HOLLYWOOD -- Actor Tom Selleck, star of the 'Magnum P.I.' TV series, sued the National Enquirer for $36 million Thursday, claiming he was libeled in three stories published by the tabloid last year.
Selleck is the latest of a dozen Hollywood celebrities to seek damages from the newspaper, recently was forced to pay $800,000 to actress Carol Burnett in a much publicized case.
'My reason for bringing this suit is primarily to deter (the newspaper) from making continuous false and defamatory statements and, in fact, contriving entire articles where there is no factual basis,' Selleck said in a prepared statement.
Selleck's father, Robert, filed a similar suit Thursday against another tabloid, The Globe, seeking $6 million damages for a story titled 'Tom Selleck's Love Secrets -- by His Father.'
The actor's suit charged the Enquirer with libel for three unrelated stories published in 1982.
The first, published March 9, was titled 'TV's Magnum Becomes a Real Macho Man.' It concerned Selleck's 'purported drinking and partying' and implied the actor has 'been consumed' by the character he portrays, an aide said.
The second story, published April 6, was titled 'Blockbuster Romance Spells End to Magnum's Secret Heartbreak.' The story linked him to Victoria Principal of the 'Dallas' series, although he reportedly has never met the actress.
The third story, published Nov. 9, was titled 'Here's the Poster Tom Selleck Didn't Want You to See.' It said Selleck 'blew his stack' over an unauthorized drawing depicting the actor bare-chested.
Attorney Jay Lavely said Selleck is seeking $5 million in general damages and $10 in punitive damages on each of the first two counts, and $1 million general and $5 million punitive on the third.
Enquirer editors were not immediately available for comment.
The most publicized suit against the Enquirer was won by Carol Burnett, who was awarded $1.6 million by a jury in 1981 for a story implying she was drunk in a Washington nightclub. The award was cut in half in subsequent appeals.
Other entertainment personalities filing suit against the Enquirer have included Rudy Vallee, Rory Calhoun, Ed McMahon, Phil Silvers, the late Paul Lynde, Racquel Welch, Gary Grant, Richard Pryor, Helen Reddy and David Parlour, former husband of Jane Powell.