Death, obviously knows no change in calendars…
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.
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.
Those familiar with this blog know I loves me character actors and film noir. I’m certain this evolved from my Dad’s love of film and character actors.
Humphrey Bogart is one of my favorites, but there are so many others.
Robert Mitchum is the king.
Of course, he had an ‘interesting’ private life. One of the early Hollywood types busted for marijuana use, he served a week in the county jail, then more time in a prison farm. (from Wikipedia)
On September 1, 1948, after a string of successful films for RKO, Mitchum and actress Lila Leeds were arrested for possession of marijuana. The arrest was the result of a sting operation designed to capture other Hollywood partiers, as well, but Mitchum and Leeds did not receive the tipoff. After serving a week at the county jail, (he described the experience to a reporter as being “like Palm Springs, but without the riff-raff”) Mitchum spent 43 days (February 16 to March 30) at a Castaic, California, prison farm, with Life photographers right there taking photos of him mopping up in his prison uniform. The arrest became the inspiration for the exploitation film She Shoulda Said No! (1949), which starred Leeds. The conviction was later overturned by the Los Angeles court and district attorney’s office on January 31, 1951, with the following statement, after it was exposed as a setup:
“ After an exhaustive investigation of the evidence and testimony presented at the trial, the court orders that the verdict of guilty be set aside and that a plea of not guilty be entered and that the information or complaint be dismissed.
He did appear to be an early version of the stereotypical beatnik, but, considering his career, certainly not with an aversion to work(!) Robert Mitchum was an American actor who was in over 110 films and TV series over the course of his career. (Wikipedia)
He was married to his wife Dorothy for 57 years! He reportedly proposed by saying to her, “Stick with me Baby, and you’ll be farting through silk!”
Regular readers know I love movies and TV. What you may not know is, I rarely go ‘out’ to the movies.
Part of the reason is the technological shift in how we can view movies. I get them directly on my satellite dish, or through services like NETFLIX™. I even own a ‘few’ on DVD! (I know – OLD technology!) 😛
There are more than enough from which to choose.
And there’s this (from FB, in part – not me!):
Went to the H****** Metrocenter 12 …at the 01:30pm “Jupiter Ascending”…Me and 2 others of my party had to walk out!!!
Some trashy family with 3-4 kids sat right next to us and talked and talked ..and talked…and also they let their kid run up and down in front of us!
Then to top if off….the father had the nerve to pick up one of our parties drinks and hand it to his kid to drink out of ….then said sorry and handed it back “AFTER” his kid (& himself took turns slurping it down!).
I had to had have a friend get a manager…2 (Two) times….then finally got our money back and walked out!!
BAD!!!! I wont be back to the H****** Metrocenter 12…sad missed a film that I had been wanting to see for weeks!
Metrocenter used to be a family-friendly huge, upscale mall, wherein many weekends were spent window and actual shopping. With my then wife and young daughter. Now, with most of the brick-and-mortar department stores closed, it’s become a hang out for misguided yutes.
I remember even in pre-VHS days, attending a different theater and encountering rude people. As the film began, three yutes (misguided teens) began talking loudly to each other and the screen. Against my better judgment, I approached them and strongly suggested I paid good money to hear the movie, and not to hear them sh*** and j***. (Using a 40’s vernacular with which I’m certain they lacked familiarity).
They quieted down, and I spent most of the movie checking my six for some variety of retaliation. Thankfully, none came.
While I sometimes miss the big screens and speakers (remember CINERAMA™ and Dolby™?), it is nice knowing I can pause the film for bathroom and/or beverage, and even watch in my skivvies.
I think I was first employed as a private security guard in 1972. Last, in 1987. For about six different companies over the years. Interspersed with being a process server, private investigator, security consultant and numerous other jobs.
Consequently, sometimes my memories conjoin, and sometimes fade. Sometimes, they make me cry (like restricting access to the urgent care facility to allow access for a seriously ill cancer patient – because the cancer made them stink!), and other times they make me chuckle.
Why haven’t I posted about this funny ever before? I’d forgotten about it. A recent course of Nyquil™ helped me to remember! 😛
I was a graveyard shift guard for an urgent care facility three days. And substitute guard supervisor for two. Often filling in for sick, ill, and lazy guards. And those who just decided to quit at the last minute.
(If I couldn’t bribe someone else to fill in…)
One of the offices for the urgent care was adjacent to a popular stage theater/movie house. And sometimes, the audience parking would bleed over into our lot. Our job, as security, was to make certain they simply didn’t restrict patient parking.
Usually no issue or biggie.
But this was Phoenix’s Sombrero Playhouse! Where much of central Phoenix ‘old’ money would go to watch plays, and sometimes first-run films. Then they’d go up 7th Avenue to The Islands for a nice dinner out.
