Magnum PI star Roger E Mosley has died aged 83 after sustaining injuries in a car crash, his daughter has confirmed.
Best known for his role of Theodore ‘T.C.’ Calvin – helicopter pilot and buddy to Tom Selleck’s titular private investigator – he starred in all eight series of the hit show.
His daughter Ch-a confirmed his death to The Hollywood Reporter on Sunday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. She said he was surrounded by his family and passed away “peacefully”.
She had shared news of his car accident in Lynwood, California, several days earlier, telling her followers that her father was in a critical condition and had been left “paralysed from the shoulders down”.
Ahead of his death, she praised him as a “legend, a trailblazer, a role model, a friend to his communities”.
Appearing in 158 of the 162 episodes of Magnum PI which aired from 1980 to 1988, Mosely later told Irish journalist Jim Conlan he had initially disregarded the show – preferring film work to TV gigs – but his agent had persuaded him to do the pilot, advising him that the job was likely to be short-lived as “a show with Tom Selleck always fails”.
He joked: “Well, 8 1/2 years later…”
Producers had reportedly considered casting Gerald McRaney, before deciding they needed a person of colour in the principal cast.
Mosley said it was Selleck who had personally recommended him for the role, after working together on the 1973 prison film Terminal Island.
On the show, which was set in Hawaii, TC was a buddy of Selleck’s Thomas Magnum from their days in Vietnam, and his character owned a helicopter charter company in Oahu called Island Hoppers.
Despite not being allowed to fly on the series, Mosley was a licensed private helicopter pilot in real life.
Mosley pushed for his character to be affluent and educated and a lover of poetry – successfully persuading writers to switch plans for TC to be broke – with his character often getting Selleck’s Magnum out of financial difficulties.
A role model for many, he said in a 1982 interview in the magazine 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.”
Ahead of his big TV break, he starred in many films, earning critical acclaim as blues and folk singer Huddie Ledbetter in 1976 biopic Leadbelly.
He also starred in numerous Blaxploitation movies of the 1970s including The Mack, Hit Man, Sweet Jesus, Preacherman and Darktown Strutters.
An impressive 6ft 2in (189cm) tall and 215lbs (98kg) in his prime, an athletic Mosley played boxer Sonny Liston in Mohammed Ali biopic The Greatest in 1977, appearing alongside the sports icon who played himself in the film.
Born on 18 December,1938, Roger Earl Mosley was raised by his mother in the Imperial Courts project in Watts, southern Los Angeles.
A wrestler in high school and a swimming coach in the neighbourhood, he went on to study acting, landing his first TV role in 1971 in CBS detective show Cannon, which he followed up with several small TV jobs.
He went on to take film roles alongside stars including John Wayne in McQ in 1974, James Earl Jones in The River Niger in 1976 and with Burt Reynolds in Semi-Tough in 1977.
After his success in Magnum, he worked in various TV roles throughout the 1990s including sitcoms Hangin’ With Mr Cooper, You Take the Kids, and Rude Awakening, as well as further movie roles.
Despite stepping back from acting in 2010, he made a guest appearance in two episodes of the 2018 Magnum PI reboot starring Jay Hernandez and British actress Perdita Weeks.
In tribute, his daughter Ch-a 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.”
Mosley leaves behind his wife of 60 years Toni, daughter Ch-a and son Brandonn, grandson Austin; and many nieces and nephews.