Mike Connors (1925 - 2017)

Mike Connors, the B-movie actor who found stardom on the long-running detective series "Mannix," died Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017, in Tarzana, California, according to multiple news sources. He was 91.

The death was announced by his son-in-law, Mike Condon, who told Variety that the actor had leukemia.

Connors played the private investigator Joe Mannix on the CBS television series that ran from 1967 to 1975.

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Connors was born Krekor Ohanian Aug. 15, 1925, in Fresno, California. He was of Armenian descent. He served during World War II in the U.S. Army Air Forces. After the war, he attended the University of California at Los Angeles on a basketball scholarship. His basketball coach was the legendary UCLA coach John Wooden.

It was during his college basketball career that a director, William Wellman, noticed Connors' strong facial expressions and encouraged him to start an acting career.

After the actor had played a character named Touch Connors on a TV show and in movies during the 1950s, a talent agent suggested that name as his stage name -- so as not to be confused with the actor George O'Hanlon.

Connors' early film credits included "Island in the Sky," which starred John Wayne, and Cecil B. DeMille's blockbuster "The Ten Commandments," in which he played a shepherd alongside Charlton Heston.

During the mid-to-late '50s, Connors turned to television, appearing on such TV series as "Frontier," "City Detective," "State Trooper," and "Maverick."

He later had a starring role on "Tightrope!" from 1959 to 1960, which led to "Mannix" beginning in 1967. After "Mannix," he starred on the short-lived "Today's F.B.I.," which ran from 1981 to 1982.

Connors continued to act on TV as well as in films from the 1985 to 2003 including the films "Too Scared To Scream" (1985), "Fist Fighter" (1989), "Downtown Heat" (1994), "Gideon" (1998) and "The Extreme Adventures of Super Dave" (2000). He reprised his role as Joe Mannix in the 2003 comedy film "Nobody Knows Anything!"

Connors returned to TV in 2007 to appear in an episode of "Two and a Half Men."

His wife of 67 years, Mary Lou Wells, survives him along with a daughter and a granddaughter.

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