Connors as Joe Mannix, 1968
August 15, 1925
Fresno, California, U.S.
|Died||January 26, 2017 (aged 91)|
Tarzana, California, U.S.
|Other names||Touch Connors|
|Alma mater||University of California, Los Angeles|
Mary Lou Willey
(m. 1949; his death 2017)
Krekor Ohanian (Armenian: Քրէկոր Օհանեան; August 15, 1925 – January 26, 2017), known professionally as Mike Connors, was an American actor best known for playing private detective Joe Mannix in the CBS television series Mannix from 1967–1975, a role which earned him a Golden Globe Award in 1970, the first of six straight nominations, as well as four consecutive Emmy nominations from 1970–1973. He starred in the short-lived series Tightrope! (1959–1960) and Today's FBI (1981–1982). Connors' acting career spanned six decades. In addition to his work on television, he appeared in numerous films, including Sudden Fear (1952), Situation Hopeless... But Not Serious (1965), Stagecoach (1966), Kiss the Girls and Make Them Die (1966), and Too Scared to Scream (1985), which he also produced.
Connors was born Krekor Ohanian, Jr. on August 15, 1925 in Fresno, California to Armenian parents Krekor Ohanian, Sr. (1881–1944) and Alice (née Surabian; 1898–1978). They married in 1915 and had six children: Paul I, Paul II, Dorothy M., Arpesri A., Krekor, and Eugene. His father was an attorney and represented many Armenians that had little money and couldn't speak English.
He was an avid basketball player in high school, who was nicknamed "Touch" by his teammates. During World War II, he served as an enlisted man in the United States Army Air Forces. After the war, he attended the University of California at Los Angeles on both a basketball scholarship and the G.I. Bill, where he played under coach John Wooden. Connors studied to become an attorney, like his father, and also went to law school. He was a member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity. After a basketball game, coach Wilbur Johns introduced Connors to his friend, director William A. Wellman, who liked Connors' voice and expressive face while he was playing basketball, and encouraged him to consider acting.
After becoming an actor, his agent Henry Willson thought the name "Ohanian" was too similar to the actor George O'Hanlon and gave him the stage name "Touch Connors". "Touch" was his basketball nickname, and Willson considered "Connors" to be a "good all-American name". Connors later stated he hated the name "from day one" and considered not using his real name the only big regret of his career. After getting the starring role in Tightrope!, Connors wanted to be credited as Ohanian but Columbia Pictures told him that he had already done too much work as Connors, though he was allowed to change his first name to Mike.
His film career started in the early 1950s. Connors made his acting debut in a supporting role opposite Joan Crawford and Jack Palance in the thriller Sudden Fear (1952). He had initially been denied an audition by producer Joseph Kaufman due to his lack of experience, but after sneaking into Republic Pictures and meeting director David Miller, Connors was given a chance to read the script and was offered the part.
Connors was cast in the critically acclaimed John Wayne film, Island in the Sky in which he was a crewman on one of the search-and-rescue planes. In 1956, he played an Amalekite herder in Cecil B. DeMille's The Ten Commandments.
He appeared in numerous television series, including the co-starring role in the 1955 episode "Tomas and the Widow" of the anthology series Frontier. He guest-starred on the early sitcoms, Hey, Jeannie! and The People's Choice. He guest-starred in two Rod Cameron syndicated crime dramas, City Detective and the Western-themed State Trooper, and played the villain in the first episode filmed (but second one aired) of ABC's smash hit Maverick, opposite James Garner in 1957.
Connors had roles in several of the earliest films Roger Corman directed: Five Guns West (1955), The Day the World Ended (1955), Swamp Women (1956), and The Oklahoma Woman (1956). Connors both starred in and was the executive producer of Flesh and the Spur (1956). He raised $117,000 for the film.
