Hillerman and Betty White, 1977.
John Benedict Hillerman|
December 20, 1932
Denison, Texas, USA
Hillerman was born in Denison, Texas, the son of Christopher Benedict Hillerman, a gas station owner, and Lenora Joan (née Medlinger). His father was the grandson of immigrants from Germany and France. His mother was the daughter of immigrants from Austria and Germany. Young Hillerman grew up in Denison and attended St. Xavier's Academy.
After graduation, he attended the University of Texas at Austin for three years where he majored in journalism. In 1953, he joined the United States Air Force, serving for four years and achieving the rank of Sergeant. During his years of military service, he worked with various theatrical groups, and on his discharge he moved to New York City to study at the American Theatre Wing. In 1957, he began his career in professional theater.
Hillerman appeared on Broadway in 1959 and worked in live performances in a variety of venues before making his motion picture debut in 1970. He had roles in such noteworthy films as The Last Picture Show (1971), What's Up, Doc? (1972), High Plains Drifter (1973), Paper Moon (1973), Blazing Saddles (1974), and Chinatown (1974). His other roles include Lucky Lady (1975), At Long Last Love (1975), and a small appearance in the comedy film Up the Creek (1984).
In 1975, he was a co-star in Ellery Queen as Simon Brimmer, a radio detective who hosted a live radio show and tried to outsmart Ellery Queen (Jim Hutton). From 1976 to 1980, he had a recurring role as Mr. Conners on the television series One Day at a Time, and he co-starred as Betty White's ex-husband on the short-lived The Betty White Show in 1977.
He is probably best remembered for his role as former British Army Sergeant Major Jonathan Quayle Higgins III ("Higgins") on the television series Magnum, P.I. (1980–88). Hillerman learned to speak with the English accent of Higgins by watching and listening to performances by Laurence Olivier. He had acted as Magnum's foil and often used Higgins's catchphrase, "Oh my God!" whenever Magnum did something Hillerman's character would probably call, "Utterly ridiculous and stupid!"
In 1982 John Hillerman played in the television pilot of Tales of the Gold Monkey, where he played a German villain by the name of "Fritz the Monocle".
In 1984, he hosted the David Hemmings-directed puzzle video Money Hunt: The Mystery of the Missing Link. In 1990, Hillerman returned to television to perform for one season as Lloyd Hogan in the series The Hogan Family. That same year, Hillerman portrayed Dr. Watson to Edward Woodward's Sherlock Holmes in Hands of a Murderer.
In 1993, he appeared in Berlin Break for one season. He played the role of Mac Mackenzie, a former spy and currently the proprietor of "Mac's", a bar in West Berlin considered to be neutral territory during the Cold War. He teamed up with two jobless spies as investigators: Valentin Renko (Nicholas Clay), an ex-KGB agent, and Willy Richter (Kai Wulff), an ex-BND (West German secret service) operative. The show reunited him with Jeff MacKay, who portrayed "Mac" MacReynolds in Magnum P.I..
