LOS ANGELES – Mike Connors, who starred as a hard-hitting private eye on the long-running television series “Mannix,” has died. He was 91.
Connors 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.
One of the highest-paid actors on American television at the time, Connors starred on “Mannix” for all eight seasons of its run on the CBS network, from 1967 to 1975.
The square-jawed actor played tough-as-nails private detective Joe Mannix and actress Gail Fisher co-starred as an independent investigator and his loyal secretary, Peggy, in a series that attracted a strong following.
The show was heavy on car chases, fistfights and bullets – and light on nuance – as Connors pursued the bad guys, although he later professed to a determination to plumb the emotional depths of his TV alter ego.
“I know that I kept saying I want this character to be as real as possible, to feel the emotions, the ups and the downs, to shed a tear, whatever it took that happens to the average human being,” Connors told Fox News Channel in a 2000 interview.
“One of the reasons the show was very popular is because we tried to stay as close to reality as possible.”
Connors was nominated for an Emmy four times for his work on “Mannix” and won a Golden Globe award in 1970 as best actor in a dramatic series. “Mannix” was twice nominated for an Emmy as best dramatic series.
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, who was of Armenian descent, was born as Krekor Ohanian on Aug. 15, 1925, in Fresno, California. Tall and athletic, he attended UCLA on a basketball scholarship and was noticed by veteran Hollywood director William Wellman, who steered him into acting.
Connors married his wife, Mary Lou, in 1949. They had two children.