Celebrating Seniors – Mike Connors Turns 90

January 2017 Update: Mike Connors has died on January 26, 2017 at the age of 91. Cause of death was leukemia. 

mike connors, american actor, tv series, joe mannix, 1968 Mike Connors as Joe Mannix. (Photo: YouTube | Mannix 1968)

American actor and now nonagenarian senior citizen Mike Connors was born August 15, 1925 in Fresno, California. His nickname of “Touch” began in high school where he played basketball…an easier name to pronounce than his birth name of Krekor Ohanian, given to him by his Armenian parents. “Touch” served in the US Army Air Forces during World War II, and when the war ended he attended UCLA on the G. I. Bill of Rights and a basketball scholarship. Director William Wellman was in the audience for a UCLA basketball game and noticed how expressive Connor’s face was; Wellman asked the coach to see if Connors would be interested in acting and got an affirmative answer. Soon after, Mike Connors was asked by UCLA to try out for plays and he switched his major to theatre, studying acting.

In an interview with Colin Dangaard published in the Sarasota Tribune in 1978, Mike Connors recalled meeting his wife Mary Lou Wiley while he was still in college as an undergrad; they married in September, 1949. Son Matthew Gunanr Ohanion was born in 1958

mike connors, michael connors, 90th birthday, touch connors, krekor ohanian, armenian, mary lou wiley, mary lou willey, senior citizens, mentally disabled, schizophrenia, mentally ill, nursing home, septuagenarian and octogenarian, sudden fear, jack palance, joan crawfordMike Connors had received his undergraduate degree and was studying law when he got his first on-screen acting role, in the movie Sudden Fear (1952), starring Joan Crawford. From left, Jack Palance, Joan Crawford, Gloria Grahame, Mike Connors, and Bruce Bennett in Sudden Fear. (Photo: explore.bfi.org.uk)

Initially he was professionally billed by his basketball nickname, “Touch”, with the last name changed to Connors because Ohanian was considered too close to O’Hanlon (another actor of the day).

More “B” movie roles – quite a few of them in horror films such as The Day the World Ended (1955) with Richard Denning (Hawaii Five-O) – followed for “Touch” Connors in the 1950’s. He appeared in the western Five Guns West (1955) co-starring with Dorothy Malone (Peyton Place). Below, Dorothy Malone and Mike Connors in Five Guns West.

dorothy malone, actress, movies, five guns west, 1955, mike connors, western movies (Photo: YouTube | Five Guns West 1955)

By this time television had come along and Mike Connors began landing guest spots in different television series including episodes in several westerns such as Gunsmoke (1956), Maverick (1957), and Wagon Train (1958).

mike connors, michael connors, touch connors, actor, 90th birthday, krekor ohanian, armenian, senior citizens, nursing home, septuagenarian and octogenarian, nick stone, tightrope, 1960When Mike Connors was cast as Nick Stone, the star of Tightrope (1959-1960), a crime television show, his professional first name was changed from “Touch” to Mike. Tightrope was the first starring role and significant money that Connors achieved in his acting career.

Left, Mike Connors, Leigh Snowden and Claire Kelly in Tightrope. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Daughter Dana Lee Connors was born in 1960 and completed the young Connors family.

Post Tightrope, Connors continued to act in supporting roles in movies – the TV movie The Expendables (1962) with Dina Merrill; Good Neighbour Sam (1963): and Where Love Has Gone (1964) – and as a guest star in television series, including Perry Mason (1964). 

In 1967 Mike Connors landed the lead role in the television series he is most closely associated with by baby boomers to this day, that of tough detective Joe Mannix in the CBS series Mannix (1967-1975). On the show, Joe Mannix is assisted by his African-American secretary Peggy, played by actress Gail Fisher (seasons 2-8).

gail fisher, african american actress, 1960s tv show, mannix, peggy, 1970s tv series Gail Fisher as Peggy on Mannix. (Photo: YouTube | Mannix 1969)

Actor Joseph Campanella played Lew Wickersham, Mannix’s Intertect boss from 1967-1972. During the series run for Mannix, both Gail Fisher and Mike Connors were nominated several times for Emmy Awards (Gail Fisher won once) and Golden Globe Awards (Connors won once, in 1969; and Fisher won twice). 

nancy kovack, mike connors, mannix, american actor, american actress, 1960s tv series, 1970s tv shows Above, Mike Connors with guest star Nancy Kovack on Mannix. (Photo: YouTube | Mannix 1969)

The year after Mannix went off the air, Connor co-stared with Mariette Hartley, Clu Gulager, Patrick O’Neal and James Shigeta in the TV thriller The Killer Who Wouldn’t Die (1976)

In a 2008 interview with the Washington Post (the year the Mannix series was released on DVD), Connors recalled doing his own stunts on the series, breaking his wrist and dislocating his shoulder while filming the pilot episode of Mannix.

