“Mike Connors, who starred as a brawling L.A. private eye on the long-running CBS crime drama ‘Mannix,’ died [Thursday] of leukemia at a hospital in Tarzana, CA,” reports Deadline.com, noting that the actor was 91 years old.
The story adds: “Connors had been diagnosed only a week ago with the disease. He died surrounded by the love of family, including his wife Mary Lou of 68 years whom he met while they were students at UCLA.”
Notes The New York Times, “A reporter for The Washington Post tabulated the wear and tear that Mannix withstood over eight seasons; it included 17 gunshot wounds and 55 instances of being beaten unconscious.”
“Mannix,” from Desilu, aired on CBS, premiering in 1967. The Times notes that the show “drew heavy criticism for its violent content but quickly became the most popular crime series in an era punctuated by comedies [such as] ‘All in the Family’ and ‘Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In.’ Mr. Connors’ hard-boiled take on the maverick detective eventually made him one of the highest-paid television actors of the 1970s, as well as earning him four Emmy Award nominations and a Golden Globe Award.”
The Times adds: “‘Mannix’ was also notable for providing one of the first leading roles on a regular series to an African-American performer: Gail Fisher joined the show in its second season as Mannix’s secretary, frequent damsel in distress and occasional potential love interest. She died in 2000.”
Here’s the opening title scene of “Mannix” that we found on YouTube. The terrific pounding score is by Lalo Schifrin, who also wrote the popular title music for “Mission Impossible.” Both “Mannix” and “Mission Impossible” were developed for TV by Bruce Geller. The highest ranking “Mannix” ever achieved in the season-long national ratings was 7th, in the 1971-1972 season.