TV Hunks of the '80s

Tom Selleck is turning 70. A bit shocking, isn’t it? Let's look at some of his stats as well as some other famous hunks we went gaga for in the '80s.
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To celebrate Tom's momentous occasion, we’re taking a look at him then and now, as well as others in the illustrious group of which he is a member. We’re not talking about the Joseph and Edna Josephson Institute of Ethics, or the Character Counts Coalition, or even the NRA; we’re talking about the unofficial club of hunks of the 1980s.

We’re rounding them up below, and here’s what we’re going to tell you about them: their current age, their “hunkpoint” age (how old they were when their hit 80s show premiered), a bit about their peak of hunkosity, an update on where they are now, and some tidbits that fascinate us.

Dig in, hungry hunk-lovers.


Current age: 70
Hunkpoint: 35
'80s hunky hit: Magnum, P.I.

Tom Selleck Magnum PI Photo

Tom Selleck struggled in the TV business for years before getting the starring role on Magnum, P.I. Magnum had the dream life: he lived in Hawaii, he drove a Ferrari, and he seemed to work whenever he felt like it. It wasn’t too shabby for Tom Selleck, either, who shot to fame and fortune with his trademark moustache and a closet full of Hawaiian shirts.

When he hit big, though, he really hit: right after he signed on to Magnum, P.I., he was offered the part of Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark. The show producers wouldn’t adjust their schedule for him, though, so after wrestling with his conscience vs. his ambition, his conscience won and he chose to honor his contract with the series. He put a down payment on an apartment in Hawaii, and then discovered, after moving there, that a Hollywood strike had delayed production. While he languished in Hawaii, doing odd jobs for his landlady because he couldn’t pay the rent, the Raiders team arrived and started shooting . . . with Harrison Ford. Turns out the schedule would have worked out just fine.

It did work out fine, though. Selleck has had a great movie career along with TV success. These days he’s starring in Blue Bloods on CBS, and living on a 63-acre avocado ranch, although he hates avocados.

Post Magnum and pre-Blue Bloods, he had a much-loved guest star stint on Friends. And so did . . .


Current age: 59
Hunkpoint: 30
'80s hunky hit: Moonlighting

Bruce Willis Moonlighting Photo

Bruce Willis won the role of Moonlighting’s David Addison over 3000 other actors. He and Cybill Shepherd’s Maddie Hayes ran the Blue Moon Detective Agency for five seasons, although the challenges were many: Shepherd had twins during the show’s run and became increasingly difficult to schedule, Willis became a movie star thanks to the box office smash Die Hard, and the two stars liked each other less and less as time went on. And “liked each other less” is an awfully nice way to put it.

Willis has made over 60 movies, and despite a few flops, gets consistent commercial and critical acclaim. Right now he’s got two new action thrillers in the works, which is pretty high on the hunk meter for a guy turning 60 this year. Equally hunky: his reputation as a great tipper, thanks to his struggling years as a waiter and bartender. Less hunky: he was the student council president in high school. Wait! More hunky: he actually once worked as a private investigator, and performed all of his own stunts in the first Die Hard movie, which has become a 27 year-long franchise, with four sequels and a potential fifth in the works.

And right before he was cast on Moonlighting, he did a four-episode stint on a little show called Miami Vice, which starred . . .


Current age: 65
Hunkpoint: 35
'80s hunky hit: Miami Vice

Philip Michael Thomas Miami Vice Photo

Pitched as an “MTV cop show,” Miami Vice was a television game-changer. The focus was on style over substance, action over drama, highly stylized visuals, and a steady stream of music to keep the younger audiences hooked, and it worked. Like the female stars of TV today, the show’s two lead characters wore anywhere from five to eight different outfits in each episode, creating a lasting impact on men’s fashion.

As Ricardo “Rico” Tubbs, Philip Michael Thomas got a big step up from his previous gig, starring opposite Irene Cara in Sparkle. But Miami Vice was definitely his career peak. He did do a few made-for-TV movies, but his most recent appearances have been as a voice in the Grand Theft Auto game series. Even his attempt at a recording career pales in comparison to the musical accomplishments of his fellow hunks. But don’t despair: when he was replaced by Miss Cleo as a psychic network spokesperson, he won over two million dollars from a lawsuit that went in his favor.

Ironically, Thomas is the person responsible for coining the term “EGOT.” It refers to the Emmy-Grammy-Oscar-Tony quartet of glory, and he made up the phrase to show his determination to win all four. To this date, he has been nominated for exactly none of them.

He had a good run in the '80s, though, co-starring with his good friend . . .


Current age: 65
Hunkpoint: 35
'80s hunky hit: Miami Vice

Don Johnson Miami Vice Photo

Even before Miami Vice, Don Johnson was living fast: who else can tell a story about Jimi Hendrix wiping cocaine off his upper lip, for propriety’s sake, at a nightclub? But once Miami Vice and Sonny Crockett came along, he was unstoppable. Known for his swagger, his stubble, and his way with women, Don Johnson lived the quintessential '80s life, wearing high fashion, racing fast cars and boats, and jamming with rock musicians.

