To become a top telly private eye in the 1970s it was almost essential to have a disability. Longstreet was blind, Ironside was a paraplegic and Frank Cannon was - well, plain obese.
That may not seem too much of a disability, but it didn't take the villian of each episode too long to work out that when confronted by the heavyweight, middle-aged, balding PI, all they had to do was...run! That's why Cannon always needed to be one step (or several yards in a chase) ahead of his suspects. And for his services, clients would pay top dollar which allowed Frank to indulge in his personal luxuries such as food, expensive cars and food.
Cannon was created by Quinn Martin for the actor William Conrad who up until then was better known for his voice than his face. In the 1950s he was Matt Dillon in the radio version of Gunsmoke but physically unsuited to the part when the series transferred to television. In the 1960s his was the voice heard at the beginning and end of each episode of The Fugitive.
The series was developed from a 100-minute TV movie and Cannon frequently crossed over to appear on Barnaby Jones, another QM Production which ran concurrently with Cannon on CBS between January 1973 and the latter's cancellation. Conrad returned to our TV screen again in Jake and the Fatman - he didn't play the part of Jake! He returned once more as the rotund PI in the aptly titled The Return of Frank Cannon.
Some distinguished guests appeared in Cannon - among them Roy Schneider, Martin Sheen, David Janssen, Jay Silverheels (Tonto in The Lone Ranger) and Leslie Nielsen.
Published on December 2nd, 2018. Written by Laurence Marcus for Television Heaven.