Cannon (TV series)

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Cannon Title Screen.jpg
Developed byEdward Hume
StarringWilliam Conrad
Theme music composerJohn Parker
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons5
No. of episodes122 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s)Quinn Martin
Running time60 minutes
Production company(s)QM Productions
CBS Productions
DistributorViacom Enterprises
CBS Television Distribution
Original networkCBS
Original releaseSeptember 14, 1971 –
March 3, 1976
Related showsBarnaby Jones

Cannon is an American detective television series produced by Quinn Martin that aired from 1971 to 1976. William Conrad played the title character, private detective Frank Cannon. The series was the first Quinn Martin production to run on a network other than ABC.

Cannon was portrayed in the series as a veteran of the Korean War and a former member of the Los Angeles Police Department. He was street smart but appeared to have an unusually high level of education outside the law enforcement field. Besides his obvious familiarity with several languages, he showed extensive knowledge of such diverse subjects as science, art and history. Cannon was a widower, having lost his wife and son in a bomb attack while he was on the police force.

Conrad was an overweight actor, and the series, especially in its early episodes, made frequent mention of Cannon's size and weight. Other characters would often remark critically about this, while he himself would joke self-deprecatingly about his girth and great love of food. In fact, Cannon was a gourmet cook who enjoyed preparing food for his friends. Despite his large size, he was a man of action, often engaging successfully in fistfights and shoot-outs with bad guys.

In total, there were 122 episodes, plus the series' two-hour pilot and a 1980 "revival" television film, The Return of Frank Cannon. The plots, as in other detective series, revolved around Cannon solving crimes for a variety of clients. In a number of early episodes, he was hired by insurance companies to investigate losses. Other episodes involved him working for people from his past. In some cases, he was forced into action to clear himself of falsified charges.[1]


Conrad as Frank Cannon.

Series star William Conrad was nominated for an Emmy Award in both 1973 and 1974 (Best Lead Actor in a Drama Series), but Richard Thomas won for The Waltons in 1973 and in 1974 Telly Savalas won for Kojak.

Guest stars[edit]

In the first season, Martin Sheen appeared twice as ex-policeman Jerry Warton, but the character did not extend beyond the first year—in fact, in the third season, Sheen guest-starred as a lawyer who murdered Cannon's client.

Other guest stars included Willie Aames, Sharon Acker, Claude Akins, Frank Aletter, Lou Antonio, Anne Baxter, Whitney Blake, Whit Bissell, Lloyd Bochner, Sorrell Booke, Antoinette Bower, Brooke Bundy, Ahna Capri, Johnny Cash, Cathy Lee Crosby, William Daniels, Burr DeBenning, Severn Darden, Micky Dolenz, Dennis Dugan, Andrew Duggan, Shelley Duvall, Dana Elcar, Jason Evers, Mike Farrell, Joan Fontaine, Bert Freed, Leif Garrett, Paul Michael Glaser, David Soul, Dabbs Greer, Clu Gulager, Peter Haskell, Mark Hamill, Robert Hays, David Hedison, Rodolfo Hoyos Jr., Kim Hunter, David Janssen, Claudia Jennings, L. Q. Jones, Kate Keenan, Dan Kemp, Tom Kennedy, Sondra Locke, Robert Loggia, Tina Louise, Barbara Luna, George Maharis, Robert Mandan, Nora Marlowe, Ralph Meeker, Vera Miles, Donna Mills, Leslie Nielsen, Nick Nolte, Sheree North, Lee Paul, Steve Pendleton, Nehemiah Persoff, John M. Pickard, Stefanie Powers, Judson Pratt, Denver Pyle, Eldon Quick, Dack Rambo, Wayne Rogers, John Rubinstein, Roy Scheider, Tom Skerritt, Charlotte Stewart, Peter Strauss, Vic Tayback, Malachi Throne, Ronne Troup, Joan Van Ark, Vincent Van Patten, John Vernon, Jessica Walter, Jess Walton, Cindy Williams, William Windom, Dana Wynter, and Anthony Zerbe.



In an era before cell phone use, Cannon was using a "mobile phone" in his car, which was very rare at the time. Cannon would first ask the mobile operator to dial a call for him. Phones of this type were precursors to modern cell phones. The phone prop itself, in his car, was a Motorola brand MTS mobile phone.


