Carroll O'Connor had heart surgery in 1989, and instead of resting, he decided to increase his workload
''I wasn't thinking of backing off or taking any rest or vacations.''
One thing doctors always say after a patient receives surgery is to "take it easy." The quote means to lessen your workload, rest and care for yourself. For Carroll O'Connor, taking things easy was the last thing on his mind after undergoing heart bypass surgery, and it's an experience he never went through before.
"No, I certainly haven't," O'Connor said as he shook his head, thinking about the surgery that happened a year before his interview with the South Florida Sun-Sentinel in 1990. The reporter, Rick Du Brow, sat with O'Connor in his Beverly Hills restaurant for the conversation.
So what did the actor do instead of resting? He increased his workload and became a co-executive producer for his series In the Heat of the Night after recovering quickly . In the series, he played a southern police chief.
Though the show ranked in the top ten for O'Connor's first season as executive producer, the actor felt more was needed. "I'm satisfied we turned in a good season in my first season as executive producer with Fred Silverman," he revealed. "But I'm not satisfied with that. I think we can do even better."
Many would ask, "But why not take a break?" It's because being more involved in the production was on his mind heavily. He added, "The only thing that was on my mind after last season, counting in the operation and recuperation, was to get control of this series. And I wasn't thinking of backing off or taking any rest or vacations."
The then 65-year-old ensured the reporter that he felt better than before the surgery. "I had six blockages that they bypassed, and now the arteries are open. It's bound to make you feel better," he said. "I ride the stationary bicycle. When I was down in Georgia, I walked a treadmill."
O'Connor also explained why he chose to add more to his plate. He stated that gaining creative control of the production was crucial if he continued working.
"There was no sense in going on with it and not having control, because I simply would have had the heart attack in spite of the bypasses because the stress of doing things you detest is indescribable. It is for me. I just cannot live with something that I not only don't like but don't respect."