John Hillerman as Simon Brimmer
John Hillerman was born on December 20, 1932 in Denison, Texas. Fans invariably type John Hillerman, the sophisticated keeper of the estate, as British. With his clipped mustache and cool demeanor, he looks and talks like the master of an English country estate. Only those who have read his publicity know that he was born in the railroad town in Texas named Denison, the son of the Young John Hillerman owner of a gasoline service station.

Hillerman wanted to be an actor even when he was a student at St. Xavier's Academy. After graduation, he attended the University of Texas at Austin for three years and then did a four-year stint in the Air Force. During his years in uniform he worked with various theatrical groups, and on his discharge, he went to New York to study a the American Theatre Wing. In 1957, he began his career in professional theater as the resident juvenile at Chatauqua Playhouse in Middleton, Ohio. (See photo at right of a very young John Hillerman onstage.)

John then went on to appear onstage Higgins of Magnum in productions at The Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park (Middletown, for those of you who don't know, is the "middle town" between Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio), where he honed his art and brought his aristocratic English accent to Hollywood marketability.

While the majority of his fans know him for the many roles he played in television's Magnum P.I. in the 1980's (most notably, Higgins - see photo at left), fans of Ellery Queen know that character started life as Simon Brimmer.

The character of Simon allowed Ellery to have direct competition in his related field, and Simon's arrogance and self-assurance made Ellery's Simon Brimmer lack there-of all the more appealing to both the other characters and to the viewing audience.

Simon was a Radio personality (he saw himself as a great celebrity) sleuth who portrayed himself in ongoing serial mysteries. But he could not resist the idea of getting involved in real-life murder cases in an effort to boost ratings, boost his own ego, and the coup de gras - to beat out Ellery to finding the true murderer. As it happened, however, while Simon often ferreted out some valuable clues - that oft times were of tremendous help to Ellery - he always chose the wrong suspect as the guilty party. For a more in-depth look at the character of the suave Simon Brimmer, see our retrospective titled "Call Simon Brimmer" by Barbara Peterson.   We think John Hillerman's performance as Simon Brimmer was simply delicious.

Here is a complete filmography for John Hillerman:

  • Very Brady Sequel 1996 as Dr. Whitehead
  • Berlin Break 1992 (TV Series) as Mac MacKenzie
  • Hands of a Murderer 1990 (TV) as Doctor Watson
  • Hogan Family 1988 (TV Series) as Lloyd Hogan
  • Gummibärchen küßt man nicht 1989
  • Street of Dreams 1988 as Raymond Kepler
  • Assault and Matrimony 1987 (TV) as Cyril
  • Up the Creek 1984 as Dean Burch
  • Little Gloria... Happy at Last 1982 (TV)
  • History of the World: Part I 1981 (TV) as Rich Man
  • Magnum P.I. 1980 (TV Series) as Jonathan Quayle Higgins III
  • Magnum P.I. 1980 (TV) as Higgins
  • Marathon 1980 (TV)
  • The Murder That Wouldn't Die 1983 (TV) as Mr. Peacock
  • Sunburn 1979 as Webb
  • Betrayal 1978 (TV) as Victor Slavin
  • A Guide for the Married Woman 1978 (TV)
  • The Betty White Show 1977 (TV Series) as John Elliot
  • Audrey Rose 1977 (TV) as Scott Velie
  • Kill Me If You Can 1977 (TV)
  • Relentless 1977 (TV)
  • The Invasion of Johnson County 1976 (TV)
  • One Day at a Time 1975 (TV Series) Mr. Conners
  • The Day of the Locust 1975 as Ned Grole
  • At Long Last Love 1975 as Rodney James
  • Ellery Queen 1975 (TV Series) as Simon Brimmer
  • Ellery Queen: Too Many Suspects 1975 (TV Movie) as Simon Brimmer
  • Lucky Lady 1975 as McTeague
  • Chinatown 1974 as Yelburton
  • The Last Angry Man 1974 (TV) as Tree Inspector
  • Blazing Saddles 1974 as Howard Johnson
  • The Law 1974 (TV)
  • The Nickel Ride 1974 as Carl
  • Paper Moon 1973 as Deputy Sheriff Jess Hardin
  • The Thief Who Came to Dinner 1973 as Lasker
  • Funerale a Los Angeles 1973 as Department store manager
  • The Naked Ape 1973
  • Skyjacked 1972 as Walter Brandt
  • One Little Indian 1973 (TV) as Pvt. Dixon
  • Bless the Beasts and the Children 1972 (TV) as Wheaties
  • Skyjacked 1972 as John
  • What's Up, Doc? 1972 as Hotel Manager
  • The Carey Treatment 1972 as Jenkins
  • High Plains Drifter 1972 as Bootmaker
  • Lawman 1971 as Totts
  • The Great Man's Whiskers 1971 (TV)
  • Honky 1971
  • The Last Picture Show 1971 as Teacher
  • Sweet, Sweet Rachel 1971 as Medical Examiner

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