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Mike Connors R.I.P.

 Death, obviously knows no change in calendars…
mike-connors

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Mike Connors, who starred as a hard-hitting private eye on the long-running television series “Mannix,” has died. He was 91.

The actor died surrounded by family Thursday afternoon at a Los Angeles hospital from complications of leukemia that had been diagnosed a week earlier, said his son-in-law, Mike Condon.

“Mannix” ran for eight years on CBS beginning in 1967. Viewers were intrigued by the tall, smartly dressed, well-spoken detective who could mix it up with the burliest of thugs and leap on the hood of a racing car to prevent an escape. Episodes normally climaxed with a brawl that left the culprits bruised and beaten.

“Up until Mannix, most private investigators were hard-nosed, cynical guys who lived in a seedy area and had no emotions,” Connors theorized in 1997. “Mannix got emotionally involved. He was not above being taken advantage of.”

In the first season, Joe Mannix was a self-employed Los Angeles private investigator hired by a firm that used computers and high-tech equipment to uncover crime. The ratings were lukewarm. Connors feared the series would be canceled but it was produced by Lucille Ball’s Desilu studio, and CBS was reluctant to antagonize its biggest star.

In the second season, Mannix opened his own office and combatted low-lifes by himself. The ratings zoomed.

When “Mannix” was revised the office acquired a secretary, played by African-American actress Gail Fisher.

The network was concerned that affiliates in the South might object to her character but “there wasn’t any kind of backlash,” Connors recalled.

Another highlight was the theme music by legendary screen composer Lalo Schifrin.

Connors also starred in the TV series “Tightrope!” and “Today’s FBI.” Each lasted one season.

His movie and TV career stretched from the 1950s to 2007, when he had a guest role on “Two and a Half Men.”

Connors made his film debut in 1952’s “Sudden Fear,” which starred Joan Crawford. Other films included “Island in the Sky,” ”The Ten Commandments,” and a remake of “Stagecoach.”

Connors, born Krekor Ohanian in 1925, was from an Armenian community in Fresno. He served in the Air Force during World War II and played basketball at the University of California, Los Angeles.

After graduation he studied law for two years but his good looks and imposing presence attracted him to acting. In an era when film actors were given names like Tab and Rock, he appeared as Touch Connors — “Touch” being his basketball nickname. He later changed it to Michael and finally, Mike.

Connors and his wife, Mary Lou, were married in 1949 and had two children: a son, Matthew, and a daughter, Dana. Their son, beset by hallucinations starting in his teens, was diagnosed with schizophrenia and before his death lived in a small residential care facility. Connors and his wife championed efforts to erase the stigma of mental illness.

In addition to his wife, daughter and son-in-law, Connors is survived by a granddaughter, Cooper Wills.

___

The late Associated Press writer Bob Thomas contributed biographical material to this report.

We humans always seem to make the passing of time with a New Year, with the hope that Death will do the same.

But, he never stops.

There have been others, Mary Tyler Moore being the most notable.

But my high school TV years were filled with shows like Mission Impossible.

And Mannix.

For me, Mannix filled the generational gap between 77 Sunset Strip and Magnum.

This was Mike Connors image, even though he did other things.

He even did a show where he was named Ohanian – his real Armenian name – but it didn’t take.

He once quipped as Mannix he was hit on the head something like 57 times, but always came back.  Maybe PIs should be issued safety helmets?

Godspeed, Mike.  R.I.P.

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About guffaw1952

I'm a child of the 50's. libertarian, now medically-retired. I've been a certified firearms trainer, a private investigator, and worked for a major credit card company for almost 22 years. I am a proud NRA Life Member. I am a limited-government, free-market capitalist, who believes in the U.S. Constitution and the Rule of Law.

Discussion

6 thoughts on “Mike Connors R.I.P.

  1. I remember MAD Magazine doing one of its spoofs about Mannix, and the payoff at the end was the reason why he never showed injuries from the many fistfights: a rubber face mask of himself.

    But it was a good show, and we always watched. Besides, Gail Fisher was cute!

    Posted by Rev. Paul | January 27, 2017, 9:39 am
  2. Ah, Mannix. That was the show I watched when, as a middle-schooler, I was first allowed to stay up as late as I wanted. I loved that show.

    Posted by chipmunk | January 27, 2017, 9:45 am
  3. Good show, and fond memories… May he rest in peace!

    Posted by Old NFO | January 27, 2017, 10:23 am

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