LA private eye Joe Mannix, played by Mike Connors, wasn’t your typical television detective. He wears budget suits and doesn’t care what people thought of him. He lives by a set of rules that he seldom if ever flicker from.
For eight seasons and nearly 200 Episodes, Joe Mannix was the quintessential television private investigator. While there are ‘cooler’ PIs – Peter Gunn, Jim Rockford, Thomas Magnum come to mind – nobody can take a beating and get right back up again like our man, Mannix. Plus, the series had one killer theme song- which always helps.
Created by Richard Levinson and William Link of “Columbo” fame and developed by Mission Impossible’s Bruce Geller, Mannix was as solid of a show as it was formulaic. While it’s a series that suffers from a danger that plagues most episodic television dramas, people still love it. And we’re willing to ber that there are quite a few things about the series that even now, more than fifty years after it’s debut, you probably don’t know about.
Join Facts Verse as we take a closer look at some seriously HUGE details you missed in Mannix. So, grab a snack and put on your freshest plaid suit because this is one video that you can’t miss.
The I Love Lucy Connection
The late-great Lucille Ball helped bring Joe Mannix into existence. Lucy and Desi Arnaz’s company Desilu productions produce the series. Since it goes on to air for eight seasons, it holds the honor of being the longest-running Desilu drama series. The second longest, Mission: Impossible, ran for seven seasons, while the third longest, The Untouchables, ran for just four.
Mike Connors lands his iconic role on Mannix after Ball’s second husband at the time that Mannix is in development. Gary Morton, notices his 1937 Bentley Convertible outside his office. The two struck up a conversation and talks some fresh blood to take the lead on his new detective series. Realizing that Connors would fit the bill perfectly, he offered him the job.
After the show’s first season fails to draw details that CBS is hoping for and they’re considering giving it up. Ball personally fight the Mannix to be have another season. After agreeing to make a few tweaks to the plot, the series is save from cancellation.
Originally, Joe Mannix worked for a somewhat Orwellian surveillance company called Interact which used computers to help crack cases. In later seasons, he worked as a solo private eye using his people skills and fists to solve cases. With those changes implemented, season 2 saw Mannix’s ratings improve dramatically. In no time, it had managed to enter into the top 10 shows on the air.
It Was The Last Desilu Show
Mannix is the very last series to be produces by Desilu Productions. Lucille Ball sold Desilu in 1967 to Gulf+Western. After that sale, the studio is rename Paramount Television. At the time, series that Desilu is in production of Star Trek, The Lucy Show, Mission:Impossible, and of course, Mannix.
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It Was Originally Going To Have Another Title
Remember how we mentioned that Mannix initially worked for that high-tech company, Interact? Well, that’s actually what the series is originally intendsd to be name as well. It’s a good thing that the series give the name that we all know it by today, because Ball likely will not be able to convince the network brass to keep the show afloat for another season if its names name is after the 1984-inspired LA-based surveillance company. Can you really imagine a show called Interact becoming the cultural icon that Mannix became? We can’t.
Gail Fisher Made History
Playing secretary Peggy Fair on Mannix from 1968 to 1975, Gail Fisher was one of the first African-American women to have a regular role on a TV series. Fisher ended up winning two Golden Globes and and Emmy Award for her role. She was also the first African-American woman to ever win a Golden Globe.
Mannix’s Army Buddies Were Always Causing Problems
Pretty much every television show from the 1960s eventually employed this same old plot device. The show’s lead’s old buddies would show up out of the blue and find a way to raise hell. It’s a television trope as old as time itself.
On Bonanza, it is Ben Cartwright’s friends who gallop into the Pondersoa to get the family mix up in trouble. Then on Star Trek it is Captain Kirk’s brother who make the appearance just long enough to kill himself and trigger a plot that will be explors in a single episode.
On Mannix, it was Joe’s old Korean War pals who showed up fairly regularly and stirred up trouble. They either got themselves in some kind of trouble and needed his help or had it out to kill the guy.
Similarly, in one 1975 episode, Bill Bixby, who would later play the human form of The Incredible Hulk, played one of Mannix’s fishing buddies, Tony Elliott. Bixby directs that episode which is the ‘The Empty Tower’ as well as three others from the series final season.