Generally nice, older folks who didn’t want to be annoyed. And had money to enforce that.
And, I was a conservative, somewhat sheltered young lad. Just trying to do my job.
As a last minute aside, I was told there was a new movie at the Sombrero. And some of the patrons ‘dressed in costume and makeup’ to see the film. I was not to express alarm at their ‘getup’.
I’d not heard of the film. It was THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW!
So, a guy pulls in and asks me if it’s okay to park in the clinic lot. I apologize and say no. The first of many times that evening to people who looked (somewhat) like this:
I didn’t express alarm, but did have to stifle laughter!
And my boundaries were again widened. Not because I wanted them to be, necessarily.
And Rocky Horror became an underground hit. And took over ‘Midnight Movies’ at my nearby theater, The Valley Art. The used to run indy films, then it became nothing but Rocky Horror every Friday and Saturday midnight!
Times were a changin’…
What have we learned from the events of this week?
We cannot control others. (as if we didn’t already know this!)
Politicians are maddening.
The World is crazy.
People pass away when they do. Something else over which we’ve no control.
Carrie Fisher. Many of us feel sad because we liked her irreverent spirit, and The Star Wars character. She was way too young.
And, of course, death reminds us of our own mortality.
Debbie Reynolds. Debbie is of course, more of my parent’s generation. But I grew up on many of her movies, and have an special fondness for Singin’ In The Rain. The dancing. The music. The comedy.
And the fact it came out the year I was born.
Debbie’s demise was no surprise to me. Nature says parents should not outlive their children. Except sometimes they do.
Both my (ex)wife and I did. Stating this is unpleasant is the understatement of a lifetime.
I understand how Debbie’s age and grief could precipitate strokes. And I felt for her. And mourn her passing.
We’re it not for blood pressure medication, I would be in stroke territory myself. And for a few years after the accident, I thought it a distinct possibility. And maybe hoped it would happen.
We’re on the cusp of another New Year. Hopefully, better than the last. You know what I’m going to say:
HOLD THOSE CLOSE WHOM YOU CARE ABOUT, AND TELL THEM YOU LOVE THEM – ESPECIALLY YOUR KIDS!
YOU NEVER KNOW…
No, not THOSE 300 (the Spartans – “Molon Labe”, etc.)
Those of you who have read this blog for more than a week (poor bast***s) know me well enough to know I was raised on TV and movies. I’m still hooked, and love nothing more than wasting my time in front of the idiot box selecting from either live television or the DVR.
Besides, I cannot afford to do much else.
And television has evolved from my childhood in the 50’s (3, 4 or 5 channels, shutting down at night with The National Anthem, followed by a ‘test pattern’ – youngsters, ask anyone born before 1960!) to a multitude of cable and satellite networks broadcasting 24/7, numbering in the hundreds, visible on flat digital TVs, tablets, PCs and even smartphones. From pretty much anywhere in the ‘civilized’ world!
Of course, much of it is crap! 😛
Didn’t Steve Martin say, “147 channels and nothing’s on.” ?
Of course, I can watch Underwater Argentinian Curling at 0300, if I choose! (just kidding, but not by much.)
I didn’t pay much attention to the actors of my youth (except the character actors – love them!), specifically, the number.
The few shows from Hollywood, those from NYC, how many actors were in that pool in say, 1956?
Fast-forward to 2016, with all this technology, with all these networks and shows, all these choices…
How many actors in this pool?
I contend it’s roughly 300. Because of my largely unscientific but copious viewing habits, I’ve noticed actor A on that series (lead) when that series gets cancelled, shows up on a new series (as a second lead) almost immediately!
And if THAT series gets cancelled, they magically appear in a third, almost immediately. As a special guest. One week, the guy’s a federal special agent, the next he’s a city cop. And in 13 weeks (or less) he appears as a metrosexual TV reporter.
Of course, most of these folks are extremely ‘talented’, (or at least pretty people!)
Look at Ted Danson. He began as a murdered cop in ‘The Onion Field’, Went to ‘Cheers’, then ‘CSI’, then ‘CSI Cyber’ and now ‘The Good Place’. With lots more in between.
It just seems I keep seeing the same actors in different roles on different shows in different seasons. Sometimes, it’s the only way I find out the previous show was cancelled!
And watching reruns makes it even more confusing. I just watched an episode of Law & Order Criminal Intent (2001-2011), with Michael Emerson (as the main bad guy). He has an ‘affair’ with Cara Buono, whom he ends up murdering. (Victim #3).
Move to Person of Interest (2010-2015). Michael Emerson is now Mr. Finch, the creator of ‘the machine’ who spies on everyone, and Cara Buono guest stars as Martine, whose job it is to assassinate Finch and his agents. While I’m certain Mr. Emerson put in a good word with the casting folks, it further acknowledges the almost incestuous nature of the 300.
