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Monday 24 July 2017

Mannix star Mike Connors dies at 91

Mike Connors pictured in 2009 (AP file/Reed Saxon)
Mike Connors pictured in 2009 (AP file/Reed Saxon)

Mike Connors, who played a hard-hitting private eye on the long-running US TV series Mannix, has died at 91.

His son-in-law, Mike Condon, said the actor died on Thursday at a Los Angeles hospital from recently-diagnosed leukaemia.

Mannix debuted on CBS in 1967 and ran for eight years.

Viewers were intrigued by the smartly dressed, well-spoken Los Angeles detective who could still mix it up with thugs - episodes normally climaxed with a brawl.

Connors once said that until Mannix, TV private investigators were hard-nosed and cynical, while Mannix "got emotionally involved" in his cases.

The actor also starred in the short-lived TV shows Tightrope and Today's FBI.

His film roles included Sudden Fear with Joan Crawford, Island In The Sky, The Ten Commandments, and a remake of Stagecoach.

Connors, born Krekor Ohanian, was from an Armenian community in Fresno, California.

He served in the US Air Force during the Second World War and played basketball at the University of California, Los Angeles.

After graduation he studied law for two years but his good looks and imposing presence attracted him to acting.

In an era when film actors were given names like Tab and Rock, he appeared as Touch Connors - Touch was his basketball nickname.

He later changed it to Michael and finally, Mike.

Connors and his wife Mary Lou were married in 1949 and had two children, a son, Matthew, and a daughter, Dana.

Matthew, beset by hallucinations starting in his teens, was diagnosed with schizophrenia and before his death lived in a small residential care home.

Connors and his wife later championed efforts to erase the stigma of mental illness.

In addition to his wife, daughter and son-in-law, Connors is survived by a granddaughter, Cooper Wills.

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