Cannon Information

Cannon is a CBS detective television series produced by Quinn Martin which aired from March 26, 1971 to March 3, 1976. The primary protagonist is the title character, private detective Frank Cannon, played by William Conrad. He also appeared on two episodes of Barnaby Jones.

Cannon is the first Quinn Martin-produced series to be aired on a network other than ABC. A "revival" television film, The Return of Frank Cannon, was aired on November 1, 1980. In total, there were 124 episodes.


Frank Cannon was a detective with the Los Angeles police department. However, he retired after the deaths of his wife and son in a car accident and later became a private detective. The series begins at the point where Cannon is just beginning this new career (the pilot film picks up after Cannon has just spent 2 1/2 months overseas on an investigation). The cause of death of Cannon's wife and child was not clear through the first four seasons of the show. However, the first episode of the fifth and final season revolves around Cannon's investigation of the deaths, and he finally finds out the reason they were killed.

The noticeably overweight Frank Cannon had expensive tastes, especially in food and cars. (His primary vehicle was a silver '72 Lincoln Continental Mark IV.) Cannon's investigations were mostly for clients in the Southern California area, although on occasion he was called in for investigations much farther away (e.g., New Mexico in the pilot).

Cannon occasionally would get hurt (shot or beaten) and knocked unconscious. He carried a gun for self-defense, usually a snub-nosed .38 Special revolver. He was known to subdue suspects with karate chops, judo holds, and occasionally he would thrust and knock down adversaries with his huge abdomen.

In the first two seasons Cannon was a pipe smoker. In the third season, the pipe was seen occasionally; it was subsequently dropped altogether.

Barnaby Jones

Frank Cannon had his first meeting with Barnaby Jones (Buddy Ebsen), an aging veteran private investigator who had retired and turned over his agency to his son, Hal. However, Hal is killed. With the aid of Cannon and Hal's widow, Betty Jones (Lee Meriwether), they hunt down Hal's killer. Afterward, 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 so that Barnaby Jones could qualify as a spin-off of Cannon, but when Barnaby Jones was sold as a separate series, the script was reworked into the premiere of that show. William Conrad appeared as Cannon in the guise of 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.


In an episode of his Thames Television series, British comedian Benny Hill parodied 1970s American detective shows. In the skit, Hill played several staple characters of the genre: Frank Cannon, Robert Ironside, Theo Kojak, Sam McCloud and, although he was not a part of the genre, Agatha Christies' Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot. A female cast member played the role of Pepper Anderson.

The comedian Franklin Ajaye does a routine where he mentions that it takes Frank Cannon so long to get out of his car 2-3 times a show that there is hardly time for anything else.

In Mystery Science Theater 3000, one of the more absurd inventions displayed by the Mad Scientists was a William Conrad Refrigerator Alert; it sounds off if William Conrad raids your refrigerator.

Impressionist Billy Howard included Cannon as one of the detectives parodied in his novelty hit record "King of the Cops".


In an era decades before cell phone use, Cannon was using a "mobile phone" in his car, which was highly rare at the time. (TV detective "Richard Diamond" had one in the late '50s.) He would begin by asking 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.


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 and in 1974 Telly Savalas won for Kojak.

Guest stars

In the first season, a young Martin Sheen had a recurring role 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 notable guest stars include: a young Willie Aames, Sharon Acker, Lou Antonio, Anne Baxter, Lloyd Bochner, Brooke Bundy, Ahna Capri, Cathy Lee Crosby, William Daniels, Burr DeBenning, former Monkee Micky Dolenz, Andrew Duggan, Shelley Duvall, Dana Elcar, Jason Evers, Mike Farrell, Joan Fontaine, Bert Freed, future Starsky and Hutch star Paul Michael Glaser, Clu Gulager, Peter Haskell, Robert Hays, David Hedison, Kim Hunter, David Janssen, Claudia Jennings, L.Q. Jones, Kate Keenan (Emmy nominee), Dan Kemp, Sondra Locke, Robert Loggia, Tina Louise, Barbara Luna, George Maharis, Robert Mandan, Nora Marlowe, Vera Miles, Donna Mills, Leslie Nielsen (Emmy nominee), Nick Nolte, Sheree North, Lee Paul, John M. Pickard, Stefanie Powers (Emmy nominee), Judson Pratt, Denver Pyle, Dack Rambo, Wayne Rogers, John Rubinstein (Emmy nominee), Tom Skerritt (Emmy nominee), David Soul, Peter Strauss (Emmy nominee), Vic Tayback, Joan Van Ark, a young Vincent Van Patten, John Vernon, Jessica Walter (Emmy nominee), future soap opera star Jess Walton (multiple Daytime Emmy Award winner), Cindy Williams, William Windom, Dana Wynter, and Anthony Zerbe (Emmy Award winner in 1976"?Best Supporting Actor).


Main article: List of Cannon episodes

Broadcast history

Season Time slot
1 (1971-72) Tuesday at 9:30-10:30 pm (EST)
2 (1972-73) Wednesday at 10:00-11:00 pm (EST)
3 (1973-74) Wednesday at 9:00-10:00 pm (EST)
4 (1974-75)
5 (1975-76)

Famous Cannon Quotes

To a client: "OK, sir, I'll take your case and investigate what happened...But just remember, the truth is like rain --- it doesn't care who gets wet."