In an 1998 article by Ann Conway for The Los Angeles Times, it was reported that while Mannix was on the air, Connor’s son Matthew, who had begun hearing voices and experiencing hallucinations at age 15, was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Mike Connors became a vocal supporter of the mentally ill and worked to erase the stigma of mental illness. Connors was recognized by UC Irvine College of Medicine’s Brain Imaging Center Committee with the Silver Ribbon Award in 1998 for his contribution to this cause.

When Mannix ended, now 50+ Mike Connors had a short break from acting before being cast in several movies. He co-starred in the TV movie Long Journey Back (1978) with Cloris Leachman, Stephanie Zimbalist, and Nicolas Coster.

Mike Connors had a supporting role in the big-screen cold-ward thriller Avalanche Express (1979), and in other made-for-TV movies and guest-starring roles in television series. His next starring role in a television series was as Ben Slater, leader of a team of top FBI agents in Today’s F.B.I. (1981-1982). 

During the rest of the 1980’s, Mike Connors continued to act in “B” movies and on television, scoring the role of Air Force Colonel Harrison “Hack” Peters in the mini-series War and Remembrance (1988). As he entered his senior citizen years in the 1990’s, he appeared in the occasional television guest spot and supporting actor role in movies such as the tragi-comedy Gideon (1999) about a much younger, mentally disabled man (Christopher Lambert) living in a nursing home with grumpy male and female senior citizens. 

In his septuagenarian and octogenarian senior years, Mike Connors was essentially retired although he did make an appearance in the movie Nobody Knows Anything (2003) as Joe Mannix, and as Hugo on an episode of Two and a Half Men (2007). His son Matthew Connors died in 2007 from heart failure, a tragedy for Connors and his family; he’s been completely retired since then. When the Mannix series was released to DVD in 2007, in a television interview for Fox News the 83-year-old actor explained he kept in shape with swimming and playing golf, and credited his happy marriage to keeping him young.

mike connors, michael connors, 90th birthday, touch connors, krekor ohanian, armenian, senior citizen, octogenarianIn 2011 Connors sued CBS and Paramount for unrealized royalties from Mannix; an undisclosed settlement was reached later that year. Today senior citizen Mike Connors aka Krekor Ohanian, celebrates his 90th birthday – and looks forward to his 66th wedding anniversary with wife Mary Lou in September.

(2013 Photo: Mike Connors)

Happy 90th Birthday, Mike Connors!

Updates:

June 12, 2016 – Mike Connors fan mail address and instructions can be found here: http://www.fanmail.biz/7482.html

anita hamilton, senior city, copywriter, creative writer, research, hamilton ontario, sales, marketing, copy writing, elderly parents, local housing, local products, local servicesAbout The Author

Baby boomer Anita Hamilton lives in Hamilton, Ontario with her family and 3 mini-dachshund minions. She’s a lifelong voracious reader who enjoys researching and has extensive experience in sales, marketing and copy writing. Senior City was inspired when she had difficulty finding local housing, products and services online for her elderly parents.

50 thoughts on “Celebrating Seniors – Mike Connors Turns 90”

  1. Elizabeth Goforth says:

    Loved the show “Mannix”, especially since it was one of few with an African American co-star back in the day. Yep, I am a Black Baby Boomer.

    Love that the stars back in the day believed in love and marriage…..til death do us part.

    Be blessed, Mike.

  2. mrs. Beverly Fernzndez . We're celebrAting our 56th anniversary in Nov. says:

    Met mr corners when I worked at the Logan Hilton Hotel in east Boston ma. very nice and down yo earth man. I had the gift shop at the old Hilton at the airport he came to Boston when his daughter was at school there. my son shares the same birthday as he 8-15
    Great actor . Have a great anniversary and 90 th birthday.

    1. Timothy Craig says:

      I met Mike Connors aka MANNIX at bel-air country club where he played golf and was a long time member , through one of the parking attendants , he introduced me to Mike , He was so great , he gave a huge hug , and signed an autograph picture . we talk for 5 min , then he had to go , I’ll never forget how much of a nice man he was , I’ll miss him. I have all 8seasons on DVD , Tim Craig , Ontario CA.

