The CANNON series was more reliant on stories than gimmicks and it was William Conrad's show. No sidekicks, no best buddies, no revolving-door love interests, no down-at-heel stuff for him; he was good value, and so was the series. This commanding, heavy-set actor, producer and director of radio, film and TV since the 1940s, was, a hefty and quietly methodical detective--and an impressively smooth ladies man. To younger viewers, Conrad may always be the rough-edged, cantankerous, cigar-smoking district attorney (and, after retirement and a hiatus, an unshaven P.I. in Hawaii) on "Jake and the Fatman". However, there was a lot more to this big man's long showbiz career.
This is a well-remembered series; its mature star was twice as powerful as an actor and a character because he was not looking for romantic one-nighters everywhere, and because of the show's sheer narrative quality. The best of all private eye shows in TV history, by miles. "Cannon" was developed by Arthur Hume for Quinn Martin Productions, the same company whose leadership gave us also "The Untouchables" and "Barnaby Jones".
Frank Cannon, retired ace police detective, carried a lot of weight. He solved cases, worked with aid from and occasionally worked for his old police pals, and used the money he earned so he could buy and eat gourmet food and cook it for his friends in a posh Sunset Strip tower apartment This very-well-made and intelligently scripted series was not devoid of humor either; but William Conrad as "Cannon" was a considerable presence both as actor and large human being.
William Conrad (1920-1994) had built a long career around his low, powerful voice, and was best-known for his radio work as the original 'Matt Dillon' in the long-running series, "Gunsmoke" (the role James Arness would inherit, when the series moved to television). A successful character actor in many films of the forties and fifties (including a flashy role as Kasar, one of John Wayne's brothers, in the infamous THE CONQUEROR), the bulk of Conrad's TV work, prior to "Cannon", was as an off-screen narrator ("Rocky and Bullwinkle", "The Fugitive", "The Invaders"). "Cannon" was created specifically for Conrad, not only acknowledging his physical stature, but his skills as a chef, his occasionally prickly temperament, and his child-like joy of solving puzzles. Living well in a beautiful balconied apartment, he still spent most of his time behind the wheel of his sedan, en route to another case requiring his special skills.
Jake and the Fatman
was a television crime drama starring William Conrad as prosecutor
Jason Lochinvar "Fatman" McCabe and Joe Penny as investigator Jake
Styles. The series ran on CBS for five seasons from 1987 to 1992, but
despite its 100-plus episodes has never been picked up for syndication
in the US. Diagnosis: Murder is a spin-off of this series.
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