Back in Junior High School, when I walked around campus with books and notebooks my imagination continued to grow. I never was a great student. I used my notebooks for sketching and making up stories. Most of my tales involved deception, babes, guns, betrayal and murder.
My lead character was Mike Sean, private eye. His name was derived from Mike Connors (Mannix) and Sean Connery (James Bond).
Many of you probably watched or are at least familiar with Mannix, an American detective television series that ran from 1967 to 1975 on CBS.
However, most probably don’t know a lot about Mike Connors. He was born Krekor Ohanian, Jr. (Armenian: Գրիգոր Օհանեան), on August 15, 1925, in Fresno, California, to Armenian parents Krekor Ohanian, Sr. (1881–1944) and Alice (née Surabian; 1898–1978). They married in 1915 and had six children: Paul I, Paul II, Dorothy M., Arpesri A., Krekor, and Eugene. His father was an attorney and represented many Armenians who had little money and could not speak English.
His agent Henry Willson thought the name “Ohanian” was too similar to the actor George O'Hanlon and gave him the stage name “Touch Connors” based on his basketball nickname. Willson considered “Connors" to be a "good all-American name.”
Connors later stated he hated the name “from day one” and considered not using his real name the only big regret of his career.
Many probably didn’t start watching Mannix prior to the second season when the stories were about him opening his own detective agency, where he was assisted by his secretary Peggy Fair (Gail Fisher).
The first season, however, he worked for Intertect, a large Los Angeles detective agency run by his superior Lew Wickersham (Joseph Campanella).
Connors performed his own stunts on the series. During the filming of the pilot episode, he broke his wrist and dislocated his shoulder. He spoke Armenian in a number of episodes and often quoted Armenian proverbs.
“The show itself started a whole new era of detective shows, because this wasn't the usual cynical private eye à la Humphrey Bogart. It was more a show about an all-round normal human being. The character of Joe Mannix could be taken advantage of by a pretty face, he could shed a tear on an emotional level, he was very close to his father and his family, so he was more a normal personality with normal behaviour,” Mike said.
Connors died in Tarzana, California, at the age of 91 on January 26, 2017 of leukemia.