John Hillerman, the actor who made a career out of playing snooty types, including Tom Selleck’s fastidious estate caretaker Jonathan Quayle Higgins III on Magnum, P.I., died Thursday. He was 84.
Hillerman, who received four Emmy nominations in consecutive years for portraying Higgins and won in 1987, died at his home in Houston, family spokeswoman Lori De Waal told the Associated Press. She said the cause of death had not been determined.
Besides playing manager of the Hawaiian estate that Magnum used as home base, Hillerman was known for his 1970s roles as arrogant radio show detective Simon Brimmer on the “Ellery Queen” series and the difficult boss on the sitcom “One Day at a Time.”
When Hillerman decided to retire about 17 years ago, the actor born in Denison, Texas, returned to his native state and was content leaving Hollywood behind, said his nephew. He remembered his uncle, an Air Force veteran, fondly.
“He had an outstanding sense of humor and was one of the most well-read people I ever met. You couldn’t play Scrabble with him,” Tritico said.
As for that quasi-British accent that Hillerman used on “Magnum” and elsewhere, his nephew said that was honed during several decades of playing varied roles on the New York stage before he turned to TV and movies.
Hillerman appeared in other series, including Valerie, The Love Boat and The Betty White Show. His film credits include The Last Picture Show and High Plains Drifter.
He will be sorely missed, RIP Legend!