Mike Connors--whose real name is Krekor Ohanian--was born in Fresno, California, on August 15, 1925. While attending UCLA on a basketball scholarship, he was spotted by film director William Wellman, who encouraged him to pursue acting. Young Krekor readily agreed. In the process, he changed his name to Touch Connors, and then finally to Mike Connors.
His first film role, in 1952, was in "Sudden Fear" with Joan Crawford. But Mike's career blossomed in television, not films. Although he has made hundreds of TV appearances, Mike is best known for the three shows on which he regularly appeared: "Tightrope" (CBS, 1959-60); "Mannix" (CBS, 1967-75); and "Today's FBI" (ABC, 1981-82).
Interestingly, all three were crime dramas, a television format well-suited to his macho acting style. In "Tightrope," Mike starred as an anonymous undercover agent--sometimes called "Nick"--assigned to infiltrate organized crime. He came close to repeating that role more than 20 years later in "Today's FBI," an update of the seminal ABC show, "The FBI," starring Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. In this newfangled version, Mike played Ben Slater, an FBI supervisor overseeing four agents, one of whom was named Nick.
However, it was as Joe Mannix that Mike got to shine. Whether employed by the computer-obsessed Intertect company in the first season (an advanced concept in 1967), or self-employed thereafter, Mannix knew how to solve crimes quickly, and, as some criticized during its run, violently.
Following its cancellation in 1975, Mike appeared as a talk-show guest on shows including "The Mike Douglas Show" and "The John Davidson Show." In 1984, he actively supported Ronald Reagan's re-election efforts. He made a guest appearance in a "Murder, She Wrote" episode in 1989, the same year he starred in the ABC miniseries "War and Remembrance." Between these stints, he worked in a St. Petersburg, Florida, dinner theater.
In 1991, he good-naturedly poked fun at his tough-guy image, by appearing with SCTV's Dave Thomas in Showtime's "Public Enemy #2," which People magazine labeled "a funny special... a perfect lampoon ."
Looking back on his "Mannix" days, Mike defends the show. He told one interviewer, "There is hardly a show on television today in that genre that isn't more violent than "Mannix" was. We never really killed people; they were [just] shot and wounded." He has little respect for current crime programs, in which he thinks there are "explosions and shootings and knifings every time you turn around." Mike has two grown children from his longtime marriage to Mary Lou Riley. Neither child is an actor.