Mike Connors, best known for playing detective Joe Mannix on 1960s and ’70s show “Mannix,” died Thursday in Tarzana, Calif. He was 91. He had been diagnosed a week ago with leukemia, according to his son-in-law Mike Condon.
“Mannix” ran for eight seasons from 1968 to 1975 and was the last series from Desilu Productions. Connors won a Golden Globe for his performance as a tough, athletic investigator, who in quintessential detective show style, insisted on doing things his own way and often got beat up in the process. He drove an impressive series of muscle cars including a Dodge Dart and Chevrolet Camaro.
Desilu president Lucille Ball convinced CBS not to cancel the show despite initial poor ratings, and the show caught on after being retooled into a somewhat more conventional detective series. Mannix’s secretary, played by Gail Fisher, was one of few African-American actresses on TV at the time. “Here’s Lucy” produced a crossover episode in 1971 with Connors and Ball, called “Lucy and Mannix are Held Hostage.”
As recently as 2007, he made a guest appearance on “Two and a Half Men.” His other TV appearances included “Murder, She Wrote,” “Love Boat” and “Walker, Texas Ranger.”
The handsome square-jawed actor also appeared in early ’60s TV series “Tightrope!” and “Today’s F.B.I.” in the early ’80s. He later played Colonel Hack Peters in Herman Wouk miniseries “War and Remembrance.”