In 1958, Connors appeared in the title role of the episode "Simon Pitt", the series finale of the NBC Western Jefferson Drum, starring Jeff Richards as a frontier newspaper editor. He appeared in another NBC Western series, The Californians. That same year, Connors was cast as Miles Borden, a corrupt US Army lieutenant bitter over his $54 monthly pay, on NBC's Wagon Train in the episode "The Dora Gray Story", with Linda Darnell in the title role. About this time, he also appeared on an episode of NBC's Western series Cimarron City.
Other syndicated series he appeared in were The Silent Service, based on true stories of the submarine section of the United States Navy; Sheriff of Cochise, Whirlybirds, an aviation adventure series; and Rescue 8, based on stories of the Los Angeles County Fire Department. An episode of Studio 57 starring Connors and titled "Getaway Car" was proposed as a pilot for a series about the CHP to be called Motorcycle Cop.
Connors starred as an undercover police officer who infiltrated organized crime in Tightrope! (1959–1960). Despite the show's popularity, it was canceled after only one season. Connors stated in an interview that the show's primary sponsor, J.B. Williams, refused CBS president James Aubrey's request to move it to a later timeslot on a different day. The sponsor dropped Tightrope! and underwrote another program on another network. Connors also did not agree with the suggested change to add a sidekick, to be played by Don Sullivan. He thought the program would lose the suspense element, "Because the whole premise was this guy, all by himself, 'on a tightrope.' ... When he gets a sidekick, it loses the threat and the danger, and the whole premise is in the toilet."
Later, he was cast in the episode "The Aerialist" of the anthology series, Alcoa Presents: One Step Beyond. In 1963, he guest-starred as Jack Marson in the episode "Shadow of the Cougar" on the NBC modern Western series, Redigo, starring Richard Egan. In 1964, Connors appeared in a pinch-hit role for Raymond Burr as attorney Joe Kelly in the Perry Mason episode, "The Case of the Bullied Bowler". Connors was offered to become the new Perry Mason actor, but the producers had actually wanted to pressure Burr into re-signing his contract with the series.
In 1964, Connors had a role in the Jack Lemmon comedy Good Neighbor Sam and was the leading man to Susan Hayward and Bette Davis in Where Love Has Gone. He co-starred with Robert Redford in one of his earliest film roles, the World War II black comedy Situation Hopeless... But Not Serious (1965), in which Connors and Redford played American soldiers taken prisoner by a German villager played by Alec Guinness. Connors played the card shark in the remake of Stagecoach (1966).
Connors was strongly considered to play Matt Helm in The Silencers (1966), but that role had eventually gone to Dean Martin. However, his audition had impressed Columbia Pictures and Connors was instead cast in the similar James Bond spoof film Kiss the Girls and Make Them Die (1966). Connors himself performed the stuntwork of dangling from a rope ladder attached to a helicopter flying off the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio when the local stuntman refused to do it.
Connors became best known for playing the private investigator Joe Mannix in the detective series Mannix. The series ran for eight seasons from 1967 to 1975. During the first season of the series, Joe Mannix works for Intertect, a large Los Angeles detective agency run by his superior Lew Wickersham (Joseph Campanella). From the second season onward, Mannix opens his own detective agency and is assisted by his secretary Peggy Fair (Gail Fisher).
Mannix was originally produced by Desilu Productions (later absorbed by Paramount Television). Then-president Lucille Ball pushed for CBS to keep the show on air by removing the high-tech computers and making Mannix an independent detective. This move enabled the show to become a long-running hit for the network.
Connors performed his own stunts on the series. During the filming of the pilot episode, he broke his wrist and dislocated his shoulder.
In 1970, Connors won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Television Series Drama. He was nominated for the Golden Globe Award six times from 1970–1975 and was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series four times from 1970–1973.
When discussing the success of the series in an interview, Connors stated: "The show itself started a whole new era of detective shows, because this wasn’t the usual cynical private eye à la Humphrey Bogart. It was more a show about an all-round normal human being. The character of Joe Mannix could be taken advantage of by a pretty face, he could shed a tear on an emotional level, he was very close to his father and his family, so he was more a normal personality with normal behaviour."
