There is no denying that Tom Selleck was America's heartthrob in the 80s. But for the machismo (and mustache!) that sealed his status as a major sex symbol, the actor has long faced rumors about his sexual orientation.
Selleck has denied persistent charges that he's homosexual, and even pursued a $20 million lawsuit against a tabloid to put an end to the speculation. Take a look at the unusual circumstances that led to this notorious bit of gossip, and get the answer to the burning question: Is Tom Selleck gay?
Boomers know Tom Selleck as the mustachioed mega-babe who starred in the hit CBS crime drama Magnum, P.I. The series ran from 1980 to 1988 and earned the actor seven consecutive Golden Globe nominations for Best Actor in a Television Series Drama (including a win in 1985).
Selleck also appeared on the big screen, his biggest role being Peter Mitchell in the 1987 box office hit Three Men and a Baby.
Selleck prefers to live far from the limelight, but the personal interests that we know of reveal someone who could rival Dos Equis' Most Interesting Man in the World. He lives on a 65-acre California ranch with 1,500 native avocado trees. He's also an accomplished indoor and beach volleyball player, as well as a former minority owner of the Detroit Tigers baseball team. A registered independent with self-described "libertarian leanings," Selleck is a gun-rights advocate who served on the board of directors of the NRA until 2018.
Selleck's reputation as a dreamboat led to garden variety gossip about his sexual orientation in the 1980s and 90s. But the actor drew a line in the sand after one particular story was published in a July 1991 edition of The Globe.
Earlier that year, a group of gay activists called Outpost attempted to "out" various public figures by plastering placards of their faces around New York City.
A photo of Selleck with the phrase "absolutely queer" was included in the campaign.
The Globe, a supermarket tabloid with a circulation of 1.2 million, published photos of the posters for a story titled "'Gay' Stars Stop Traffic." After the paper refused to publish a retraction, Selleck sued them for libel and invasion of privacy.
A 16-page complaint claimed that the story was "intended ... to directly injure [him] with respect to his family relationships, reputation, character, profession, trade, or business, among other things." In addition to $20 million, the actor sought unspecified damages for "shame, mortification, hurt feelings, embarrassment and humiliation, and damage to his peace of mind."
By August 1991, he settled out of court with the publication for an undisclosed sum. However, as part of the settlement, The Globe agreed to publish an apology, which read in part: "By publishing the article, the Globe did not intend to express or imply that Tom Selleck is or ever was a homosexual."
Selleck made sure to clarify that his suit was not a condemnation of homosexuals.
"Look, it's not anti-gay to say you're not gay," Selleck said in a 1997 interview with The Morning Call. "When The Globe printed the gay story, I had made a commitment to my wife, who'd given birth to my daughter. I have a 29-year-old (step)son. This tabloid was implying that I was leading a double life. It was hurtful to other people, which is where I draw the line."
But the rumors didn't stop Selleck from taking on the role of a gay man in the 1997 film In & Out. In the movie, he played a closeted TV reporter whose sexual orientation was exposed by a tabloid years earlier. It was a familiar premise, and he hoped that a stunning male-on-male kissing scene would put a stop to charges that he was a homophobe.
"Because I had sued several tabloids for falsely saying I was gay, people were saying I was anti-gay," Selleck said in a 2015 issue of TV Guide. "Playing the role ended both those rumors."
Taking him at his word, Tom Selleck is decidedly heterosexual. The actor is twice married. His first wife, model Jacqueline Ray, was married to the actor from 1971 to 1982. Selleck also adopted her son, musician Kevin Shephard.
After three decades, the couple is still happily married, and Selleck seems no longer bothered by accusations to the contrary.
"I don't know where it comes from," he told TV Guide, referring to the rumors that he's gay. "I guess some folks who are gay want me to be gay. That's fine with me. You haven't made it until people want to make up things about you."
Gossip Cop has determined this story is totally false.