John Hillerman, who played stuffed-shirt Higgins to Tom Selleck's freewheeling detective Thomas Magnum in the 1980s TV series Magnum, PI, has died at age 84. Hillerman, who had been in declining health, died Thursday of natural causes at his home in Houston, nephew Chris Tritico says. Besides playing the 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 AP reports
When Hillerman decided to retire about 17 years ago, the actor born in Denison, Texas, returned to his native state and was content leaving Hollywood behind, says his nephew. He remembered his uncle, an Air Force veteran, fondly. "He had an outstanding sense of humor and was one of the most well-read people I ever met. You couldn't play Scrabble with him," Tritico says. As for that quasi-British accent that Hillerman used on Magnum and elsewhere, his nephew says that was honed during several decades of playing varied roles on the New York stage before he turned to TV and movies. His film appearances included roles in Blazing Saddles, The Last Picture Show, and High Plains Drifter.
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