Mike Connors, ‘Mannix’ Star, Dies at 91

Mike Connors Dead
Desilu/Norway/Paramount TV/REX/Shutterstock

Mike Connors, best known for playing detective Joe Mannix on 1960s and ’70s show “Mannix,” died Thursday in Tarzana, Calif. He was 91.

He had been diagnosed a week ago with leukemia, according to his son-in-law Mike Condon.

“Mannix” ran for eight seasons from 1968 to 1975 and was the last series from Desilu Productions. Connors won a Golden Globe for his performance as a tough, athletic investigator, who in quintessential detective show style, insisted on doing things his own way and often got beat up in the process. He drove an impressive series of muscle cars including a Dodge Dart and Chevrolet Camaro.

Desilu president Lucille Ball convinced CBS not to cancel the show despite initial poor ratings, and it caught on after being retooled into a somewhat more conventional detective series. Mannix’s secretary, played by Gail Fisher, was one of few African-American actresses on TV at the time. “Here’s Lucy” produced a crossover episode in 1971 with Connors and Ball, called “Lucy and Mannix Are Held Hostage.”

As recently as 2007, he made a guest appearance on “Two and a Half Men.” His other TV appearances included “Murder, She Wrote,” “Love Boat,” and “Walker, Texas Ranger.”

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The handsome square-jawed actor also appeared in early ’60s TV series “Tightrope!” and “Today’s F.B.I.” in the early ’80s. He later played Colonel Hack Peters in Herman Wouk miniseries “War and Remembrance.”

Born Kreker J. Ohanian in Fresno, Calif., Connors was of Armenian descent. He played basketball at UCLA where he was nicknamed “Touch,” and was credited in his first few films as Touch Connors. In the 1950s, Connors appeared in the John Wayne film “Island in the Sky” and in Cecil B. DeMille’s “The Ten Commandments.”

Connors is survived by his wife Mary Lou, daughter Dana, and granddaughter Cooper.

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  1. Bernard Reilly says:

    As a young, White man growing up in the 70’s I was surprised to see Gail Fisher at Mannix’s secretary. Then, as the series went on, I wondered why I was surprised. I went to Catholic School with Mexican, Black and Indian children. But, it took Mannix to put Black in positions of responsibility. Also, Mannix and Peggy clearly liked each other. Well done “Mannix” my first television hero!!

  2. spocksgirl says:

    Groundbreaking series though not celebrated as one. Not only did he have a black co-star (Mr. Connors lobbied for Ms. Fisher to be on the series), but they portrayed black people in various ways…doctors, laborers, Hollywood executives, lawyer, cops, singers and just plain folks. Without making a big deal of it. Racial issues were also explored. For a young black woman growing up in the 1950s to see that kind of interaction on TV was amazing. I have the entire Mannix series on dvd…money well spent. RIP Mr. Connors…a class act.

  3. Joe Lovestick says:

    He was great actor he was good friend like Dick Van Dyke who he reprise role as Mannix in Diagnosis murder. He was in Chuck Norris Walker Texas Ranger & his short live TV series Today FBI. His Mannix was sort of White John Shaft private Detective. Only if Richard Roundtree did a guest part in that TV series as different role as a RIP Mike Conner.

  4. Mark says:

    God Bless you, Mike Connors; as a child of the ’60s / ’70s I was drawn to the super cool Chrysler Corporation sponsored Convertibles Private Eye Joe Mannix ripped around LA / Malibu in. I own two similar Plymouth Barracuda models Joe Mannix co-starred with: 1970/71. When the DVDs finally came out for the entire series, I was hooked all over again. MANNIX coolest Title Sequence Theme Ever!

  5. Ted says:

    One of my favorite shows growing up. Married for 67 years?!! That says a lot about his character. Class act. RIP

  6. Sir Johnny Buttcracke III Esq. says:

    Mannix always had the coolest cars and his secretary was hot. RIP Mr.Connors

  7. So sad to lose another icon, and hope he was able to resolve the dispute he had with CBS. Mike was one of the true good guys, and I miss those days of endless Backgammon on set with him. He was a friend to everyone, and will be greatly missed. I’ll have to get out my copy of The Ten Commandments now, and look for him. Ha!

  8. Lee Ellen Graf says:

    I watched Mr Connors probably in every show he played in growing up.I always enjoyed the many haracters he played. My prayers for the family he will be missed and will forever be ranked with the best

    • Mark T. Ford says:

      I watched my TV icon ever since it started and could duplicate his shoulder rolls and stunts somewhat with a close friend. I’ll miss seeing those great Joe Mannix fights and car chase. Rest in Peace Mike a.k.a…… Joe Mannix !!! Thanks for the autograph you got to mail to me from your home!!

