Here's what you didn't know about Cannon's ''Gunsmoke'' connection
You could say William Conrad and Gunsmoke were "canonically" linked!
From 1971 to 1976, William Conrad was TV's Cannon. As the title detective, Conrad used street smarts to solve crimes across 122 episodes. The show's five seasons, produced by Quinn Martin, were among Conrad's most high-profile appearances. However, it wasn't the first time that William Conrad served justice over the airwaves.
We all know what Marshal Matt Dillon looks like. He's James Arness, after all, how could you miss him? The guy is 6'7"! But before Matt Dillon had a face, he was just a voice. Between the years of 1952 and 1961, Gunsmoke was a popular radio program broadcast by CBS. The audio-only Western preceded its television counterpart by three years. While he bore little resemblance to the Marshal Dillon audiences would later identify on TV, it was William Conrad who first performed the lawman role.
After ten consecutive years on the air, radio's Gunsmoke came to an end, but William Conrad had no regrets, according to a 1962 interview with the Elmira Advertiser.
"It's not every day you get a job that pays you $1,000 a week for 10 years for just working three hours every Saturday afternoon!"
While the radio program was certainly successful, the televised version of Gunsmoke overshadowed its predecessor, just as Arness towered above Conrad. While the actor who provided Marshal Matt Dillon's radio voice was a natural choice for the TV version, Conrad just didn't stack up.
"I just wasn't tall enough for the TV image of Matt, even with built-up western boots," said Conrad.
"But everything has worked out for the best. Otherwise, I might never have discovered that directing gives me a full joy of satisfaction that acting never did. I can direct seven days and nights a week and feel like I'm on a vacation. Acting never affected me this way."
Conrad steadily built a strong directorial résumé, helming episodes of The Rifleman, Route 66, and Have Gun, Will Travel.
This is where the plot thickens.
William Conrad, the original voice of Marshal Matt Dillon, would eventually direct not just one but TWO episodes of Gunsmoke!
He was able to revisit the franchise when he directed the season 8 episode "Panacea Sykes" in 1963, and again with season 16's "Captain Sligo."