It is Cult Faction’s sad duty to announce that John Hillerman, who played stuffed-shirt Higgins to Tom Selleck’s freewheeling detective Thomas Magnum in the 1980s TV series Magnum, P.I. has died at the age of 84.
Playing the repressed and paternalistic foil to Tom Selleck’s titular character earned Hillerman an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series in 1987 and a Golden Globe Award that same year. Besides the 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.
The quasi-British accent that Hillerman used on Magnum and elsewhere, was honed during several decades of playing varied roles on the New York stage before he turned to TV and movies. He appeared in a number of TV series, including Valerie, The Love Boat and The Betty White Show.
Hillerman made his film debut in Peter Bogdanovich’s “The Last Picture Show” in 1971, before scoring roles in movies such as Bogdanovich’s “Paper Moon,” Clint Eastwood’s “High Plains Drifter,” Mel Brooks’ “Blazing Saddles,” and Roman Polanski’s “Chinatown.”
His last credits included 1996’s A Very Brady Sequel and an early ’90s appearance on Murder, She Wrote. Hillerman’s publicist said he died of natural causes on Thursday at his home in Houston, Texas.