Tuesday, June 7, 2011

6/7 Larry Manetti & Michael Horn Talk with Mike Connors!

Connors was born Krekor Ohanian in Fresno, California, of Armenian descent. He was an avid basketball player in high school who was nicknamed "Touch" by his teammates. During World War II he served in the United States Army Air Forces.

After the war he attended the University of California at Los Angeles on a basketball scholarship, where he was a member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity. William A. Wellman got him into acting after noticing his expressive face while Connors was playing basketball. He appeared on the Los Angeles CBS station as "Touch" Connors in an episode of Jukebox Jury before the program went national via ABC in 1953. Connors is credited in his early films, such as Island in the Sky (1953), Swamp Women, a.k.a. Swamp Diamonds, Five Guns West (1955), and Flesh and the Spur (1957) as "Touch Connors".

He played basketball for Coach John Wooden at UCLA.

Connors recalled in an interview that he was renamed by Henry Willson saying that "Ohanian" was too close to the actor George O'Hanlonand came up with "Touch Connors".

In 1956, still billed as Touch Connors, he played an Amalekite herder in Cecil B. DeMille's The Ten Commandments starring Charlton Heston.

He appeared in numerous television series, including the co-starring role in the 1955 episode "Tomas and the Widow" of the NBC westernanthology series Frontier. He guest starred on Jeannie Carson's unsuccessful 1956-1957 situation comedy Hey, Jeannie!. He appeared in two Rod Cameron syndicated crime dramas, City Detective and the western-themed State Trooper, and played the villain in the first episode filmed (but second one aired) of ABC-TV's smash hit Maverick opposite James Garner in 1957. He also appeared on two other syndicated series, The Silent Service, based on true stories of the submarine section of the United States Navy, and Sheriff of Cochise, set aboutBisbee, Arizona.

In 1965, he co-starred in one of Robert Redford's earliest film roles, a WWII black comedy, Situation Hopeless... But Not Serious alongside Sir Alec Guinness. Connors thereafter launched his own series: CBS's Tightrope (September 8, 1959–September 13, 1960), CBS's Mannix (September 16, 1967–August 27, 1975) and ABC's Today's F.B.I. (October 25, 1981–August 14, 1982).

His Tightrope series was very popular in Mexico during the early 1960s, so the local recording company Discos Orfeon released a 45 rpm single of Connors singing in Spanish. Conners also appeared in the episode of the TV Series Alcoa Presents: One Step Beyond called "The Aerialist."

Connors' long history of police and military roles very possibly was the reason he was chosen to play Air Force Colonel Harrison "Hack" Peters in Herman Wouk's 1988 World War II-based miniseries War and Remembrance.

Connors lives in Encino, California.

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