Connors was able to work with his boss Lucille Ball on-screen during a cross-promotion episode of her Here's Lucy series in 1971. The episode, which opened Lucy's fourth season, is titled "Lucy and Mannix are Held Hostage". This was notable as the first episode shot at Universal Studios, after Ball ceased producing her program at Paramount Studios.
Mannix was not cancelled due to bad ratings and remained a hit show even in its final season. The show was taken off the air due to a dispute between CBS and Paramount. Paramount had sold the rights to air Mannix reruns to rival network ABC without informing CBS. When CBS discovered the deal, the executives quickly decided to cancel Mannix in order to avoid losing viewership for new episodes to the reruns.
He narrated J. Michael Hagopian's 1975 documentary film The Forgotten Genocide, one of the first full-length features on the Armenian Genocide. The documentary was nominated for two Emmys. In 1995, Connors narrated another Armenian documentary by Hagopian, Ararat Beckons.
In 1976, Connors played Karl Ohanian in the television film The Killer Who Wouldn't Die. Producers and writers Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts, who were also producers for Mannix, wanted the character to have Connors' real last name. The film was intended to be the pilot for a new ABC series titled Ohanian, about an Armenian-American former homicide detective who is now a charter boat skipper. However, the series was not picked up.
Connors had roles in the thriller films Avalanche Express (1979) and Nightkill (1980). He starred as a bureau veteran who mentors a team of agents in Today's FBI (1981–1982). The series only lasted one season. Connors both starred in and produced the independent horror film Too Scared to Scream (1985).
He played Air Force Colonel Harrison "Hack" Peters in Herman Wouk's 1988 World War II-based miniseries War and Remembrance. Connors hosted the 1989 series Crimes of the Century. He voiced the character Chipacles in the Disney animated series Hercules from 1998 to 1999.
Connors married his wife Mary Lou Willey on September 10, 1949, when they were both UCLA students. They had two children, a son, Matthew Gunnar Ohanian (b. 1958), and a daughter, Dana Lee Connors (b. 1960). His son Matthew was diagnosed with schizophrenia at age 15. Matthew predeceased his father, dying of heart failure in 2007. Through his daughter Dana, he has one granddaughter.
After his son's diagnoses, Connors became active in charitable organizations for mental disorder patients. He was a spokesperson for the National Alliance on Mental Illness. In 1998, the UC Irvine College of Medicine's Brain Imaging Center Committee awarded Connors with the Silver Ribbon Award for his contributions.
He did a public service announcement for the Armenian Eye Care Project.
|1952||Sudden Fear||Junior Kearney|
|1953||The 49th Man||Lt. Magrew|
|1953||Sky Commando||Lt. Hobson Lee|
|1953||Island in the Sky||Gainer|
|1954||Day of Triumph||Andrew|
|1955||Five Guns West||Hale Clinton|
|1955||The Twinkle in God's Eye||Lou|
|1955||Day the World Ended||Tony Lamont|
|1956||Swamp Women||Bob Matthews|
|1956||The Oklahoma Woman||Tom Blake|
|1956||Flesh and the Spur||Stacy Doggett||Also executive producer|
|1956||The Ten Commandments||Amalekite Herder|
|1956||Shake, Rattle & Rock!||Garry Nelson|
|1957||Voodoo Woman||Ted Bronson|
|1958||Suicide Battalion||Major Matt McCormack|
|1958||Live Fast, Die Young||Rick|