To an underling of a crime boss: "Number one: I don't talk to pip-squeaks and Number two: I don't work for no $500."

To a suspect: "Fresh air?...When I get through with you, the only fresh air you're gonna get will be in an exercise yard."

To a client: "You have just asked the question that sends me right through the ceiling...I'd like to go one day without someone asking me: 'Can I trust you?'...Well, the answer is: 'No, no, you cannot trust me, why don't you try Lt. Hayes?'"

To a client: "Listen to me...When you withhold information from me, not only do you compromise my ability to investigate -- but you make me appear as a jack-ass."

To the proprietor of the club where a murder victim worked: "Well surely you have his W-2 form?....Or doesn't your establishment worry about things like taxes."

To the proprietor of the club where a murder victim worked (same): "Now tell me about Sam Gerritz...And not how he danced, but how he died."

Pressing a thug's head up against bubbling grease in a fry-o-lator basket: "OK...Now I wanna know who's behind the pressure to get me out of town, hmmm."

To a guy sticking his finger in his face: "Don't point your finger at me!!...I hate it when people point fingers at people!"

To an African-American couple over Cannon's apartment for dinner: "What makes you think a person like me wouldn't enjoy soul food?..Just remember, when it comes to the soul, we do not count the calories."

Over the phone to a crime boss whose thug Cannon beat up after being attacked: "I guess you didn't send one of your better boys...You'll find him on the hood of his car."

To a man ready to commit his 3rd murder: "You seem to have established your standard operating procedure fairly well."

To a sleazy bar-owner: "With what I could dig up on you in two days, I could put you away for 20 years...But lucky for you, I need to catch a murderer...So I'm going to ask you just one more time --- who was the man who ran outta here?"

To a teen-age punk who tells Cannon to mind his own business because his father is Chief-of-Police: "I'm sure he's really proud of you."

To a man about to reach into his pocket for a gun: "I suggest you don't do that, sonny."

In response to a man who answered that a murdered con-man seemed like a pretty nice guy: "Really?...Because "Nice Guy" is a Minority Report."

In response to a police detective who intimated that Cannon's client was a prime suspect because the murder victim owed her money and people get killed for owing money: "Well people get killed playing radios in bathtubs too."

On asked whether he would take a case written into a will (the dead man stipulated that his death was to be investigated before dispersion of his assets): "I'll have to think about it...You see, I've never been retained by a dead man before."

Waking up groggy at sunrise after a nighttime car crash: "Where's my Egg McMuffin?...I want my Egg McMuffin!...Oh, my head"

To a mentally ill client who tells Cannon he feels like he's in a movie doing horrible things to people, but can't stop: "Maybe it's time you walked out on that movie."

To a guy (Dale) about to be beaten up by a loanshark: "I said HOLD IT!...Who's the paper tiger, Dale?...Does he always maul his clients like that?"

To mentally-ill teen-ager with a Charles Manson-like following who was threatening to throw himself off a cliff to commit suicide: "I won't let you do it Larry...No way...So that all the kids in this town can yell 'Martyr' every time the sun goes down."

Approaching vandals who trashed a client's restaurant: "Why, you animals!"

After being knocked down a flight of stairs by a baby carriage, a client standing nearby says that the kid upstairs collect bottles: "Well, maybe he thinks I give refunds."

To a murderer who tries to buy Cannon off with a tempting, 'how about I mention some figures?': "Figures?...How about 10 to 40 for Murder One?"

To a suspect who caught Cannon's arm with a fish-hook (causing Cannon great pain), but then said he was actually only trying to help: "You're about as helpful as a case of the plague!"

In response to an allegation that he was responsible for a senator committing suicide (Cannon had exposed the senator ordering murders): "No....He did it all himself."

Hearing how the client who just left him to die is an embezzler: "With the wisdom of hindsight, that doesn't surprise me."

To a supper club owner: "It's Friday night, there are maybe a dozen people out there, at 2 bucks a head...You must be a financial wizard -- you don't take in enough to wax your dance floors, yet you manage to meet a payroll and contribute large chucks of money to the Eckworth Foundation."

To the Eckworth Foundation president: "Mr. Eckworth...I came to Woodfield 24 hours ago without a care in the world...Since that time, I've been roughed up by the police, threatened by one of Webber's boys, and linked you to a murdered con-man you never met --- not to mention that Ernie Webber contributes large amounts of money to your foundation when he doesn't even take in enough to pay his light bill."

DVD releases

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

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

DVD Name Ep # Release Date
Season 1, Volume 1 13 July 8, 2008
Season 1, Volume 2 13 December 2, 2008
Season 2, Volume 1 12 June 2, 2009
Season 2, Volume 2 12 February 16, 2010
Season 3 24 January 10, 2013

Nielsen ratings

  • 1971-72: #29
  • 1972-73: #14
  • 1973-74: #10
  • 1974-75: #21
  • 1975-76: Not in top 30


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.

  • #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 (pseudonym of Douglas Enefer)
  • #5 I've Got You Covered by Paul Denver (pseudonym of Douglas Enefer)
  • #6 The Falling Blonde by Paul Denver (pseudonym of Douglas Enefer)
  • #7 It's Lonely on the Sidewalk by Paul Denver (pseudonym of Douglas Enefer)
  • #8 Farewell, Little Sister by Douglas Enefer
  • #9 Shoot-Out! by Douglas Enefer

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