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Mike Connors
Connors as Joe Mannix, 1968
Born Krekor Ohanian
(1925-08-15)August 15, 1925
Fresno, California, U.S.
Died January 26, 2017(2017-01-26) (aged 91)
Tarzana, California, U.S.
Cause of death Leukemia
Other names Touch Connors
Alma mater University of California, Los Angeles
Occupation Actor
Years active 1952–2007
Political party Republican[1]
Spouse(s) Mary Lou Willey (m. 1949–2017)
Children 2

Krekor Ohanian (August 15, 1925 – January 26, 2017), known professionally as Mike Connors, was an Armenian-American actor best known for playing private detective Joe Mannix in the CBS television series Mannix from 1967 to 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 through 1973. He also 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, most notably the 1965 World War II black comedy Situation Hopeless... But Not Serious, in which he and Robert Redford played American soldiers taken prisoner by a German villager played by Alec Guinness.

Early years[edit | edit source]

Of Armenian descent, Connors was born Krekor Ohanian in Fresno, California in 1925. His father was Krekor Ohanian (1881–1944)[2] and his mother was Alice (1898–1978).[3] They married in 1920 and had three children, Dorthy M., Arpesri A. and Krekor.[4][5] At school, he often got into fights due to the discrimination faced against Armenians,[6] who were looked upon as outsiders. He stated this made his family more close.[7]

He was an avid basketball player in high school, who was nicknamed "Touch" by his teammates. During World War II, he served in the United States Army Air Forces.[6] After the war, he attended the University of California at Los Angeles on a basketball scholarship, where he briefly played under coach John Wooden. He was a member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity.[6] Director William A. Wellman got him into acting after noticing his expressive face while Connors was playing basketball. He appeared on the Los Angeles CBS station as Touch Connors in an episode of Jukebox Jury before the program went national via ABC in 1953. Connors is credited in his early films, such as Sudden Fear (1952), Island in the Sky (1953), Swamp Women (Swamp Diamonds), Five Guns West (1955), The Day the World Ended (1955), Shake, Rattle and Rock (1956), and Flesh and the Spur (1957) as "Touch Connors".

Connors recalled in an interview that he was renamed by Henry Willson, saying that "Ohanian" was too close to the actor George O'Hanlon and came up with "Touch Connors".[8]

Career[edit | edit source]

Connors with Gail Fisher in a publicity photo for Mannix, 1970

His film career started in the early 1950s. 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, still billed as Touch Connors, he played an Amalekite herder in Cecil B. DeMille's The Ten Commandments starring Charlton Heston.

He appeared in numerous television series, including the co-starring role in the 1955 episode "Tomas and the Widow" of the NBC Western 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.

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 also appeared in another NBC Western series, The Californians.

Connors with Genevieve Gilles in a publicity photo for Mannix, 1973

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.[9] About this time, he also appeared on an episode of NBC's Western series Cimarron City.[10]

Connors appeared in other syndicated series: The Silent Service, based on true stories of the submarine section of the United States Navy; Sheriff of Cochise, set in and about Bisbee, Arizona; 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.[11] Connors also co-starred (as the villain) in the classic 1956 Roger Corman sci-fi film, The Day The World Ended, and also co-starred in Roger Corman's Swamp Women that same year.

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". In 1965, he co-starred in one of Robert Redford's earliest film roles, a World War II black comedy, Situation Hopeless... But Not Serious alongside Sir Alec Guinness.

Connors with Eddie Egan in a publicity photo for Mannix, 1972

Connors later took the starring roles in Tightrope! (1959–1960), Mannix (1967–1975), and Today's F.B.I. (1981–1982). 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 after a lackluster first season in the ratings. This move enabled the show to become a long-running hit for the network. Connors was able to work with his boss on-screen during a cross-promotion episode of Ball's Here's Lucy series in 1971, showing his skill at comedy. 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.

Connors played Air Force Colonel Harrison "Hack" Peters in Herman Wouk's 1988 World War II-based miniseries War and Remembrance. Connors' final appearance was in a Two and a Half Men episode, where he played a love interest of Evelyn.

Personal life and death[edit | edit source]

Connors married Mary Lou Willey in 1949; together they had a son, Matthew Gunner Ohanian, and a daughter, Dana Lou Connors.

He is the cousin of French singer Charles Aznavour.[12]

Connors died in Tarzana, California, a week after being diagnosed with leukemia on January 26, 2017, at the age of 91.[5][13]

Awards and honors[edit | edit source]

In 1969, Connors won a for Best Actor - Television Series Drama for his role as Joe Mannix on Mannix.

