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Roger E. Mosley: Magnum P.I. actor dies aged 83 after car crash

Actor Roger E. Mosley, who appeared in all eight seasons of the original Magnum P.I., has died aged 83.

He portrayed Theodore “T.C.” Calvin, the helicopter pilot and friend of Tom Selleck’s character.

Mosley died from injuries sustained in a car accident in Lynwood, Los Angeles last week.

His daughter Ch-a, who previously told followers about the car crash, confirmed his death to the Hollywood Reporter.

She later wrote on Facebook: “We could never mourn such an amazing man. He would hate any crying done in his name. It is time to celebrate the legacy he left for us all.

“I love you daddy. You loved me too. My heart is heavy but I am strong. I will care for mommy, your love of almost 60 years. You raised me well and she is in good hands. Rest easy.”

His friend Tina Andrews tweeted: “What a sweet man and a fine actor who gave great parties. RIP, Roger. You were loved and shall be missed.”

Mosley played musician Huddie Ledbetter, known for The Midnight Special, in 1976’s Leadbelly – a performance that was praised by critics.

He also appeared in The Mack, Hit Man, The Greatest, Darktown Strutters, and Sweet, Jesus Preacherman.

But Mosley’s most high-profile role was in Magnum P.I., which saw him appear in 158 out of 162 episodes between 1980 and 1988.

Roger E. Mosley pictured with Tom Selleck in 2003

The series was created by Donald Bellisario and Glen A. Larson – and Mosley’s character T.C. was a buddy of Selleck’s Thomas Magnum from their days in Vietnam.

His character owned a helicopter charter company in Oahu called Island Hoppers, which came in handy on the series that aired from December 1980 until May 1988.

According to Mosley, his co-star Selleck recommended him for the part after they worked together on 1973’s Terminal Island. Producers had reportedly considered casting Gerald McRaney, before deciding they needed a person of color in the principal cast.

‘Tom Selleck shows always fail’

Mosley was working on films at the time and did not want a job on a television show, but his agent talked him into doing the Magnum pilot.

As Mosley remembered it, his agent told him: “‘It’s starring this guy Tom Selleck. Tom Selleck has made about five pilot shows … and none of them has sold.

“‘So here’s what you do, Roger: sign up for the show, go over to Hawaii, they’ll treat you good for the 20 days it will take to shoot the [pilot], you’ll get a lot of money, and then you come home. A show with Tom Selleck always fails, and you’ll be fine.'”

Mosley then joked: “Well, eight-and-a-half years later… “

The actor felt strongly that his character should be a university graduate, a lover of books and poetry, and a guy who didn’t party.

“They [the Magnum writers] keep writing for me to smoke and drink, but I won’t do it,” he said in a 1982 interview in Ebony. “I never get high, smoke, or drink on the show or in real life. That’s not what I want black kids to see.”

Mosley did less acting in his later years and mostly stopped appearing in films and TV shows around 2010.

However, he did guest star in two episodes of the revived Magnum P.I., which launched in 2018, starring Jay Hernandez and Perdita Weeks.

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