Connors as Joe Mannix, 1968
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 Emmynominations 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.
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.
At school, he often got into fights due to the discrimination faced against Armenians, who were looked upon as outsiders. He stated this made his family more close.
He was an avid basketball player in high school, who was nicknamed “Touch” by his teammates. During World War II, he served in the United States Army Air Forces. 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.
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 Jurybefore 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.”
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.
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 syndicatedcrime 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 opposite James Garner in 1957.
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.
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. About this time, he also appeared on an episode of NBC’s Western series Cimarron City.
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. 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. To read more about Mike Connors go to the link below: