Robert D. Selleck; Noted Valley Real Estate Developer


Robert D. Selleck, a well-known San Fernando Valley real estate developer who was also the father of actor Tom Selleck, has died. He was 79.

Selleck died Wednesday from complications during surgery at USC Medical Center.

Born in Lapeer, Mich., Selleck attended Ohio Wesleyan University and served in the Army Air Corps during World War II. He left Detroit in 1948 for Van Nuys, a predominantly agricultural area that was just beginning to sprout suburban communities.

Selleck was offered a job with Coldwell Banker that offered no salary and no weekly guarantee against future sales. He made his earnings solely on commission.


“It was a little adventurous; you’ve got to be young to do that,” Selleck told The Times in a 1996 interview.

But his success eventually landed him the post of senior vice president and director of corporate communications for Coldwell Banker Commercial Group. He later established the Selleck Company for Real Estate Development and Consultation. Based in Westlake Village, the firm was credited with reviving the former General Motors plant in Van Nuys. The development of a shopping complex on that site has had a major effect on the economic revitalization of the area.

He served as director of the Los Angeles Olympic Organization Committee, commissioner and president of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission, commissioner and president of the Los Angeles Board of Recreation and Parks Commission and director and vice president of Valley Presbyterian Hospital and he participated on the Southern California Committee for the 1984 Olympic Games.

Selleck received various awards and commendations, including the Fernando Award, which is given to the Valley resident who best exemplifies the spirit of volunteerism. He and his wife, Martha, were presented with the Golden Hands Award by the Boys and Girls Club of the San Fernando Valley and the First Premier Parents Award from the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation.

In addition to his wife and actor son, Selleck is survived by two other sons, Robert D. Selleck II and Daniel Fife Selleck; a daughter, Martha Selleck Ketchum; 14 grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

A memorial fund has been established; donations may be sent c/o Valley Presbyterian Hospital, 15107 Vanowen St., Van Nuys, CA 91401.