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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 1967–75, 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 1970-73. He starred in the short-lived series Tightrope! (1959–60) and Today's FBI (1981-82). 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.

Mike Connors
Mike Connors Mannix 1968.JPG
Connors as Joe Mannix, 1968
BornKrekor Ohanian
(1925-08-15)August 15, 1925
Fresno, California, U.S.
DiedJanuary 26, 2017(2017-01-26) (aged 91)
Tarzana, California, U.S.
Other namesTouch Connors
Alma materUniversity of California, Los Angeles
OccupationActor
Years active1952–2007
Political partyRepublican[1]
Spouse(s)
Mary Lou Willey
(m. 1949; his death 2017)
Children2

Contents

Early yearsEdit

Of Armenian descent, Connors was born Krekor Ohanian in Fresno, California in 1925. His father was also named Krekor Ohanian (1881–1944) and his mother was Alice (1898–1978). They married in 1920 and had three children, Dorthy M., Arpesri A. and Krekor.[2]

At school, he often got into fights due to the discrimination then faced by Armenians, who were looked upon as outsiders. He recalled that this made his family more tight-knit.[3]

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.[4] 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.[citation needed]

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".[citation needed]

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".[5]

CareerEdit

 
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.[citation needed]

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, credited as “Michael Conners”, opposite James Garner in 1957.[citation needed] Also in 1957, he appeared in one episode of the series The Silent Service (S01 E15 "The Ordeal of S-38"), in the credits for which he was billed as "Touch Conners."

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.

 
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.[6] About this time, he also appeared on an episode of NBC's Western series Cimarron City.[7]

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.[8] 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.

 
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, as a love interest of Evelyn Harper (Holland Taylor).

Personal life and deathEdit

Connors married Mary Lou Willey in 1949; together they had a son, Matthew Gunner Ohanian, and a daughter, Dana Lou Connors. He is also a cousin of French singer Charles Aznavour.[9]

Connors died in Tarzana, California, a week after being diagnosed with leukemia on January 26, 2017, at the age of 91.[2][10]

FilmographyEdit

FilmEdit

Year Title Role Notes
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 Jaguar Marty Lang
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 Harlow Jack Harrison
1965 Situation Hopeless... But Not Serious Sgt. Lucky Finder
1966 Stagecoach Hatfield
1966 Kiss the Girls and Make Them Die Kelly
1979 Avalanche Express Haller
1980 Nightkill Wendell Atwell
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
1994 Downtown Heat Steve
1997 James Dean: Race with Destiny Jack Warner
1998 Gideon Harland Greer
2000 The Extreme Adventures of Super Dave Grandpa Osborne Uncredited
2003 Nobody Knows Anything! Joe Mannix

TelevisionEdit

Year Title Role Notes
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"
1957–1959 Whirlybirds Tom Grimaldi / Wally Otis 2 episodes
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"
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[11] 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)[12] 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
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
1976 The Killer Who Wouldn't Die Karl Ohanian 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
1980 Casino Nick 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 Glitter Episode: "Pilot"
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"
1998–1999 Hercules Chipacles 10 episodes
1998 Walker, Texas Ranger Judge Arthur McSpadden Episode: "Code of the West"
2007 Two and a Half Men Hugo Episode: "Prostitutes and Gelato"

Awards and nominationsEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "GOP Convention, Day 1, Session 2". aparchive.com. July 14, 1980. Retrieved January 27, 2017.
  2. ^ a b Grode, Eric (January 27, 2017). "Mike Connors, Glass-Jawed Star of 'Mannix', Dies at 91". The New York Times.
  3. ^ "Pop culture: 'Mannix' star Mike Connors (RIP) played ball at UCLA, golf at Southern Hills". Tulsa World. January 28, 2017. Retrieved February 12, 2018.
  4. ^ http://www.airforcemag.com/MagazineArchive/Magazine%20Documents/1999/April%201999/0499famous.pdf
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ "The Dora Gray Story". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved August 16, 2012.
  7. ^ "Cimarron City". ctva.biz. Retrieved September 8, 2012.
  8. ^ Terrace, Vincent (2013). Encyclopedia of Television Pilots, 1937–2012. McFarland. p. 105. ISBN 978-0-7864-7445-5.
  9. ^ "Charles Aznavour biography". IMDb. Retrieved April 7, 2017.
  10. ^ Saperstein, Pat (January 26, 2017). "Mike Connors, 'Mannix' Star, Dies at 91". Variety. ISSN 0042-2738.
  11. ^ "The Cover-Up". Classic TV Archives. Retrieved October 21, 2016.
  12. ^ 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.

External linksEdit