Mike Brady Was An LAPD Cop
The father-figure of TV’s most famed blended family, Mike Brady, played by Robert Reed, had a real-life side gig when he wasn’t acting working for the LAPD as a police officer. On Mannix, he gives a recurring role from 1969 to 1975 as Lieutenant Adam Tobias.
The Mannix Crossovers
Desilu show’s often featured famous guest stars. In 1971, Mike Connors appears on an episode of Here’s Lucy titled ‘Lucy and Mannix Are Held Hostage’. A couple decades later, Connors would reprise his role as Mannix on a 1997 episode of Diagnosis Murder. That episode ‘Hard-Boiled Murder’ actually served as a sequel to the 1973 Mannix episode ‘Little Lost Girl’.
Joe Could Take A Beating
Throughout the series, Mannix found himself repeatedly stabbed, shot, beaten, ran off the road, and assaulted in a great deal of other inventive ways. In total, he is shot almost 20 times and knock out at 50. While filming the series pilot episode, Mike Connors actually dislocated his shoulder and broke his hand.
Buffalo Springfield Made A Guest Appearance
While it seems like an unlikely pairing, Neil Young and the other band members of Canadian-American classic rock outfit Buffalo Springfield made a cameo appearance on an episode of Mannix titled ‘Warning: Live Blueberries” in 1967. Young and company can be heard playing the song ‘Bluebird’ in that episode.
Other stars that made appearances on Mannix include John Denver, Neil Diamond, Hugh Beaumont, Eve Plumb, Tom Selleck, William Shatner, and Adam West – although the full list is ridiculously long.
Mike Connors Sued Paramount And CBS Over Royalties
In May of 2011, shortly before the series was re-released on DVD, Connors filed a suit with the LA Superior Court claiming that CBS Television Studios and Paramount never paid paid him the royalties that he was promised. The case settle out of court later that year.
Johnny Carson Inadvertently Got Mannix Canceled
When Joe Mannix wrapped up it’s eighth season, it was still in the top 20 in the Nielsen Ratings. Plans had been made for a ninth season, but those never ended up panning out. Connors had been told at a CBS network party a week before the network was going to release their 1975 fall schedule that the show was all-but-guaranteed to be picked up. Obviously, however, that didn’t end up happening.
Connors was left without a job because of reasons entirely out of his control. Rival network ABC was struggling with their late-night viewership. NBC had their immensely talk show The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson at 11:30, and CBS was doing well with The CBS Late Movie.
Everything that ABC tried to do to dial-up their late-night ratings didn’t seem to be helping. The Dick Cavett Show flopped, so then they came up with ABC’s Wide World Of Entertainment – a programming block that included everything from live rock concerts to comedy news shows to mystery films, but that didn’t work either.
So in 1975, ABC decided to essentially give up and just air re-runs. At that point, they didn’t have any better ideas. They even started airing hit shows from other networks, including NBCs Police Woman, and since Paramount took control of Mannix after Desilu changed hands, they planned on airing episodes of that as well. Paramount saw no problem with letting ABC air a few episodes of their show, but apparently, no one informed CBS about their decision.
Mannix Re-Run to another network
When CBS found out that Mannix was heading over to another network to air as re-runs, the network execs turned on the show. They figured that if their hit series was re-running on another network, it would cheapen the appeal of having new episodes on theirs. So, in a rather hastily made decision, they chose to scrap the show entirely.
Mannix has remained in syndication ever since it wrapped up it’s initial 8 season run, although CBS Television Distribution only offers a package of 130 episodes to local stations.
The first and eight seasons are not offered with that package, neither are several episodes from the seventh season. If you want to binge-watch the entire series, you’ll either have to buy the complete Mannix series box set on DVD, which came out in 2017, or wait for it to eventually come to a streaming service like Paramount+. As of right now, however, there is no place to stream or rent the series online.
What are some of your favorite episodes of Mannix? And how do you think Joe Mannix stacks up against other iconic television private investigators like Thomas Magnum and Perry mason? Let us know in the comments.
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