John Hillerman, who was known for playing Tom Selleck‘s estate caretaker Jonathan Quayle Higgins III on Magnum P.I., died Thursday, aged 84.


The actor made his career out of playing snooty characters, and received four Emmy nods in consecutive years for his portrayal of Higgins. He took the award home in 1987. He also reprised the role on a few episodes of Murder, She Wrote and Simon & Simon.

Family spokeswoman Lori De Waal announced that the actor died at his home in Thursday, and a cause of death has not been determined or released. Despite often playing condescending British types, Hillerman was born in a tiny railroad town in Texas.

Other roles included Simon Brimmer on Ellery Queen, a radio personality who thought himself a clever sleuth, and John Elliot on The Betty White Show. He also acted in ValerieOne Day at a Time, and Blazing Saddles. Hillerman began acting in 1971 at age 39. His first role was in the 1971 Western film Lawman. In the same year, he landed a small role in Peter Bogdanovich‘s The Last Picture Show. He got the Mel Brooks classic in 1974 and then a spot in Roman Polanski‘s noir classic Chinatown that same year.

Prior to film and TV acting, Hillerman studied journalism at the University of Texas and became a sergeant in the Air Force. He later decided to pursue a career in acting and got his first professional theatrical credit in Middleton, Ohio. He learned his signature British accent at the Cincinnati Playhouse, where he appeared in many shows.

The actor’s last performance was in 1996’s A Very Brady Sequel.

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