John Hillerman, a Texas-born actor who performed the likably snobbish United kingdom caretaker on the tv set show “Magnum, P.I.” and performed supporting tasks in iconic 1970s videos like “Chinatown” and “Blazing Saddles,” passed away Thursday night at his home in Houston. He was 84.
His publicist, Lori De Waal, said he had died of natural triggers.
After 30 years of operating, on Broadway and in Hollywood, Mr. Hillerman arrived a career-defining role in 1980 as Jonathan Quayle Higgins III, the stuffy perfectionist and foil to the free-spirited detective Thomas Magnum in “Magnum, P.I.” Higgins was grouchy with a sarcastic wit, not unlike Mr. Hillerman’s portrayal of the detective in the mid-1970s show “Ellery Queen.”
“Magnum, P.I.” became a runaway success for eight years for CBS and made Tom Selleck, who played Magnum, a mainstay in tabloids, solidifying his Hollywood profession. But Mr. Hillerman relished the accommodating role and found it equally rewarding.
“It isn’t such a long time ago i was a struggling actor living in NY, and the thing I could forget about was my rent,” Mr. Hillerman said in a 1985 interview, sipping a glass of wine on his penthouse balcony in Honolulu.
The portrayal of Higgins received him an Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Theatre, a Golden World Honor and many lovers in England, who adored the haughty major-domo of your beachfront property where Magnum lived. Mr. Hillerman said he believed dreadful when he taken care of immediately their fan email and had to let them down.
“I hate to disappoint you, but I’m a hick from Texas,” he said he replied.
John Benedict Hillerman was born in Denison, Tex., about 60 kilometers north of Dallas, on December. 20, 1932, to Christopher Benedict Hillerman and Lenora Joan Hillerman. He was the middle child with two sisters, and he displayed independence at a young age. He’s survived by one sister, Jo Ann Tritico, as well as nieces and nephews.
By 12, Mr. Hillerman was driving a car by himself and within a couple of years, planing a trip to Dallas and remaining only in hotels to start to see the opera. But he did not immediately see himself on level. It was not until he was located in Fort Worth for the environment Force that he decided to audition for a community theater production of “Death of any Salesman.”
“WHENEVER I stepped on stage, I experienced the best high I’ve ever endured in my life,” he recounted in a 1987 interview. “And I thought to myself, ‘Hillerman, until this second, you have been bored.'”
Before he kept the Air Pressure, he had worked well in nearly two dozen has. He previously found his passion and migrated to the East Coastline. During 11 years in New York and then four in Washington, Mr. Hillerman made an appearance in more than 100 tasks on level. But in the end those years, he previously only $700 in the bank and made a decision to move to Los Angeles to find better paying work.
He instantly got a role in a TV movie but struggled for just two years from then on to find something else. He eventually reconnected with a friend from NY, the director Peter Bogdanovich, who cast Mr. Hillerman in some of his videos, including “THE VERY LAST Picture Show” in 1971 and “Paper Moon” in 1973.
Through the late 1970s, Mr. Hillerman came out in a number of sitcoms. He performed Simon Brewer, the radio sleuth in “Ellery Queen,” and John Elliot, the sarcastic ex-husband of Betty White in “The Betty White Show.” He also played the role of Mr. Connors, the employer of Ann Romano (played out by Bonnie Franklin) on “1 DAY at the same time.”
But the role that transformed his life came several years later. CBS had cast Mr. Selleck in “Magnum, P.I.” but were not impressed with the British actors who used for Higgins. As Mr. Hillerman recounted in 1984, Mr. Selleck’s agent recommended him and he was offered the role two hours following the audition.
“It’s the best gig I’ve ever had,” he said that calendar year. “You are looking at this exceptional thing: a happy actor.”