Fresno native Mike Connors, who starred in the CBS drama “Mannix” from 1967 to 1975, was not among the celebrities honored in memoriam during Sunday’s telecast of the Screen Actors Guild Awards. Connors didn’t get that attention, but his death last week at age 91 from complications of leukemia that had been diagnosed a week earlier has not gone unnoticed. Numerous fans of the actor, whose real name was Krekor Ohanian, reached out to share their memories.
John Kovacs, president of Mile High Human Resources in Golden, Colo., not only got an autographed photo from Connors but the huge “Mannix” fan also received a personal phone call.
“Mike called me at my home last February. We talked for a good 20 minutes about the show and Robert Reed and Gail Fisher and her casting, and the hardships she encountered after it ended, among other things,” Kovacs says. “I was stunned that such a famous star from my childhood would call me and be so gracious.”
Kovacs was such a fan of Connors that he wrote to the producers of the new “Hawaii 5-0” on CBS urging them to cast Connors in a guest-starring role the way they had cast Carol Burnett and Ed Asner. During their conversation, Connors told Kovacs that despite getting calls from the network on a monthly basis to do an episode, he didn’t think at his age he could do the quality of work that he would want to do.
It would have been one more credit in a long career for Connors. Although he’s best known for his work on “Mannix,” other performance on his résumé include “Maverick,” “Wagon Train,” “Tightrope,” “Today’s F.B.I.,” “Love Boat” and “War and Remembrance.” His last credited work was a 2007 episode of “Two and a Half Men.”
“I only talked with Mike that one time, but his World War II ‘Greatest Generation’ personality came through – a decent, hardworking, humble guy who struck it big yet remembered where he came from,” Kovacs says.
Connors also narrated the documentary “William Saroyan: The Man, the Writer.” A silver anniversary screening of the documentary will be held at 2 p.m. March 5 at Fresno’s First Armenian Presbyterian Church, 430 S. First St.
Dr. Susie Kalinian, producer of the documentary, and her father, Paul Kalinian, writer and director of the film, were saddened about the death of Connors.
“We always admired his rich, distinctive voice and sincere character acting, especially as the charismatic detective Joe Mannix,” Susie Kalinian says. “I recall Mike Connors as being very humble, handsome and tall.”
Connors volunteered his time do work on the film. The narration was recorded in 1989 at Sunset Sound in Los Angeles.
The producer recalls how Connors joked after being asked to repeat a script line several times because his voice sounded raspy: “You know, people pay thousands of dollars for that raspy voice!”
KVPR (FM 89.5) won six awards, KFSR (FM 90.7) earned one honor and KGPE (Channel 47.1) picked up the top prize for Best Weather Segment at the “67th Annual Golden Mike Awards” handed out in in Los Angeles on Saturday.
Faith Sidlow won in the Best News Special division for a story she did for KFSR on the Honor Flight.
The awards are presented annually by the Radio & Television News Association of Southern California. The organization includes broadcast newsrooms in California from the Mexican border north to Fresno.
The wins for KVPR include:
Best individual writing: Kerry Klein, “Political Battles in the Past, Fresno Needle Exchange Improves Lives.”
Best news reporting: Kerry Klein, “With Water, One Era Ends and Another Begins in East Porterville.”
Best entertainment reporting: Ezra David Romero, “Making Mental Health Cool: A Look Inside Demi Lovato’s Wellness Workshops.”
Best government and political reporting: Jeffrey Hess, “Fresno Residents Raise Concerns about Lead in Their Water.”
Best business and consumer reporting: Ezra David Romero, “Cotton Sheet Conspiracy Brought Down by DNA Testing.”
Best medical and science reporting: Kerry Klein, “Tree Die-offs Won’t Increase Wildfire Risk, Expert Says.”
The details are still a little sketchy, but what is certain is that Jeff Negrete, a longtime fixture in Fresno radio, is no longer the Regional Market President, iHeartMedia for Fresno. His position was eliminated because of corporate changes.
The Fresno radio stations owned by iHeart will now be under the direction of station management in Las Vegas.
“Outside with Greg Aiello” is a new travel series airing on KVPT (Channel 18.1). If you missed the debut at 7 p.m. Tuesday, the show will be repeated at 6:30 p.m. Sunday.
The new series explores America’s national parks and scenic wonders beyond the crowds and popular tourist stops.
Aiello and his brother, Jeff, previously produced “Motion” for the Live Well Network that was seen locally on KFSN (Channel 30.1). The 30-minute show hosted by Aiello looked at places to go and fun things to do once you get there. More than 100 episodes had been filmed and aired.