|1960||The Dalton That Got Away||Russ Dalton|
|1964||Panic Button||Frank Pagano|
|1964||Good Neighbor Sam||Howard Ebbets|
|1964||Where Love Has Gone||Major Luke Miller|
|1965||Situation Hopeless... But Not Serious||Sgt. Lucky Finder|
|1966||Kiss the Girls and Make Them Die||Kelly|
|1985||Too Scared to Scream||Lt. Alex Dinardo||Also producer|
|1989||Fist Fighter||Billy Vance|
|1993||Public Enemy #2||Himself|
|1994||William Saroyan: The Man, the Writer||Narrator||Voice|
|1997||James Dean: Race with Destiny||Jack Warner|
|2000||The Extreme Adventures of Super Dave||Grandpa Osborne||Uncredited|
|2003||Nobody Knows Anything!||Joe Mannix|
|1954||The Ford Television Theatre||Christopher Ames||Episode: "Yours for a Dream"|
|1954||Mr. & Mrs. North||Mark Willard||Episode: "Murder for Sale"|
|1955||City Detective||Massey||Episode: "Baby in the Basket"|
|1955||The Lineup||Episode: "The Messenger Case"|
|1955||Frontier||Tomas||Episode: "Tomas and the Widow"|
|1955||Schlitz Playhouse of Stars||Mel Dunlap / Lou Renaldi||2 episodes|
|1955||The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp||Pat Smith||Episode: "The Big Baby Contest"|
|1956||Have Camera Will Travel||Larry||Television film|
|1956||Dr. Hudson's Secret Journal||Episode: "The Diana Story"|
|1956||The Millionaire||Victor Volante||Episode: "The Victor Volante Story"|
|1956||The Loretta Young Show||Al Kiner||Episode: "Now a Brief Word"|
|1956||The Adventures of Jim Bowie||Rafe Bradford||Episode: "Broomstick Wedding"|
|1956||Gunsmoke||Bostick||Episode: "The Mistake"|
|1956||The People's Choice||Bob Staples||Episode: "Sock and the Law"|
|1956–1959||State Trooper||Jim Madison / Jim Herndon||2 episodes|
|1957||Hey, Jeannie!||Lash Connor||Episode: "Jeannie, the Westerner"|
|1957||Sheriff of Cochise||Jess Stiles||Episode: "Husband and Wife"|
|1957||Code 3||Bill Dalhart||Episode: "The Water Skier"|
|1957||Lux Video Theatre||Glen Kramer||Episode: "The Latch Key"|
|1957||The Silent Service||Don Melhop||Episode: "The Ordeal of S-38"|
|1957||Those Whiting Girls||Hotel Guest||Episode: "The Trio"|
|1957||M Squad||Pete Wikowlski||Episode: "Pete Loves Mary"|
|1957||Have Gun – Will Travel||Johnny Dart||Episode: "The Bride"|
|1957||The Gale Storm Show||Jerry Moss||Episode: "Mardi Gras"|
|1957||Maverick||Sheriff Barney Fillmore / Ralph Jordan||2 episodes|
|1957||The Walter Winchell File||Dave Hopper||Episode: "The Steep Hill"|
|1957–1959||Whirlybirds||Tom Grimaldi / Wally Otis||2 episodes|
|1958||Wagon Train||Lt. Miles Borden||Episode: "The Dora Gray Story"|
|1958||Telephone Time||Cy Yedor||Episode: "The Checkered Flag"|
|1958||Official Detective||Martin Whiting||Episode: "The Cover-Up"|
|1958||Studio 57||Patrolman Jeff Saunders / Hap Gordon||2 episodes|
|1958||Cheyenne||Roy Simmons||Episode: "Dead to Rights"|
|1958||Target||Episode: "Death Makes a Phone Call"|
|1958||The Texan||Larry Enright||Episode: "The Edge of the Cliff"|
|1958||Cimarron City||Bill Thatcher||Episode: "Hired Hand"|
|1958||Rescue 8||Joe Starky||Episode: "Find That Bomb!"|
|1958||Jefferson Drum||Simon Pitt||Episode: "Simon Pitt"|
|1958||Lawman||Hal Daniels||Episode: "Lady in Question"|
|1959||The Rough Riders||Randall Garrett||Episode: "Wilderness Trace"|
|1959||Bronco||Hurd Elliott||Episode: "School for Cowards"|
|1959||Alcoa Presents: One Step Beyond||Mario Patruzzio||Episode: "The Aerialist"|
|1959||The Californians||Charles Cora||Episode: "The Bell Tolls"|