Partial filmography[edit | edit source]

Film[edit | edit source]

Television[edit | edit source]

  • The Adventures of Jim Bowie, episode "Broomstick Wedding" (1956) – Rafe
  • The Untouchables, episode "The Eddie O'Hara Story"
  • "Gunsmoke", episode "The Mistake" (24 November 1956) - Bostick (as Touch Connors)
  • The Silent Service, episode "The Ordeal of the S-38" (1957) – Don Melhop
  • The Walter Winchell File "The Steep Hill" – Dave Hopper (1957)
  • Cheyenne (TV series), episode "Dead to Rights" (1958) – Roy Simmons (as Michael Connors)
  • Official Detective, episode "The Cover-Up" (1958) – Martin Whiting[14]
  • Tightrope! (1959–1960) – Undercover agent[15]
  • Perry Mason, Season 8, episode 7 "The Case of the Bullied Bowler" (1964) - Joe Kelly
  • Mannix (1967–1975) – Joe Mannix
  • The Death of Ocean View Park (1979) – Sam Jackson
  • Today's FBI (1981–1982) – Ben Slater
  • Public Enemy #2 (1993) – as himself
  • Hart to Hart Returns (1993) – Bill McDowell
  • Murder, She Wrote, episode "Flim Flam" (1995) – Boyce Brown
  • Diagnosis: Murder, episode "Hard Boiled Murder" (1997) – Joe Mannix
  • Walker, Texas Ranger, episode "Code of the West" (1998) – Judge Arthur McSpadden
  • Two and a Half Men, episode "Prostitutes and Gelato" (2007) – Hugo (final television appearance)

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "GOP Convention, Day 1, Session 2". aparchive.com. July 14, 1980. http://www.aparchive.com/metadata/GOP-CONVENTION-DAY-1-SESSION-2-REPUBLICAN-NATIONAL/633f675236d14b73927705e399e0a31f?query=CELEBRITY+NEWS&current=7&orderBy=Relevance&hits=26&referrer=search&search=%2Fsearch%3Fquery%3DCELEBRITY%2520NEWS%26allFilters%3DSINGERS%3AKeyword%2CWayne%2520Newton%3APeople&allFilters=SINGERS%3AKeyword%2CWayne+Newton%3APeople&productType=IncludedProducts&page=1&b=e0a31f. Retrieved January 27, 2017. 
  2. "Krekor Ohanian (1881 - 1945)". Find A Grave Memorial. https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=13034054. 
  3. "OHANIAN: MARY, EDWARD, MARIAM - California". Locate Ancestors. http://www.locateancestors.com/ohanian-california/. 
  4. "Alice Ohanian". U.S. Census Records. http://us-census.mooseroots.com/l/190347827/Alice-Ohanian. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 Grode, Eric (January 27, 2017). "Mike Connors, Glass-Jawed Star of 'Mannix,' Dies at 91". https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/27/arts/mike-connors-mannix-dies.html?_r=0. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 "Mike Connors". http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/person/38005%7C111373/Michael-Connors/. Retrieved 24 April 2011. 
  7. "Pop culture: 'Mannix' star Mike Connors (RIP) played ball at UCLA, golf at Southern Hills". Tulsa World. January 28, 2017. http://www.tulsaworld.com/blogs/scene/popculture/pop-culture-mannix-star-mike-connors-rip-played-ball-at/article_f46e72f7-0050-562a-b37f-128471fa16a0.html. Retrieved January 28, 2017. 
  8. Weaver, Tom (2003). "Mike Connors". Eye on Science Fiction: 20 Interviews with Classic SF and Horror Filmmakers. McFarland. p. 19. ISBN 978-0-7864-1657-8. https://books.google.com/books?id=jFkWaFYqzuQC&pg=PA16. 
  9. "The Dora Gray Story". http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0743099/. Retrieved 16 August 2012. 
  10. "Cimarron City". http://ctva.biz/US/Western/CimarronCity.htm. Retrieved 8 September 2012. 
  11. Terrace, Vincent (2013). Encyclopedia of Television Pilots, 1937–2012. McFarland. p. 105. ISBN 978-0-7864-7445-5. https://books.google.com/books?id=iHsjAwAAQBAJ&pg=PA105. 
  12. "Charles Aznavour - Biography". IMDb. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0002198/bio. 
  13. Saperstein, Pat (January 26, 2017). "Mike Connors, 'Mannix' Star, Dies at 91". ISSN 0042-2738. http://variety.com/2017/tv/news/mike-connors-dead-dies-joe-mannix-1201971140/. 
  14. "The Cover-Up". Classic TV Archives. http://ctva.biz/US/Crime/thecoverup. Retrieved October 21, 2016. 
  15. Brooks, Tim; Marsh, Earle F. (2009). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946–Present. Random House. p. 1394. ISBN 978-0-307-48320-1. https://books.google.com/books?id=w8KztFy6QYwC&pg=PA1394. 

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