    2. elena says:

      Hi, I’m a big Mike Connors Mannix fan too . What schools did his daughter go to in Boston was this in 1977 or 78 that u met him ?

  3. Mary Sue Sagor says:

    I was married in Oklahoma City on Jan 20, 1968, a Saturday. We were driving to Vegas for our honeymoon, leaving OKC after the 4:00PM wedding, As I recall, Mannix was on Saturday evening at 7:00 or 8:00PM…I made my brand new husband stop driving and check into a motel about 6:30…he thought…, well, you can guess what he thought!
    But, when we got to the room, I turned on the television and started looking for MANNIX!!! I barely even looked at Bill until the show was over, then I was hungry and wanted to go get dinner. NOT an auspicious start to years of wedded bliss!
    The next night when I insisted we check into the hotel early, he thought I was going to make up for the insult I had given him the night before…but then he decided that our honeymoon was an impossible mission when I once again turned on the tv to watch MISSION IMPOSSIBLE…
    The marriage only lasted 5 years. Mannix was still on the air “for me” when we divorced in 1973, and I was still watching it every week…it was more faithful to me than the hubby was!!!
    Mike, you brought excitement and entertainment into my life with your every performance! I am delighted that you are alive and well and loving every minute of it!
    I look forward to wishing you a “Happy 100th”!

  4. Leonidas says:

    Happy birth day Mike .love mannix I am so sad you retired but forever u stay in my heart bless you always thanks for supporting mental health I suffer from panic desorder an all my brothers is in my mother beans my heart go to you an loveonces on your lost of your son I did enjoyed watching mannix thank for making all your fan happeeeee

  5. Eulalean says:

    Always loved the series Mannix. He was such a good p i, helping his clients. Loved watching the show. Matter fact l’m watching a episode now. Mr. Connors is such a handsome man even now.

  6. Stephen says:

    Enjoyed watching Mannix when I was a kid, 7 yrs old when it came on. Would love to see it brought back on the GETTV or METV these days being old school.

  7. Pamela Ziola says:

    I am watching the reruns on H&I. I have fond memories of watching this show with my parents and siblings. All are gone except myself so I feel close to them when I am watching the show. Happy belated birthday Mr. Connors and may you have many more. Thank you for everything!

  8. Kris Lang says:

    Happy Belated 90th Birthday, Mr. Conners,
    I am a huge Mannix fan, growing up in Pasadena, CA., my stepfather and I enjoyed watching the series together, unfortunately my biological father who was of full Armenian decent passed away when I was only 16 months old. I am trying to stay connected to my Armenian roots and learn more about the culture. I was delighted when my husband (been married 36 yrs, hope to follow in your footsteps) bought me the complete collection of Mannix. He and I are enjoying the first season now almost ready to start season two.
    Sincerely,
    Kris Lang

    P.S. Enjoyed seeing you in an episode of Two and a Half Men.

  9. Diane L. Davin says:

    Dear Mr. Connors,

    I watched Mannix when I was a young teenage girl….had such a crush on you back then, & as it turns out, you’re still a handsome man! Your show was entertaining & also was iconic in nature, without really knowing it! You showed us all how to treat people with dignity & fairness; 2 things that are occasionally missing in our world today! Thank you for a wonderful show!

  10. Ed Jemola says:

    Mr. Conners,

    Happy 91st in August. I too enjoyed Mannix watching it with my dad. You were simply great! I often think of you Joe.

  11. Tangee says:

    I enjoy mannix show back in the days!!! And my dad still watch Mannix!! Even though it’s not August yet!! You have a very happy happy birthday August 15th 2016 that the same day my son was born on!!! And many more!!! You look very wonderful!!! Enjoy!! Enjoy!!! May God please you!!! Love you!!!

  12. Marc Kramer says:

    Mr. Connors;

    In advance, happy and healthy 91st!!! Many more!!! I remember watching the first run Mannix episodes with my father every Sunday night and I still enjoy watching them in syndication on the cable TV station “Tuff TV” almost every afternoon when my work permits. Since my dad’s passing, 7 years now, it makes me feel like he’s in someway closer by when I’m enjoying the reruns.

    It certainly was interesting to learn that you did your own stunts in the pilot episode! I must admit that I was
    somewhat humored while also sorry to read that you had to “suck it up” by sustaining your own injuries from it! You and your character combined to portray one very tough private “dick”!!! Best of luck to you and your wife always!!!

    Respectfully yours,

  13. David says:

    David. June 12, 2016

    Dear Mr. Connors,
    I thought Mannix was one 8of the greatest TV detective shows ever. I have several DVDs of Mannix. You played a good character who was always fair to everyone
    Happy 91st -in August, and many more.