  9. Mary Bakerr says:

    He will be sadly missed. I always watch him on Me-TV in fact that’s how I just saw a notice that he had passed. He was one of those good clean sexy actors. Like I said he will be surely missed

  10. stan says:

    Mick Connors was a wonderful man and actor. Remember they brought back Mannix in a 1997 Diagnosis Murder episode to solve a crime from a 1973 Mannix episode. Mike was one those guys that everyone seemed to like and enjoy. RIP.

  11. Rick Hill says:

    As a tribute to Mike Connors, I am reminded of the time we spent together in the 1980’s. After filming episodes of our TV Series, “Today’s FBI,” on location in New York, Philadelphia and Washington DC, Mike and I, along with Harold Sylvester, would often meet in the hotel lounge to unwind at the end of the day. At the urging of local patrons, Mike would often grab the mic and regale the folks with his “Stand-Up” routine—even sing a ditty or two reminiscent of “Dean Martin,” much to the delight of the audience, who were usually unaware of Mike’s keen sense of humor and singing talent. Had it not been for the success from his TV role as “Mannix,” and the associated type-casting, Mike might have had a second career in Sit-Coms. Never heard him curse or utter a bad word about anyone. A Class-Act—one of Hollywood’s finest gentlemen. RIP, my friend.

  12. Kevin says:

    Rip mike really enjoyed mannix

    • Sam America says:

      As a kid growing up Mannix was one of my favorite cops shows. He was so cool with
      those cool cars! I didn’t get to see many reruns so when the dvd’s released I got season
      1 and planning to get them all. They don’t make shows like that anymore! Mike Connors
      was also one of my favorite actors I have many great movies he made and my favorite
      is a odd 80’s cop thriller called Too Scared to Scream with a young Anne Archer and
      also has Ian McShane another one of my favorites. It’s a good cop thriller with twist.
      RIP Mannix! one of the coolest tough guys on TV! it’s time for an episode of Mannix!

  13. Cecilia Gilmore says:

    Question – Was Mannix the first TV detective to wear his gun in the small of the back? I think he was!

  14. Thanks for the memories! R.I.P.!

  15. wishinwell says:

    Sad to hear, another one from TV’s oldies but goodies show leaves us-Mike Connors- remember Mannix- popular show- was a pre-teen @ the time. Condolences to his family.

  16. Mary says:

    So what kind of cocktail did the doctors give him that killed him right away?

    Sure, I remember Mannix!~

  17. John coburn says:

    My twin brother James and my mother sue and father don and brother andy always watched Mannix IT’s a show that inspired me to be an actor as did the man from Uncle ! These classic detective shows have changed so dramatically and they are missed . Thank you for all your great work !

  18. Todd Schuster says:

    Another class act we lost. 91 years old, quite a life. Not only that, he had a long Hollywood marriage which is extremely rare, 67 years to Marylou. Mannix was the bomb during its time, 8 seasons. Loved watching Joe Mannix using his fists to beat up the thugs. Great show, great theme. Rest in peace Mike Connors aka Kreker Ohanian.

  19. Bill Moukad says:

    Me and my father would watch this together every week, loved Mannix!!

  20. Jan-Willem van der Zwet says:

    Mike was my biggest heroe when I was growing up in the Netherlands!

    R.I.P

  21. Gerald Teskey says:

    R I P. Mannix

  22. The Touch nickname actually goes back to high school. Maybe before.

  23. Jeff King says:

    One of my favorite shows as a boy. I wish I’d seen him on the screen far more in his later years. Rest in peace, Mike Connors.

  24. I use to watch his show. 91 huh? Good for you!

  25. Phillip Ayling says:

    He was a TV star. RIP

  26. John says:

    The Dodge Dart was NOT a “muscle car”.

  27. anthony wayne says:

    Just spoke to him recently at Gelson’s Encino … he was gracious and welcoming.
    Such a presence around the San Fernando Valley over the past years —- Hy’s Lighting, Costco … Mike (Touch) Connors was everywhere.

    He was driving a mini-van … God bless him.

    A normal star. How unique.

    “To Life!” Mike Connors.

  28. Requiescat in pace, my friend.

  29. Michael F. Blake says:

    One of the nicest guys to work with. Godspeed.

  30. I remember him as Nick Stone in a late ’50s detective series called “Tightrope”….with his pistol in a holster on the back of his belt….

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