His romantic relationships have given him five children; his oldest is actress Dakota Johnson, star of the much-hyped upcoming movie Fifty Shades of Grey. Her mother is Melanie Griffith, whom Johnson married twice.

Johnson may have slowed down just a little, but he has no shortage of projects on tap, from starring in the HBO series Eastbound & Down to co-writing a project with filmmaker Robert Rodriguez, and basking in Quentin Tarantino’s admiration, which apparently knows no bounds. When Johnson first met him, Tarantino had seen a movie of his that he’d never even seen himself.

While he’s still living the good life, he’s definitely behaving better than he was at the height of his Vice fame, when bad behavior on the set and stalled negotiations almost led to his replacement by . . .


Current age: 63
Hunkpoint: 32
'80s hunky hit: St. Elsewhere

Mark Harmon St. Elsewhere Photo

Mark Harmon played the pre-McDreamy dreamy Dr. Bobby Caldwell on St. Elsewhere, the “Hill Street Blues set in a hospital” show that captivated viewers in the mid-80s. Like many of the show’s characters, he was put through the ringer: not only did Dr. Caldwell get his beautiful face slashed with a razorblade, his very active sex life got him infected with AIDS. His character died off screen a few seasons later.

His career never stalled, though, and right now Harmon is on top of his TV game. He’s the star of NCIS, now in its 12th season and averaging 20 million viewers a week in the U.S. He also helped create and launch its second spin-off, NCIS: New Orleans. He loves his work, he never appears in the tabloids, and he gets an executive producer credit on both shows.

He married another '80s star, Mork and Mindy’s Pam Dawber, in 1987, one year to the day after they met. And in case anyone doubted that he can be a real-life hero, in 1996 he saved two teenage boys from a car accident outside his home. Their car caught fire, so while Dawber called the police, he ran out with a sledgehammer from his garage, smashed the windows, and pulled the boys out to safety. Does it get any hunkier than that?

Among his St. Elsewhere co-stars was another actor you may have heard of, a certain . . .


Current age: 60
Hunkpoint: 28
'80s hunky hit: St. Elsewhere

Denzel Washington St. Elsewhere Photo

Denzel Washington is such a marquee-level movie star now that it’s hard to imagine him on TV as part of a large ensemble. He wasn’t even top-billed; thanks to alphabetizing, he was last actor listed in the regular opening credits, appearing well after co-stars like Ed Begley, Jr., and Howie Mandel, and usually in fewer scenes.

Now the winner of two Oscars, two Golden Globes, multiple NAACP Image Awards, a Tony, and more, he’s clearly come a long way from his days as “alley mugger #1” in Charles Bronson’s Death Wish and being the grapes in Fruit of the Loom commercials. He’s been in dozens of hit movies, a favorite of both critics and audiences almost every time. He’s taken on directing and producing as well. His next big acting project is a remake of the classic Hollywood western The Magnificent Seven, from his Training Day director Antoine Fuqua.

He’d already started his movie career during his run on St. Elsewhere, but he wasn’t the only busy actor on the set. One of his co-stars, William Daniels, was pulling double duty, providing the voice for the car on Knight Rider being driven around by . . .


Current age: 62
Hunkpoint: 30
'80s hunky hit: Knight Rider

David Hasselhoff Knight Rider Photo

Now ubiquitous and hilarious, back in 1982 David Hasselhoff was the still somewhat unknown stud behind the wheel of KITT, a Pontiac Firebird Trans Am equipped with artificial intelligence, and a personality. He played Michael Knight, a former undercover cop who started fresh with a new face, a new identity, and a millionaire backer.

As we all know now, "The Hoff" is much like Michael Knight: it doesn't matter what you do to him, he just keeps coming back. Whether he’s “big” in Germany, sitting on the judges' panel on talent shows on both sides of the Atlantic, starring in yet another reality show, or mocking his own image in Adam Sandler movies, he always comes up smiling and he keeps getting richer.

When Baywatch was canceled after one season, Hasselhoff invested his own money to bring it back, and it ran for ten seasons. The Guinness Book of World Records calls it the most watched TV show in the world, and Hasselhoff is now worth more than a hundred million dollars. “Laughing all the way to the bank” could have been written with him in mind.

And he's still at it. Seth MacFarlane has announced his appearance in the upcoming Ted 2, and "Hoff The Record" has been commissioned by a channel in the UK for later this year, starring Hasselhoff as a fictionalized version of himself, which he sort of already is. And we haven't even talked about his music career!

Hasselhoff, like many of our hunks, has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and his star just happens to share an address with . . .


Current age: 51
Hunkpoint: 24
'80s hunky hit: 21 Jump Street

Johnny Depp 21 Jump Street Photo

Johnny Depp is one of the most unlikely hunks in the group. With his feminine features, artistic quirks, and roles like Ed Wood, Tonto, and Sweeney Todd, he hardly seems hunky at all. But he became a teen heartthrob when he landed the role of Tommy Hanson, a police officer young enough to pass as a teenager and go undercover in high schools and colleges on 21 Jump Street.

