'Look at That Handsome Man... Hey, I think it's Tom Selleck!'

June 2, 2024 at 9:02 p.m.
We found ourselves up close and personal with Tom Selleck on our Hawaiian adventure
We found ourselves up close and personal with Tom Selleck on our Hawaiian adventure

...by Michelle Roedell, Editor, Northwest Prime Time

This essay is about a trip to Hawaii 43 years ago. It's a stretch connecting it to "The True-Life Adventures of a Senior Newspaper Publisher" when my publishing duties didn't begin until decades after I landed in the Aloha State. But because our June "cover boy" is Tom Selleck and this post is also about Tom Selleck, that's all the tie-in I need to indulge in telling my story.   

It all began back in 1981 when I'd been out of college for a couple of years. My older sister, Susan, suggested that we take a trip to Hawaii. It would be our first time on a jet plane. Booking with Pleasant Hawaiian Holidays made it affordable enough that even my meager salary at the non-profit Washington Environmental Council allowed me to scrimp and save to go on what seemed like a trip beyond my wildest dreams. Come to think of it, my ever-generous parents and sister probably pitched in to make it work. 

Soon enough, we were off to a hotel on Oahu and the sunny beaches of Waikiki. A bonus was the fact that my cousin, Lynne -- the one I call "Twin Cuz" because we were born three months apart and grew up together -- was living on Oahu at that time, serving in the Air Force. 

Once in Hawaii, we were greeted with leis and a ride to our hotel. Not beachfront territory, but with beautiful views. Rather thrilling for these neophyte travelers. 

Our true-life, eight-day adventure was a whirlwind of swimming in the warm, blue ocean, walks along the beach, visits with our cousin. We risked body surfing on gigantic waves, went snorkeling, found peace and beauty at the world famous Byodo-In Temple. Lynne's husband had an extra ticket for a free scuba diving lesson, and my sister and I both insisted, "You go," "No, you go" -- I finally twisted her arm, and she took the plunge. "Scary," she reported afterwards. 

We also rented a car for a driving tour around the island, and that is where our encounters with Tom Selleck began.

Lynne had been telling us about this new show we'd never heard of, Magnum PI, and the show's incredibly handsome star, Tom Selleck. We'd never heard of him, either. "It's filmed right here on Oahu and none of us have seen him," she said, disappointed about never laying eyes on the elusive celebrity. Because of Lynne, we learned all about the show, the helicopter, the red Ferrari, and especially about Tom Selleck. 

On that driving tour of the island, Susan, Lynne and I were stopping here and there and everywhere. We'd stepped out of the car by a rocky beachside when we heard the helicopter and looked up to see it swooping low THEN saw the red Ferrari speeding by. "Hey! That's him! That's him!" we screamed, waving wildly.

Tom Selleck smiled and nodded at us. Lynne said, "They will probably have to cut that out," referring to the camera in the helicopter that was filming his every move. 

As we drove around the island taking our stops here and there and everywhere, we kept hearing that helicopter, kept seeing that red Ferrari, kept glimpsing that handsome face through the open window. We'd stop what we were doing and wave with excitement. 

The director surely told Tom Selleck, "Don't react to the screaming fans!" Still, in my fevered memories, each time we saw him, the smile became bigger, the nod became a wave. We practically became best friends with Tom Selleck! The cameraman in the helicopter must have been cursing us for ruining his shot yet again.

But the most famous encounter of all was on one of our walks into town. We found ourselves in a plaza with people streaming out of a movie theater. A man and a woman walked out together on what appeared to be a date. He was tall and so striking that I was moved to exclaim, "Look at that handsome man... Hey, I think it's Tom Selleck!"

We had to be certain. At the same time, we wanted to be cool; we wanted to be nonchalant. We did not want to bother him or intrude on his date, but we needed to get close enough to verify it was really our buddy Tom Selleck, the same heartthrob we kept encountering in his red Ferrari. 

Susan and I took completely different approaches in our quest. I leapt into action like some crazed military speed walker, marching triple time, grimly staring straight ahead until I was right next to him, then a regimented glance to the left had me beholding the gloriousness of Tom Selleck for one long second before I quickly peeled away. Susan, on the other hand, had begun to gaily skip ahead towards a light pole that was in the couple's path. Once she reached the pole, she swung around, seemingly without a care in the world, as if she were in a Broadway musical and this "Singing in the Rain" maneuver was part of her everyday routine. But it worked. The swing placed her practically face-to-face with Tom and his matinee idol good looks.

Thankfully, he did his best to ignore us. 

We were chagrined at how silly we'd been. But it was mission accomplished: we'd both been 'this close' to Magnum.

An aside: Our first ever jet plane flights were exciting -- both coming and going -- but not without complications. On the way over, the flight was delayed for so long that we kept being served free drinks. Great! What service, what hospitality. We never knew flying was like this. On the way back to Seattle, we ordered drinks and were aghast when the attendant asked us to pay for them. What! Pay?! But our drinks were free coming over, we explained. "We're with Pleasant Hawaiian Holidays." Still, she insisted, her hand held out for payment. Later, on that same return flight, the attendants were standing behind us, whisper-whisper-whispering, looking at the wing outside our window. Pretty soon, the pilot came out with a big flashlight, shining it on the wing. Susan and I became nervous. When we arrived back in Seattle and the plane was about to touch down, seeming inches from the tarmac, it suddenly swooped up again. Not a word from the crew. When we finally did touch down, it was a very rough landing. Is it my imagination, or do I remember the passengers screaming with fear? Maybe we should have sprung for that second drink, after all. 

* * * * *

In case you missed them, you can catch up on past blog posts with the links below:

My First Blog Post

Luck, Pluck and Schemes: On Becoming a First-Time Publisher

Who Is That Cover Boy?

Goodbye and Hello

Our Own Field of Dreams

A Northwesterner's New York Pride

The Nun With the Heart of a Newspaper Woman

You Fool Me Every Time, Old Man

Call in the Bomb Squad!

A Parade of Pets

What's In a Name

The Grand Prize: When I Met Sy Rosen

It's a Small World

Jason Reynolds to the Rescue

A Few Words About Interns

With a Little Help from My Family and Friends

A Word About Senior Expos

The Sirs Robinsons: The Tale of Two Remarkable People We Met Along the Way

Rolling with the High Rollers

A Word About Interviewing Famous People

Celebrity Interviews - Part II

My Sister & Sir Tom Jones

Chatting with the Famous and Infamous

Another Go-Round With Artificial Intelligence 

Gramps and Older Americans Month 

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