Mike Connors passed away on Thursday, at the age of 91. Connors received four Emmy nominations from 1970-73 and six Golden Globe nominations from 1970-75 but won just once, picking up a trophy from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association in 1970. The only Emmy the show ever received was given that year to Gail Fisher, who played Peggy Fair, Mannix’s prim and steady secretary. Fisher was one of the first African-American actresses to have a regular series role on TV.
Two other producers on the show, Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts, were veteran movie screenwriters whose work included White Heat (1949), starring James Cagney. The Armenian-American actor also was recognizable for three other series: Tightrope (1959-60), in which he starred as an undercover agent infiltrating organized crime; Today’s FBI (1981-82), in which he played an FBI supervisor; and the syndicated series Crimes of the Century (1989), which he hosted. He played Robert Mitchum’s wartime comrade in the 1988-89 miniseries War and Remembrance.
Born Krekor Ohanian in Fresno, Calif., on Aug. 15, 1925, Connors served in the Army Air Force during World War II, then came to Westwood on a basketball scholarship. While aiming for law school, he developed a passion for acting and appeared in several plays. He was encouraged by Oscar-winning writer-director William Wellman (A Star Is Born), who spotted him while he played for the Bruins.
He made his TV debut in 1954 with a role on Ford Theatre and continued with numerous small roles while gaining recognition as a heavy in such Westerns as Gunsmoke, Maverick, Wagon Train and Cimarron City. He changed his name to Mike Connors in 1958 and appeared in such movies as Live Fast, Die Young (1958) and Situation Hopeless … But Not Serious (1965), which starred Alec Guinness. He landed one of his best early movie roles in the 1966 remake of Stagecoach, playing the cardsharp.
Throughout his career, which spanned nearly 50 years, Connors made numerous guest-star appearances on such shows as The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, The Millionaire, The Untouchables, The Fall Guy, The Love Boat, Walker, Texas Ranger, Murder, She Wrote, Burke’s Law, The Commish, Diagnosis Murder (where he returned as Joe Mannix) and, in 2007, Two and a Half Men.