Dead At 84 Promo Image

Veteran actor John Hillerman is dead. He was 84.

Hillerman, most famous for his role as "Higgins" in the 1980s television detective show "Magnum, P.I.," died at his home in Houston on Nov. 9, reports the Daily Mail.

His death was confirmed by his nephew, Chris Tritico.

"He had an outstanding sense of humor and was one of the most well-read people I ever met," Tritico remarked. "You couldn't play Scrabble with him."

The cause of death was not immediately known, though he reportedly had been in declining health.

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In the hit private investigator show, which featured Tom Selleck in the title role, Hillerman played the debonair manager of the Hawaiian estate that Magnum used as home base.

Although born and raised in Texas, Hillerman often portrayed highbrow characters with a clipped British accent. 

It was a persona that he honed during several decades of acting on the New York stage, his nephew explained.

According to the IMDb website, he developed the accent by studying performances of Laurence Olivier, and once received a fan letter from a British lord that said, "You are a credit to the Empire."

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During the 1960s, Hillerman was the predominant male actor affiliated with the prestigious "O" Street Theater located in Washington, D.C.

His stage career came to an end in 1971 when Peter Bogdanovich saw him on stage and offered him a role in his movie "The Last Picture Show," based on Larry McMurtry's novel about life in a small Texas town, and which was also filmed in a small Texas town.

In it, Hillerman played a character using his natural voice and cadence, which he subsequently also did in Clint Eastwood's "High Plains Drifter" and Mel Brooks' "Blazing Saddles."

In addition to "Magnum, P.I.," Hillerman made numerous other TV appearances, including in "Valerie," "The Love Boat," and "The Betty White Show." 

He also played the villainous boss on "One Day at a Time," the Norman Lear sitcom about a single mom, played by Bonnie Franklin, who was struggling to raise two teenage daughters, portrayed by Mackenzie Phillips and Valerie Bertinelli in roles that made them stars.

According to his nephew, when Hillerman retired in 1999, he returned home to Texas and never looked back to Hollywood.

His last credits included "A Very Brady Sequel" and an appearance on "Murder, She Wrote."

But the character of Higgins remained his favorite role, Tritico noted.

Sources: Daily Mail, IMDb / Featured Image: CBS Television via Wikimedia Commons / Embedded Images: FOTUS INTERNATIONAL/REX/Shutterstock via Daily Mail, WarnerBros/Crossbow Prods/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock via Daily Mail

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