  14. pauly G. says:

    Hi Mike, Happy 91 in august 15,2016 and many more to come, and God Bless and stay healthy. An Old friend from TWA, at JFK. Paul Goehring.

  15. Len says:

    Happy 90th,birthday mr, Connors .i am alittle older than you 93 plus but was a fully avid fan of man nix and you filmed a movie in Canada in Vancouver British Columbia .you were a doctor whose wife was raped and you sought vengeance . It was a sad movie but you were fantastic in it. So reach 100 and get free haircuts.

  16. Edith Bray says:

    As a child I’d enjoy Lunch With Soupy Sales. But now recovering from foot surgery, I’m enjoying lunch with Mannix every day! I love the costumes, sets, cars and guest stars. And the whole feel of my youth back in the ’60’s. What a great era! Thank you Mr. Connors for your suave, cool and athletic charm. My younger sister still has a mad crush on you. God’s blessing on your anniversary and Happy Birthday!

  17. Dan and Chris Bauer says:

    Still watching your show in re-runs. Happy Birthday and Happy upcoming wedding anniversary. God has blessed you immensely.

  18. Laura says:

    Grew up watching Mannix. Love the shows. Happy Belated birthday, so nice to see Hollywood marriages lastin over 66 years. God Bless

  19. Dolores (Dolly) Gritt says:

    I loved you too…Joe mannix!!!! You were a highlight for me growing up in Philly and N.J. …We would order pizza , cheessteaks and spaghetti and meatballs from DODOS PIZZA in Torresdale Pa, at my Aunt Doris’ house in Philly while we watched Mannix.!! :)) I still love you like family and though most of my family has gone on to be with the Lord now…It brings back a flood of Happy Memories as I sit here at my computer and watch all your re-runs…Thank you for bringing “good Tv” then and now Mike. God bless you. Have a Happy Birthday and Im so glad you and your Beautiful wife are still together and are a good example that marriages can last a lifetime still. Love ya, god bless, Dolly (54) in Deland, Florida now. <3 xoxo ( I Miss Peggy too ) <3

  20. Jan says:

    Happy Birthday, Mike Conners! I sure hope your knee & back issue have resolved somewhat! Mannix has always been a favorite of mine! I loved the chemistry, respect & love shown between Joe & Peggy!! Joe’s honesty really stood out! Tightrope was also fun to watch on YouTube. It was Mannix in the making! I really hope all is well with & your wife. Also Happy Anniversary in Sept!

  21. Larry says:

    Hi Mike
    My name me is Larry from Guelph, Ontario.
    I just been watching Mannix. I was 13 when it initally aired and never saw it in colour.
    I mentioned it to my mother who remembers Mannix as she is in palliative care now. Your both are the same age.
    Happy birthday this Monday all the best.
    It was nice to see the old 1960s cars and the clothing styles that some are in style now and the guests who were so young back then.The music theme and opening was ahead of its time.

  22. Pamela Hepp says:

    Hi, I am going to do this right but SO excited right now so I will try this for now. My name is Pamela Hepp and I too have always loved Mannix. I am 57 and I remember my mom watching Mike Connors way back when it was on.As you know the reruns are on and I have them all taped. A lot of them. Still love the program today. I was reading Mike’s bio and then I saw it. Mike and his wife had a son and when I was reading about Mike’s life, there it was. I too have a son diagnosed with schizophrenia. I have lived with this illness for 8 long years and TRULY know and FEEL for what the Connor’s family endured. I saw Mike was an advocate for mental illness and until today I just thought I loved him as Mannix. Can u PLEASE have Mr. Connors GET A HOLD of me. My son is BETTER due to a drug called clozapine which I got off a FACTUAL Lifetime Movie, called Dare to Love with the beautiful Josie Bisset and that hottie, Jason GIedric. I am trying to DO SOMETHING to help other families. I have wrote DR. Phil, 4 times. NOTHING. I wrote LIFETIME movie Station thanking them. Can u help me…with happiness, tears and gratitude.

  23. Dr.J.Thamo says:

    Like so much to watch this detective series. Tremendous acting by Mike Conners plus superb sytle and perfomance. Cheers always to you.

  24. Sylvia Ann Gomez says:

    I enjoyed watching Mannix reruns on H&I channel. So sad they stopped showing it but i plan to buy the DVD series all 8 seasons! Mike is sooo handsome, i’ve had a crush on him since i was a teenager. Happy belated birthday Mike, may you have many many more. Your shows bring me much enjoyment.

