To most, John Hillerman was known for his role as Jonathan Quayle Higgins III on Magnum, P.I, but many locally knew him from his days growing up in Denison.
Hillerman, who was a four-time Emmy nominee for his role alongside Tom Selleck and won in 1987, died at his home in Houston on Thursday, The Associated Press reported. He was 84.
Besides his eight years on CBS alongside Selleck, Hillerman also appeared on several episodes of Murder, She Wrote, Simon & Simon, Ellery Queen, The Betty White Show, Valerie’s Family: The Hogans, and One Day at a Time, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Hillerman was born in Denison, the son of a gas station owner, Hillerman attended St. Xavier’s Academy, the Denison Alumni Association website says. He attended the University of Texas at Austin for three years before spending four years in the Air Force.
Hillerman made his on-screen debut at 39 in the 1971 Western Lawman, the Reporter says. He later stared in such hits Mel Brooks’ “Blazing Saddles” (1974) and Roman Polanski’s “Chinatown” (1974).
The AP reports that Hillerman retired to Houston 17 years ago.
“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,” his nephew, Chris Tritico told the AP.
Tritico said Hillerman’s favorite role was that of Higgins.
“The reason he didn’t take another big role is he refused to take a sitcom after ‘Magnum,’ ” he said. “He wanted to continue doing the serious work that he felt ‘Magnum’ was.”
Hillerman’s survivors include a sister, Jo Ann Tritico, and seven nieces and nephews including Tritico.