As our complicated entry into 2017 starts to wind down, the entertainment world has been hit with the death of another icon. Actor Mike Connors, best known as the titular detective on the long-running hit drama Mannix, has passed away on Thursday, January 26. He was 91 years old.
Mike Connors died as a result of leukemia, and it was only a short week ago that he was given that initial diagnosis. According to Deadline, Connors’ son-in-law Mike Condon reports that the actor reportedly passed while at a hospital in Tarzana, California, and he was surrounded by his family and other loved ones. That includes Mary Lou, who was married to Connors for 62 years.
Born on August 15, 1925, in Fresno, California, Mike Connors actually started life with the name Kreker J. Ohanian. His pre-acting years were highlighted by a military tour in World War II and his skills on the basketball court, which landed him at UCLA. It was in the 1950s that Connors first got his taste of the acting bug, and his first appearances in films like Sky Commando and TV shows like Mr. & Mrs. North were under the name Touch Connors. He appeared in a couple dozen series and movies before hitting his first big TV break as an undercover agent in 1959’s Tightrope, which ended much too soon.
Eight years later, Mike Connors made his big debut as CBS’ Joe Mannix, a bit of an everyman who was toughened up by his past as a prisoner of war in Korea, and the show was memorable for putting Mannix through some hellish physical altercations. The series started off with a before-its-time focus on bringing computers into the police force, which didn’t help to win over audiences, and the show was almost canned that early in its run. Thankfully, the show was produced by Desilu Productions – the last series to hold that distinction – and Lucille Ball herself made a personal plea for the drama to stay on the air. And so it did, after a bit of reworking, and it remained there for seven more seasons.
Mike Connors remained a familiar face on TV after Mannix ended, as well, showing up on The Love Boat, Hollywood Squares, and Murder, She Wrote, to name a few. Sadly, he basically retired from acting from 2000 onward, strangely reprising his Joe Mannix role for the 2003 comedy Nobody Knows Anything! His final TV appearance was for the Season 4 finale of Two and a Half Men, as seen below.
We at CinemaBlend send our thoughts and condolences to the family and friends of Mike Connors during their time of mourning.