|1970||They Call Me MISTER Tibbs||Reporter||Uncredited|
|1971||The Last Picture Show||Teacher|
|1972||What's Up, Doc?||Hotel Manager Kaltenborn|
|1972||The Carey Treatment||Jenkins|
|1972||The Outside Man||Manager|
|1973||The Thief Who Came to Dinner||Edmund Lasker|
|1973||High Plains Drifter||Bootmaker|
|1973||Paper Moon||Deputy Hardin/Jess Hardin|
|1973||The Naked Ape||Psychiatrist|
|1974||Blazing Saddles||Howard Johnson|
|1974||The Nickel Ride||Carl|
|1975||At Long Last Love||Rodney James|
|1975||The Day of the Locust||Ned Grote|
|1981||History of the World, Part I||Rich Man (French Revolution)|
|1984||Up the Creek||Dean Burch|
|1989||Gummibärchen küßt man nicht||Padre|
|1996||A Very Brady Sequel||Dr. Whitehead|
|1971||Sweet, Sweet Rachel||Medical Examiner||Television film|
|1972||The Sixth Sense||Adrian Weems||Episode: "Once Upon a Chilling"|
|1972||Mannix||Larry Lawton||Episode: "Light and Shadow"|
|1972||The Great Man's Whiskers||Major Underwood||Television film|
|1973||Mannix||J. H. Morell||Episode: "Silent Target"|
|1974||Maude||Drunk||Episode: "The Commuter Station"|
|1974||Kojak||Mark Gallant||Episode: "The Only Way Out"|
|1974||The Law||Thomas Rachel||Television film|
|1975||Mannix||Norman Thompson||Episode: "Search for a Dead Man"|
|1975||The Bob Crane Show||Dean Harrington||Episode: "The Son of the Campus Capers"|
|1975–76||Ellery Queen||Simon Brimmer||8 episodes|
|1976||Serpico||Raoul Christie||Episode: "Rapid Fire"|
|1976||Hawaii Five-O||Donald Blair||Episode: "Man on Fire"|
|1976||Wonder Woman||Conrad Steigler||Episode: "Wonder Woman vs Gargantua"|
|1976–80||One Day at a Time||Mr. Connors||6 episodes|
|1977||Delvecchio||Dr. Augustus Hamilton||Episode: "Licensed to Kill"|
|1977–78||The Betty White Show||John Elliott||14 episodes|
|1978||Hawaii Five-O||Nelson Bodine||Episode: "A Stranger in His Grave"|
|1978||Little House on the Prairie||Sterling Murdock||Episode: "Harriet's Happening"|
|1979||The Love Boat||Ed Hartnett||2 episodes|
|1980||Young Maverick||McBurney||Episode: "Makin' Tracks"|
|1980||Hart to Hart||Victor Sutter||Episode: "Cruise At Your Own Risk"|
|1980||Tenspeed and Brown Shoe||William Whitney||Episode: "Diamonds Aren't Forever"|
|1980||Lou Grant||Sturbridge||Episode: "Pack"|
|1980–88||Magnum, P.I.||Jonathan Higgins|| 158 episodes|
Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film (1983, 1985, 1987–88)
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series (1984–86)
|1982||Tales of the Gold Monkey||Monocle||2 episodes|
|1982||Simon & Simon||Jonathan Higgins||Episode: "Emeralds Are Not a Girl's Best Friend"|
|1983||The Love Boat||Manfred||Episode: "The Last Case"|
|1986||Murder, She Wrote||Jonathan Higgins||Episode: "Magnum on Ice"|
|1989||Around the World in 80 Days||Sir Francis Commarty||3 episodes|
|1990||Hands of a Murderer||Dr. John Watson||Television film|
|1990–91||The Hogan Family||Lloyd Hogan||13 episodes|
|1992||Murder, She Wrote||Edgar Greenstreet||Episode: "Murder on Madison Avenue"|
Awards and nominations
|1982||Magnum, P.I.||Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV||Nominated|
|1984||Magnum, P.I.||Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series||Nominated|
|1985||Magnum, P.I.||Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series||Nominated|
|1986||Magnum, P.I.||Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series||Nominated|
|1987||Magnum, P.I.||Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series||Won|
- "John Hillerman Biography". filmreference.com. Retrieved July 4, 2014.
- Sheff, David (April 18, 1983). "The Lean Years Are Over for John Hillerman, Who's Finding a Magnum of Success in Hawaii". People. Retrieved July 4, 2014.
- Quttman, Monika (June 17, 1987). "'Higgins' Not Really British". The Victoria Advocate. Tribune Media Services. Retrieved July 4, 2014.
- "John Hillerman - Magnum p.i. - TOM SELLECK INFORMATIONSCENTER". Retrieved 21 July 2016.
- "Nominees/Winners". emmys.com. 1984. Retrieved July 4, 2014.
- "Nominees/Winners". emmys.com. 1985. Retrieved July 4, 2014.
- "Nominees/Winners". emmys.com. 1986. Retrieved July 4, 2014.
- "Nominees/Winners". emmys.com. 1987. Retrieved July 4, 2014.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to John Hillerman.|
- John Hillerman at the Internet Movie Database
- John Hillerman at the Internet Broadway Database
- John Hillerman at the Internet Off-Broadway Database