Roger E. Mosley, who portrayed Theodore “TC” Calvin, the helicopter pilot and boyfriend of Tom Selleckthe character on all eight seasons of the original Magnum, IP, who died on Sunday. He was 83 years old.
Mosley died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles from injuries sustained in a car crash in nearby Lynwood three days earlier, his daughter, Ch-a. The Hollywood Reporter.
On the big screen, Mosley was in his prime as blues and folk singer Huddie Ledbetter (“The Midnight Special”) in the period piece lead belly (1976), directed by Gordon Parks. In his review, Roger Ebert wrote that Mosley played the role “with great force” and called the film “one of the best biographies of a musician I have ever seen”.
Mosley was also a star in blaxploitation films, playing Goldie’s angry brother fresh out of prison (Max Julien) in the classic Mac (1973) and featured in Hitman (1972), Sweet Jesus, preacher (1973) and Darktown Strutters (1975).
And in The best (1977), Mosley – a burly 6-foot-2, 215-pound in his prime – portrayed Sonny Liston and got whipped by Mohamed Ali.
The likeable actor appeared in 158 of CBS’s 162 episodes. Magnum, IPcreated by Donald Bellisario and Glen A. Larson. TC was a pal of Thomas Magnum de Selleck from their days in Vietnam; his character owned a helicopter rental company in Oahu called Island Hoppers, which came in handy in the series that aired from December 1980 to May 1988.
According to Mosley, Gerald McRaney was set to play TC before the producers realized they needed a person of color in the main cast. Selleck thought of Mosley from a prison movie they made together in 1973 Terminal Islandand suggested him for the role.
The Los Angeles native was busy making movies at the time and didn’t want to work on a TV show, but his agent convinced him to at least do the Magnum pilot.
Like Mosley reminded on it, his agent said, “‘It’s with this guy Tom Selleck. Tom Selleck did about five pilot shows…and none of them sold out. So here’s what you do, Roger: Sign up for the show, go to Hawaii, they’ll treat you right for the 20 days it takes to shoot the [pilot], you will earn a lot of money, then you will go home. A show with Tom Selleck always fails, and you’ll be fine.
“Well, 8 and a half years later…”
Mosley in real life was a licensed private helicopter pilot (something producers found out after he was hired, he said) but was not allowed to fly on the show.
At first, the writers had TC as the owner of a struggling helicopter company, but Mosley refused “to be the only black guy in Hawaii and be broke,” he said. “And they backtracked. They decided that Tom would be broke and I would be financially well off – except I was still bailing him out.
Mosley also made his character a graduate of Grambling State University, a lover of books and poetry, and a guy who didn’t party.
“They [the Magnum writers] keep writing so that I smoke and drink, but I won’t,” he said in a 1982 interview with 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.
Born on December 18, 1938, Roger Earl Mosley was raised by his mother, Eloise, at the Imperial Courts project in Watts. He was a high school wrestler and neighborhood swim coach.
As a 1976 recounts People storyMosley was studying acting under Raymond St. Jacques at the Mafundi Institute, a community arts school in Watts, when a director from Universal came to lecture the students about self-sacrifice and said: “I know actors who had to eat ketchup sandwiches. ”
Mosley stood up and shouted, “You have the audacity to tell us to eat ketchup sandwiches for our art. I know people who eat ketchup sandwiches to survive. We need someone to give us a break.
The director has invited Mosley to tour the studio next week.
Mosley made one of his first screen appearances in 1971 on an episode of CBS’ cannonlater played small roles in The New Centurions (1972) and Hickey & Boggs (1972).
He then worked with John Wayne in McQ (1974); with James Earl Jones, Cicely Tyson and Louis Gossett Jr. in The Niger River (1976); and, as football player Puddin Patterson Sr., in Semi-hard (1977), featuring Burt Reynolds.
Job-Magnumhe starred alongside Nell Carter in the CBS sitcom You take the childrenas Coach Ricketts on ABC Hanging out with Mr. Cooper and as Milt Johnson on Showtime rude awakening. He also appeared in the movies Cardiac problem (1990), Illegal entry (1992), Pentathlon (1994) and A thin line between love and hate (1996).
Survivors also include his wife, Antoinette (“Toni”) – they had been together for nearly 60 years – his son Brandonn; grandson Austin; and Rahsan, among his many nieces and nephews
Ch-a wrote on Facebook: “We could never mourn such an incredible man. He HATES any crying done in his name. It’s time to celebrate the legacy he left for all of us. I love you dad. You loved me too. My heart is heavy but I am strong. I will take care of mom, your love of almost 60 years. You raised me well and she’s in good hands. Rest quietly.