Mike Connors, Star of ‘Mannix,’ Dies at 91

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6:37 PM PST 1/26/2017 by Mike Barnes, The Hollywood Reporter

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‘Mannix,’ the last series from Lucille Ball’s and Desi Arnaz’s Desilu Productions, aired for eight seasons from September 1967 until April 1975.

Mike Connors, who took a punch as well as anyone while playing the good-guy private detective on the long-running Saturday night action series Mannix for CBS, has died. He was 91.

A former basketball player for legendary coach John Wooden at UCLA, Connors died on Thursday, The Hollywood Reporter confirmed, but no other details were readily available.

Mannix, the last series from Lucille Ball’s and Desi Arnaz’s famed TV company Desilu Productions, aired for eight seasons from September 1967 until April 1975. Created by Richard Levinson and William Link and developed by executive producer Bruce Geller, the hit series featured a memorable score from jazz great Lalo Schifrin and starred Connors as a noble Korean War veteran who leaves a large Los Angeles detective agency to strike out on his own.

Mannix drove several hot automobiles during the series’ run (some souped up by George Barris), including a 1969 Dodge Dart, a 1970 Plymouth Barracuda convertible and a 1974 Dodge Challenger. He was often seen bailing out of these cars when the brakes were tampered with — that is, when he wasn’t getting beaten up or shot at by the bad guys. (By one count, Mannix was shot 17 times and knocked unconscious 55 other times on the show). His athleticism and striking dark looks were perfect for the role.

Though Mannix was criticized for being excessively violent when it aired, Connors said in a 1997 interview with the Los Angeles Times that the series was tame by modern-day standards.

“We did have car chases and fights,” he recalled, “but when you compare them to shows that are on now, we were very, very low-keyed.”

For all the physical abuse, Connors became one of the highest-paid stars on television, earning $40,000 an episode at the height of the show’s ratings run. (He sued CBS and Paramount in May 2011, claiming he was never paid royalties on the show despite being owed millions of dollars.)

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