Deadline is reporting that actor John Hillerman passed away in his home at the age of 84. The cause of death has not been determined at this time.
Born in Denison Texas days before Christmas in 1932. A childhood love of opera turned into a love of theater when Hillerman was serving in the Air Force. After four years and achieving the rank of Sergeant Hillerman left the Air Force and began to focus on a professional acting career. He ended up with over one hundred theater credits during the course of his career.
Hillerman made his film debut in a small role in They Call Me Mr. Tibbs! He followed that up with a handful of parts in movies such as The Last Picture Show and What’s Up Doc? and started guest starring on TV shows. In 1973 he appeared in the film Paper Moon and the following year was seen in Blazing Saddles and Chinatown. He was also seen in episodes of various shows, including Maude, Wonder Woman, and Kojack. Eventually he had an eight episode stint on Ellery Queen.
Hillerman still appeared in occasional films, such as the horror movie Audrey Rose but continued to do most of his work on TV in the late 70s. He had guest spots on Hawaii 5-0 and Little House on the Prairie, appeared in several made for TV movies, and played Betty White's husband on The Betty White Show and was in a handful of episodes of One Day at a Time.
At the start of the 80s, Hillerman continued to make guest appearances on various series, including Soap, Lou Grant, and The Love Boat. He also reunited with his Blazing Saddles director Mel Brooks for History of the World: Part I. But his biggest role to date was as Tom Selleck's foil Higgins on Magnum P.I. Hillerman filmed over 150 episodes of Magnum P.I. and received five Emmy nominations and four Golden Globe nominations for the role, winning one of each award.
After Magnum P.I. ended its eight year run, Hillerman appeared in the miniseries Around the World in 80 Days and played Lloyd Hogan on 14 episodes of the sitcom Valerie. He was seen twice on Murder, She Wrote and had a small role in A Very Brady Sequel, which was his last filmed role. In 1999 Hillerman retired from acting.
The death of another John Hillerman in 1996 lead to a false death rumor, but the Hillerman from Magnum P.I. and Chinatown actually passed away earlier today. His legacy to film, television, and theater is great and he will be missed.