|1959||Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer||Marty / Lou Torrey||2 episodes|
|1959–1960||Tightrope!||Nick Stone (undercover agent)||37 episodes|
|1962||The Untouchables||Eddie O'Gara||Episode: "The Eddie O'Gara Story"|
|1962||The Expendables||Mike||Television film|
|1963||Redigo||Jack Marston||Episode: "Shadow of the Cougar"|
|1964||Perry Mason||Joe Kelly||Episode: "The Case of the Bullied Bowler"|
|1967–1975||Mannix||Joe Mannix||194 episodes|
Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Drama (1970)
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Drama (1971–1975)
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series (1970–1973)
|1968–1970||The Red Skelton Show||Plastic Surgeon / Airline Pilot / Henry Pringle / Himself / Federal Witness||3 episodes|
|1971||Here's Lucy||Joe Mannix||Episode: "Lucy and Mannix Are Held Hostage"|
|1973||Beg, Borrow, or Steal||Vic Cummings||Television film|
|1973||Bob Hope Special||Joe Mannix||Private Eyes spoof skit with Hope as "Cannon"|
|1976||The Killer Who Wouldn't Die||Karl Ohanian||Television film|
|1976||Charo||Gen. George Washington||Television film|
|1976||Revenge For A Rape||Travis Green||Television film|
|1977||Police Story||Curtis 'Manny' Mandell||Episode: "Stigma"|
|1978||Long Journey Back||Vic Casella||Television film|
|1979||The Death of Ocean View Park||Sam Jackson||Television film|
|1979||High Midnight||Capt. Lou Mikalich||Television film|
|1981–1982||The Love Boat||Mark Hayward / Sidney Sloan||4 episodes|
|1981–1982||Today's FBI||Ben Slater||18 episodes|
|1984||Earthlings||Captain Jim Adams||Television film|
|1984||The Fall Guy||Himself||Episode: "Private Eyes"|
|1988–1989||War and Remembrance||Col. Harrison 'Hack' Peters||4 episodes|
|1989||Alfred Hitchcock Presents||Robert Logan||Episode: "Driving Under the Influence"|
|1989–1995||Murder, She Wrote||Boyce Brown / Walter Murray||3 episodes|
|1993||Armen and Bullik||Joe 'Uncle Do Do' Armen||Television film|
|1993||The Commish||James Hayden||Episode: "Scali, P.I."|
|1993||Hart to Hart Returns||Bill McDowell||Television film|
|1994||Burke's Law||Jack Duncan||Episode: "Who Killed the Anchorman?"|
|1997||Diagnosis: Murder||Joe Mannix||Episode: "Hard-Boiled Murder"|
|1998||Walker, Texas Ranger||Judge Arthur McSpadden||Episode: "Code of the West"|
|1998–1999||Hercules||Chipacles||Voice, 10 episodes|
|2007||Two and a Half Men||Hugo||Episode: "Prostitutes and Gelato", (final appearance)|
Awards and nominations
|1970||Golden Globe Awards||Best Actor – Television Series Drama||Mannix||Won|
|1970||Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series||Mannix||Nominated|
|1971||Golden Globe Awards||Best Actor – Television Series Drama||Mannix||Nominated|
|1971||Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series||Mannix||Nominated|
|1972||Golden Globe Awards||Best Actor – Television Series Drama||Mannix||Nominated|
|1972||Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series||Mannix||Nominated|
|1973||Golden Globe Awards||Best Actor – Television Series Drama||Mannix||Nominated|
|1973||Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series||Mannix||Nominated|
|1974||Golden Globe Awards||Best Actor – Television Series Drama||Mannix||Nominated|
|1975||Golden Globe Awards||Best Actor – Television Series Drama||Mannix||Nominated|
- Grode, Eric (January 27, 2017). "Mike Connors, Long-Running TV Sleuth in 'Mannix,' Dies at 91". The New York Times. Retrieved January 27, 2017.
- Weaver 2003, p. 17.