Episode list[edit]

SeasonEpisodesOriginally airedRankRatingTied with
First airedLast aired
Pilot1March 26, 1971 (1971-03-26)N/AN/AN/A
124September 14, 1971 (1971-09-14)March 14, 1972 (1972-03-14)2819.8Room 222
224September 13, 1972 (1972-09-13)March 21, 1973 (1973-03-21)1422.4N/A
325September 12, 1973 (1973-09-12)March 20, 1974 (1974-03-20)923.1The Mary Tyler Moore Show
424September 11, 1974 (1974-09-11)April 2, 1975 (1975-04-02)2021.6Mannix
525September 10, 1975 (1975-09-10)March 3, 1976 (1976-03-03)N/AN/AN/A
TV-movie1November 1, 1980 (1980-11-01)N/AN/AN/A

Connections to Barnaby Jones[edit]

Frank Cannon met Barnaby Jones (Buddy Ebsen), an aging veteran private investigator who had retired and turned over his agency to his son, Hal, when Hal is killed. With the aid of Cannon and Hal's widow, Betty Jones (Lee Meriwether), he hunts down Hal's killer. Afterwards, Jones decides to come out of retirement. The premiere episode of Barnaby Jones, "Requiem for a Son" was planned as a second-season Cannon episode, but when Barnaby Jones was sold as a separate series the script was reworked into the premiere of that series. William Conrad appeared as a special guest star.

There was a second "crossover" between the series. The first part of the two-part episode, "The Deadly Conspiracy", was aired as the second episode of the fifth season of Cannon on September 17, 1975; the second part aired two nights later as the fourth-season premiere of Barnaby Jones.

LGBT characters[edit]

Notably, in its final season, Cannon featured LGBT characters in two episodes, "Point after Death"[2][failed verification] and "Bloodlines".[3][failed verification]

Home media[edit]

CBS DVD (distributed by Paramount) has released the first two seasons of Cannon on DVD in Region 1. Season 3 was released on January 10, 2013, via's CreateSpace program. This is a manufacture-on-demand (MOD) release, available exclusively through[4]

On May 4, 2015, it was announced that Visual Entertainment had acquired the rights to the series in Region 1.[5] They subsequently released Cannon - The Complete Collection on September 2, 2015.

On March 18, 2016, VEI re-released the first season on DVD and on April 1, 2016, they re-released the second season.[6]

In Region 4, Shock Entertainment has released the first two seasons on DVD in Australia.

DVD name Ep no. Release date
Season 1, Volume 1 13 July 8, 2008
Season 1, Volume 2 13 December 2, 2008
Season 1 24 March 18, 2016
Season 2, Volume 1 12 June 2, 2009
Season 2, Volume 2 12 February 16, 2010
Season 2 24 April 1, 2016
Season 3 24 January 10, 2013
Season 4 24 N/A
Season 5 25 N/A
The Complete Series 122 September 2, 2015

Awards and nominations[edit]

Cannon received three Emmy Award nominations, for Outstanding Drama Series in 1973 and for William Conrad as Lead Actor in a Drama Series in 1973 and 1974.[7]

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association nominated Cannon for three Golden Globe Awards, for Best Television Series - Drama in 1974 and for William Conrad in 1972 and 1973 as Best Actor in a Drama Television Series.[8]

In other media[edit]


A series of nine tie-in novels were published in the 1970s by Lancer/Magnum in the United States and Triphammer/Corgi in the United Kingdom.[9]

  1. Murder by Gemini by Richard Gallagher
  2. The Stewardess Strangler by Richard Gallagher
  3. The Golden Bullet by Paul Denver (pseudonym of Douglas Enefer)
  4. The Deadly Chance by Paul Denver
  5. I've Got You Covered by Paul Denver
  6. The Falling Blonde by Paul Denver
  7. It's Lonely on the Sidewalk by Paul Denver
  8. Farewell, Little Sister by Douglas Enefer
  9. Shoot-Out! by Douglas Enefer


In an episode of his Thames Television series, British comedian Benny Hill parodied 1970s American detective series. In the skit, Hill played several staple characters of the genre: Frank Cannon, Robert Ironside, Theo Kojak, Sam McCloud (ironically, all bar the latter were airing on BBC1 at the time rather than on Hill's home of ITV) and, although he was not a part of the genre, Agatha Christie's Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot. Cast member Jenny Lee-Wright played the role of Pepper Anderson.


  1. ^ "Cannon (TV Series 1971-1976) - IMDb". Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Cannon DVD news: Street Date for Cannon - Season 3 -". Archived from the original on March 31, 2016. Retrieved May 2, 2016.
  5. ^ "Cannon DVD news: DVD Plans for Cannon -". Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved May 2, 2016.
  6. ^ "Cannon DVD news: Re-Release for Season 1 and Season 2 -". Archived from the original on April 19, 2016. Retrieved May 2, 2016.
  7. ^ "Nominations Search". Television Academy. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  8. ^ "Cannon". Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  9. ^ "Cannon Novel Covers". Not The Baseball Pitcher. Retrieved 2 May 2016.

External links[edit]