To contrast his pin-up image, he started working with directors like John Waters and Tim Burton. Never one to do the obvious, he turned down the lead role in Speed (which went to Keanu Reeves), and after years of taking on edgy roles in oddball films, he hit the Hollywood mainstream big time as Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. He’s currently working on the fifth film in the series, along with another Alice in Wonderland movie and multiple other projects.

He had his bumpy patches. He once trashed a hotel room so thoroughly that rock star Roger Daltrey then 50, complained about the noise, as he had the neighboring room. Depp insisted that all the damage done was caused by an armadillo that had leapt out of the closet. But that’s all part of his rock star image. Depp has recorded with Oasis, and performed with Aerosmith, Willie Nelson, the Black Keys, and Marilyn Manson. He also filled in for Elvis Costello during a recording session for an album of “lost” Bob Dylan songs. Being a rock star keeps you hunky, we hear, despite your best efforts to the contrary; probably why he was named Sexiest Man Alive twice.

One of Depp’s 21 Jump Street co-stars was Peter DeLuise, who’s now a writer and director, but back in the early days, he made a movie called Listen To Me starring the one and only . . .


Current age: 44
Hunkpoint: 15
'80s hunky hit: Growing Pains

Kirk Cameron Growing Pains Photo

Kirk Cameron is the youngest of our 80s hunks, having hit stardom as Mike Seaver on Growing Pains at age 15. Riding a wave of undying tween adoration, Cameron co-starred with Dudley Moore in the 1987 hit Like Father Like Son, and then got his own series, Kirk. By the late '80s, he was on the cover of every teen magazine in sight, and earning fifty thousand dollars a week.

During the height of his Growing Pains fame, Cameron became a born-again Christian, and objected so constantly to the content of the show that co-star Alan Thicke suggested he consider pursuing Christian entertainment exclusively, as Growing Pains was “about as pablum as it gets.” Cameron ultimately took his advice and has since appeared in the Left Behind series as well as other Christian-themed films. Most recently, he starred in Saving Christmas, voted by users as the absolute worst movie ever made. Disagree? Show your support by heading to Cameron’s official website and ordering some official “Saving Christmas” coffee, which is described as “as bold as Kirk’s witness and as warm and friendly as this Christmas season.”

Cameron isn’t the only actor in the family, though. His sister, Candace, was in the cast of another 80s hit, Full House, which also starred . . .


Current age: 51
Hunkpoint: 24
'80s hunky hit: Full House

John Stamos Full House Photo

After first attaining hunk status as General Hospital’s Jackie Parrish, John Stamos kept it going through the late '80s and early '90s as Jesse Katsopolis, big fan of both Elvis Presley and his own hair, possibly in equal measure.

He recently reunited with most of the cast at the birthday party of Full House show creator Jeff Franklin, and is interested, as is the rest of the cast, in a possible reunion show. But he’s not just sitting on the sidelines, looking fabulous and waiting for a call; the man keeps busy. He’s guest-starred on Glee, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Two and a Half Men, Necessary Roughness, Galavant, and a series of memorable commercials for Dannon yogurt. He’s also starring in a new pilot for Fox.

We’re not sure if this is hunky or not, but he has a lifetime pass to Disneyworld. He also hosted his own web series in 2013 called “Losing It With John Stamos”, in which celebrities talked to him about losing their virginity. (We think he should have had Don Johnson on as a guest.)

He wasn’t the only '80s hunk to appear on Glee, though. The show also opened its doors to . . .


Current age: 54
Hunkpoint: 19
'80s hunky hit: The Dukes of Hazzard

John Schneider Dukes of Hazzard Photo

The Dukes of Hazzard chronicled the adventures of cousins Bo and Luke Duke as they raced around in a customized Dodge Charger causing wacky but good-natured redneck mischief in Hazzard County, Georgia. For his audition, John Schneider pretended to be a genuine country boy. He told them he was from Snailville, Georgia, which doesn’t actually exist, and that he’d graduated first in his class from the Georgia School of High Performance Driving, which also doesn’t exist. He drove a pick-up truck to the audition, wore ripped jeans, and when he arrived, put his feet up on the desk and cracked open a beer. In reality, he was a 19-year-old kid from Westchester, New York, who’d been acting since he was eight.

Since then, Schneider has popped up on GleeDesperate Housewives, and is known to Smallville fans as Jonathan “Pa” Kent. He’s had a number of hits as a country singer – over ten albums! — and he’s currently starring in Tyler Perry’s primetime soap The Haves and the Have Nots, OWN’s first scripted series. He also wrote and directed a horror movie, Smothered, released last year and shot mostly at Schneider Studios in Louisiana, where he now lives.

Our hunk round-up is complete, although we know we missed a few. TV in the '80s provided an abundance of hunkiness, so weigh in on your favorites, tell us who we missed, and then go get yourself some shoulder pads and binge view the night away.