- Kelsey, Juliett (April 1999). "Famous and Formerly Enlisted" (PDF). Air Force Magazine. Air Force Association. Retrieved May 31, 2018.
- UCLA Yearbook (1947), pages 454–455
- "Actor Mike Connors radio interview with Mike Connors - 2014". Connors' Corner (Interview). Interviewed by Mike Connors. May 2014. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
- Weaver 2003, p. 19–20.
- Weaver 2003, p. 20–21.
- Barnes, Mike (January 26, 2017). "Mike Connors, Principled Private Detective on 'Mannix,' Dies at 91". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
- Lentz III, Harris M. (2018). Obituaries in the Performing Arts, 2017. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company. p. 80. ISBN 978-1-4766-7032-4.
- "Mike Connors: "I didn't want to just walk through the part of Mannix when it was so successful"". Film Talk. December 22, 2015. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
- Weaver 2003, p. 24.
- Terrace, Vincent (2013). Encyclopedia of Television Pilots, 1937–2012. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company. p. 105. ISBN 978-0-7864-7445-5.
- Weaver 2003, p. 29.
- Interview by Paul & Donna ParlaSULLIVAN’S TRAVELS IN HOLLYWOOD An Interview with ‘B’ Monster Movie Hero Don Sullivan copyright 2008 Paul Parla/Anthony Di Salvo
- Weaver 2003, p. 30.
- Weaver 2003, p. 33.
- Paul, JoAnn M. (2014). "1". And Now, Back to Mannix. Duncan, Oklahoma: BearManor Media. ISBN 978-1-59393-565-8.
- Bowie, Stephen (May 27, 2014). "The long-running private eye series Mannix was brutal, stylish comfort food". The A.V. Club. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
- "How Johnny Carson indirectly caused the death of 'Mannix'". MeTV. October 5, 2017. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
- Pedersen, Erik (January 26, 2017). "Mike Connors Dies: 'Mannix' Star Was 91". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
- Whitehorn, Alan (2015). The Armenian Genocide: The Essential Reference Guide. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO. p. 45. ISBN 978-1-61069-687-6.
- Weaver 2003, p. 20.
- Scott, Vernon (March 30, 1976). "Armenian Part Just The Thing For Mike". The Desert Sun. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
- Canby, Vincent (October 19, 1979). "Film: 'Avalanche Express':Snow Job". The New York Times. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
- Weaver 2003, p. 34.
- Hamilton, Anita (January 27, 2017). "Celebrating Seniors - Mike Connors Turns 90". 50 Plus World. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
- Anderson, Troy (December 17, 2008). "MANNIX: THE SECOND SEASON". AndersonVision. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
- "Mike Connors, l'interprète de Mannix est mort à l'âge de 91 ans". La Dépêche du Midi (in French). January 27, 2017. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
- "Cinq infos insolites que vous ignorez (peut-être) sur Charles Aznavour". Le Dauphiné libéré (in French). October 1, 2018. Retrieved October 1, 2018.
- "Charles Aznavour : des amis, beaucoup d'amour et une très grande famille". Le Figaro (in French). October 2, 2018. Retrieved October 2, 2018.
- Weaver 2003, p. 35.
- "GOP Convention, Day 1, Session 2". AP Archive. July 14, 1980. Retrieved January 27, 2017.
- Gizzi, John (January 28, 2017). "TV's 'Mannix,' Mike Connors Was Active Republican Campaigner". Newsmax. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
- Saperstein, Pat (January 26, 2017). "Mike Connors, 'Mannix' Star, Dies at 91". Variety. ISSN 0042-2738. Retrieved January 27, 2017.
- "The Cover-Up". Classic TV Archives. Retrieved October 21, 2016.
- Brooks, Tim; Marsh, Earle F. (2009). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946–Present. New York: Random House. p. 1394. ISBN 978-0-307-48320-1.
- Weaver, Tom (2003). Eye on Science Fiction: 20 Interviews with Classic SF and Horror Filmmakers. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company. ISBN 0-7864-1657-2.
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