And why there are only 300.
Well, back to the idiot box…
This makes two times!
Bill Maher said Donald Trump is right that the U.S. should have a profiling service that uses techniques employed by security guards in Israeli airports. The HBO host also said people already profile and that “all police work is profiling,” we just do it “stupidly.
BILL MAHER: He is for profiling, that’s what he said. But he said we should do it the way Israel does. And, like, every once in while Donald Trump says something right. Because we profile already, we just do it stupidly. All police work is profiling. Discrimination does not mean prejudice; discrimination means telling un-like things apart…
More with video @ Real Clear Politics
(from Free North Carolina)
Yep, yet another TV show to which I am addicted.
A transplanted Southie Irish guy (played by Liev Schrieber), transplanted to L.A., makes his living by being a ‘fixer’ for rich Hollywood (and other) types.
Sometimes the fix is a simple contract negotiation. Sometimes it’s more complicated – like involving blackmail, kidnapping and murder. Or covering up his client’s crimes. Like murder, robbery and prostitution.
He does very well with it, too. Mercedes CLS 550. Nice house. Kids in private schools.
Of course, it’s never as easy at all that. A history of killing the priest who molested he and his brother. A wife with breast cancer. Teen kids acting out. Currently, he’s pissed off the Russian mob. And he has an ex-con father (Jon Voight) who has his own criminal agenda and cannot seem to stay out of jail.
And the FBI is on his ass!
So, many times, HE becomes his own client!
It’s on Showtime, and next week is it’s 4th Season finale. (It’s also available on You Tube and other venues).
Okay, 2016, enough already!
Another one of my childhood icons, Hugh O’Brian, passed yesterday…
He was 91.
For those too young to be baby-boomers, he was Wyatt Earp in the TV series The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp 1955-1961.
When the Western was King.
(Yeah, he didn’t sport a mustache, and didn’t truck with hookers on the show, I know!)
O’Brian first attended school at New Trier High School in Winnetka, Illinois, then the (now defunct) Kemper Military School in Booneville, Missouri. He lettered in football, basketball, wrestling, and track. O’Brian dropped out of the University of Cincinnati after one semester to enlist in the United States Marine Corps during World War II. At seventeen, he became the youngest Marine drill instructor.
Hugh O’Brian dedicated much of his life to the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership (HOBY), a non-profit youth leadership development program for high school scholars. HOBY sponsors 10,000 high school sophomores annually through its over 70 leadership programs in all 50 states and 20 countries. Since its inception in 1958, over 435,000 young people have participated in HOBY-related programs.
One high school sophomore from every high school in the United States, referred to as an “ambassador,” is welcome to attend a state or regional HOBY seminar. From each of those seminars, students (number based on population) are offered the opportunity to attend the World Leadership Congress (WLC). In 2008, over 500 ambassadors attended from all 50 states and 20 countries. The concept for HOBY was inspired in 1958 by a nine-day visit O’Brian had with famed humanitarian Dr. Albert Schweitzer in Africa. Dr. Schweitzer believed “the most important thing in education is to teach young people to think for themselves.”
O’Brian’s message to young people is “Freedom to Choose” as explained in an essay on the topic:
I do NOT believe we are all born equal. Created equal in the eyes of God, yes, but physical and emotional differences, parental guidelines, varying environments, being in the right place at the right time, all play a role in enhancing or limiting an individual’s development. But I DO believe every man and woman, if given the opportunity and encouragement to recognize their potential, regardless of background, has the freedom to choose in our world. Will an individual be a taker or a giver in life? Will that person be satisfied merely to exist or seek a meaningful purpose? Will he or she dare to dream the impossible dream? I believe every person is created as the steward of his or her own destiny with great power for a specific purpose, to share with others, through service, a reverence for life in a spirit of love.— Hugh O’Brian, The Freedom to Choose
(It’s said it comes in threes. Guess it all depends on when one begins counting, and what the criterion are…)
You all know me and my love of character actors. Mr. Polito first appeared on my radar in the wonderful 80’s TV show Crime Story, as a third lead mobster versus Dennis Farina and his major crimes crew. (Any resemblance of the show’s character to Sam Giancana was purely coincidental, I’m sure…)
Later, it was Miller’s Crossing, Homicide: Life On The Street, Barton Fink, The X Files and many other shows and films.
Almost always playing some flavor of wiseguy. Oh, he played in THAT, too! He played cops, too (as mob-cast guys often do!)
Turned out he was distantly related to a friend of mine here locally with the same last name! I’m sorry for your loss.
Your gruff voice and persona will certainly be missed!