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Reflecting on a Fortunate Life: Tom Selleck’s Serendipitous Career and 40 Years with Wife Jillie (Exclusive)

Since acquiring the Ventura County, California property in 1988, several changes have occurred. The farm’s avocado trees were nearly wiped out by droughts, and approximately 25 oaks, each over a century old, were decimated. Expressing his dismay, the 79-year-old actor shared with PEOPLE in this week’s cover story, “That just breaks your heart. But with the recent rainfall, the ailing trees are showing signs of recovery, sprouting abundant healthy growth.”

When he returns home every fortnight from filming his enduringly popular CBS series, currently set in New York City, the actor’s routine involves perusing the newspapers in the morning and then traversing the ranch on his ATV to inspect the wildflowers.

“I’ve been planting them for years, and they bloom in different cycles,” he elaborated. “During the coldest times, one variety blooms, followed by another. It may sound trivial, but I find joy in observing their growth.”

“Blue Bloods” features Frank (Tom Selleck), Danny (Donnie Wahlberg), Erin (Bridget Moynahan), Henry (Len Cariou), and Jamie (Will Estes).

After more than five decades in the entertainment industry, Selleck finds contentment in leading a tranquil life. Achieving significant success at 35 by portraying a Vietnam veteran-cum-private investigator on the ‘80s hit series, for which he earned an Emmy, the 6’4” star never sought the limelight or embraced the heartthrob image, despite his rugged good looks.

Even as he continued to captivate audiences in films like High Road to China and Three Men and a Baby, as well as TV shows such as Las Vegas, he maintained his modest demeanor. Now, he is prepared to recount his journey from struggling actor to television icon in his forthcoming memoir, set to release on May 7.

Titled “You Never Know,” Selleck’s memoir writing endeavor initially filled the usually private star with apprehension. “I don’t have the dramatic life story that many do,” he remarked. “I didn’t undergo a public rehabilitation or face severe tragedies. While I’ve had my share of highs and lows, I consider myself extremely fortunate.”

Seated in a meticulously restored 1910 hunting lodge on his estate, a cherished retreat from the entertainment world, Selleck epitomizes the image of a devoted family man. His wife, [ppp1] 66, their daughter [ppp2] 35, and his grown son, Kevin (from his previous marriage to Jacqueline Ray), take precedence in his life.

Selleck, who meticulously penned his memoir over four years in longhand (interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic), describes it as a narrative of setbacks and numerous failures. “If you choose a career in acting, you must develop a resilience for failure. I aimed to convey that message… It has been quite a journey,” he reflected.

For Selleck, who earned a full basketball scholarship to USC while studying business administration, acting was never a consideration. His foray into the industry was serendipitous, starting with a role as a basketball player in a Pepsi commercial and later as a contestant on The Dating Game. “It truly is the tale of an accidental career,” he emphasized. “I never attended acting classes, had no formal training, nor harbored any ambitions in that direction.”

In 1967, he made appearances on , featured in several Western films, and secured minor roles on series like The Rockford Files before landing the breakthrough role in Magnum in 1980. Dismissing notions of being bitten by the acting bug or aspiring for stardom, Selleck stated, “I’ve never spoken in those terms. I simply sought employment and opportunities.”

The actor crossed paths with his wife Jillie in 1983 in London while she performed in the musical Cats, eventually tying the knot in 1987. Their daughter Hannah was born the following year. Selleck cherishes the camaraderie he shares with his wife, highlighting, “And Jillie’s sense of humor.”

Presently, the star, ironically not an ardent TV viewer, prefers spending leisure hours reviewing Blue Bloods scripts with Jillie by his side. “I’m usually one of the last to view the episodes, and I offer valuable editing insights,” noted Selleck, who also serves as an executive producer on the show.

During quieter moments, he indulges in a cigar and a glass of whiskey to unwind. Reflecting on his life, he expressed, “I’ve been incredibly fortunate, leading a fulfilling and charmed life. It may not have been what I envisioned, but I am immensely grateful.”

Mark your calendars for the release of You Never Know on May 4.