  25. gary7 says:

    HAPPY 91ST BIRTHDAY MIKE, WHEN THE ICONIC THEME OF MANNIX CAME ON SAT NITES IT WAS TIME FOR POCORN, SODAS AND WONDER HOW MANY TIMES JOE IS GONNA GET KICKED PUNCHED OR HEAVEN FORBID..SHOT………THIS EPISODE…………………AND IT WAS SHOWN ON CBS AND TO KIDS!!!!!!!!!

  26. Paulette Williams says:

    Happy 91st Birthday, I’m watching Mannix right at this moment, I’m a 67 yr old Baby Boomer, when the show was on the air, I never missed a show, back than that was watching real TV, I wish
    You blessings, and love & light.

  27. Jay Johnson says:

    Happy 91st Mike! I used to watch Mannix as a kid. I have all the DVD’s and now my son whose 12 is watching them with me. Even a few of his friends like the shows. Proud to have to introduced the classic detective show to the millennial generation.

    I often think of Mannix when I wear my Rayban Caravan pilot sunglasses.

  28. Gary Akin says:

    Happy birthday Mr Conners, Our favorite investigator. I just bought the complete Mannix series on DVD. Brings back a lot of good memories. Glad that your doing well. Take care. Your fans forever. Gary & Noelle

  29. Brenda Jackson says:

    Hi mr mannix oh wow i love your show grew up on the show
    Id run n ait for your show n it helo wanna be a detective n so im happy ur here i live you hoped id eet u one day. Be bless sir i pray live that long more trs u look good God bless you n keep u ur biggest fan

  30. Mark Z. says:

    I too was a fan of Mannix when it was on originally and watched it when I could. I am watching a show right now on METV. I’m glad they are airing the shows. You had a good career and I wish you well and good health.

  31. Becky Sease says:

    Love that Mannix is now on MEtv! I have such fond memories watching the original shows with my dad in our tv room, growing up in that time period was great and Mr. Mike Connors was pure class! I wish you well , Mr.Connors! My dad is watching from heaven!

  32. Sandra Y says:

    Hi!! I just loved Mannix. My mother and I would watch every week. That is something I looked forward to. Had a bad crush. Always well-dressed. Very glad you are still around.

  33. Jeff Lux says:

    I am enjoying viewing the re-runs of Mannix on the MEtv channel……so great to see stories and pictures of Mr. Connors in his 90’s on internet sites and wish him further the best.

  34. Mark M says:

    Love that MEtv is showing Mannix, although showing locally at 2am. I DVR it and like seeing Joseph Campanella in the early episodes and hearing the jazzy theme, reminiscent of the era. Thanks Mike for showing what class was back in the day. God Bless.

  35. Mark Z. says:

    So sad to hear about the passing of Mike. His contributions to the entertainment industry were appreciated. He was a good actor. That says it all. My condolences to his family.

  36. Jim McComb says:

    Just learned of your passing, Mike . . . I’m saddened at the news and will keep your wife and daughter in prayer this week. More than 40 years later, I’m still a Mannix fan . . . thanks for so many great memories. One of the thrills of my life was meeting you in Burbank back in 2009 . . . posted the photo of us on Facebook tonight. Rest in peace, Mike . . . Godspeed

  37. gary saraceno says:

    Thank you for letting me comment,,,,,,,,its jan 30 and im here at a starbucks in florida, was talking to 2 very nice young men .and as Fate would have it i asked them what their nationality one said he was a “mix” and the young man said he ws Armeanian.. right away being 71 i though of a man who WAS just simply a “hero” to me my whole life .. Mike Connors…somas i went toshow these two young men on my computer my hero i am just shell-shocked i read that mike passed away.. my onlynregret which is huge for me is that i never met him.. but he was such an inspiration because i knew this man a man who always tried toto what was right and he had so much class..and integrity.. my prayers go out to his wife and family . rest in peace Mike Connors…… Gary Saraceno

  38. Dr. Neil Ross says:

    I was so sad to hear of Mike’s passing. I was telling a patient about the Mannix series being rebroadcast on MeTV, and what a great show it is, when he told me Mike died.

    Mike brought something personal to his roles. He was an endearing hero and I always looked forward to his performances.
    I was about to write to him to tell him so, and to thank him for all the years. I will try to contact his family soon.

  39. Taylor Baxter says:

    Mr. Connors was an incredible father figure to me during my teen years. His character Joe Mannix taught me that I could do anything I put my mind to. Condolences to the family. He will be missed.

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