William Conrad once wrote to his look-alike, calling him ''the other Cannon''

The story of H.B. "Ham" Nelson, the "other Cannon"

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Doppelgangers. Doubles. Look-alikes. Whatever you call them, they're out there, and they are unsettling. Even Spock had that evil twin. It seems faces are not like snowflakes, in that some are mirrored elsewhere.

Take, for instance, TV's Frank Cannon, as played by William Conrad. The former LAPD detective had a distinctive look, especially compared to what else was on TV at the time. Nobody on the television landscape could have really been mistaken for Cannon. That was part of Cannon's appeal; he was a believable private investigator, not a Hollywood type. 

However, if he'd traveled to Natchez, Mississippi, William Conrad would've had the chance to step into Star Trek's "Mirror Universe," as one resident was a dead ringer for Cannon. Hamilton B. "Ham" Nelson, Jr. might've made it through life his own man had Cannon not debuted in 1971. As the show grew in popularity, Nelson noticed a strange recurrence in his everyday life. Walking down the street, minding his own business, Ham Nelson was frequently mistaken for a certain small screen gumshoe. 

That's because Hamilton B. Nelson was the spitting image of Frank Cannon. Or maybe he technically looked like William Conrad. The resemblance was so strong that Ham became a local quasi-celebrity in his hometown of Natchez. He told the East Carroll Delta News about the constant mix-ups that happened wherever he went. People would address him as Cannon. They asked for autographs, too. "About the only thing that has not happened is someone coming up to me and asking for my help solving a crime," said Nelson.

But what did the real Cannon think of the likeness? That's what Nelson set out to determine by contacting William Conrad in 1973. Nelson wrote to Conrad at his Los Angeles address and included a picture so Conrad could see the similarity for himself.  "To the other Cannon," William Conrad addressed an autographed photo. He too, was taken aback by the uncanniness. Conrad wrote he was "quite amused and startled by the amazing resemblance as shown in the pictures." TV's Cannon also noted that he wasn't at all surprised at the number of fans who asked Nelson for his signature.

The best detail of the whole ordeal, though, was just how big a fan Ham Nelson was of the Cannon television series. Not only did he look like the guy, Ham never missed a single episode of the Quinn Martin-produced detective series.

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22 Comments

SteveMcnary 10 months ago
I remember a 2 part episode of Cannon that guest starred David Janssen. William Conrad was the narrator for the show The Fugitive which starred Janssen as The Fugitive Dr. Richard Kimble.
rlb2k1jr SteveMcnary 1 month ago
“Frank, Frank Frank Frank Frank…”
rockaria 10 months ago
I was hoping to see side-by-side pictures of the two Cannons.
JamesB rockaria 10 months ago
Try https://weigel-comments.s3.us-east-1.amazonaws.com/rJw35-1684944498-Cannon%201973-Enhanced-Colorized.jpg
MichaelGreene 10 months ago
I wonder if Hamilton B Nelson, Jr. could have put being a WWII fighter pilot on his resume. William Conrad did. Also, I suspect Nelson did not have Conrad's distinctive voice, honed by years as a radio actor...the story doesn't mention if the two ever met in person...I suspect their voices would have made them easy tp pick out.
AgingDisgracefully 10 months ago
I again ask in the name of SCIENCE.
How were his bird-legs able to support that mega-gut?
JohnnyBoyohBoy 10 months ago
I think some of us were disappointed that there wasn't a photo of Mr. Nelson. I searched the internet and couldn't believe that I came up with nothing. So I did a newspaper archive dive and finally found one from a 1973 article! I have to admit, he's maybe the best doppelganger I've ever seen.
AmyfromMS 11 months ago
When I was a child, Ham Nelson lived about a mile from me. We always called him The other Cannon. He truly looked exactly like him!
Pacificsun 11 months ago
I've read where there are supposedly 9 look a-likes of all of us among the billions of humans within our lifetime, around the world.


At first I discounted it as an exaggeration, until two people mistook myself. And I've seen two of people I've known, as well.
LoveMETV22 Pacificsun 11 months ago
" I've read where there are supposedly 9 look a-likes of all of us among the billions of humans."
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
That would give us a shared commonality with our furry friend the cat,🐈🐈🐈🐈🐈🐈🐈🐈🐈.
Of course we can't share those lives, but still, fun to ponder.
Adanor 11 months ago
Must have been unnerving to turn on the TV and see "yourself" acting.
Andybandit 11 months ago
I liked when he was in Jake and the Fat man with Joe Penny. That show should be on GeTv, MeTv, or cozi
Wiseguy70005 Andybandit 10 months ago
For some reason, Jake and the Fatman is ignored while its parent series (Matlock) and offspring series (Diagnosis Murder) are often shown.
MrsPhilHarris 11 months ago
A picture of Ham Nelson would have been nice.
KJExpress MrsPhilHarris 11 months ago
Exactly what I was thinking!
No pictures?
Harrumph!
MrsPhilHarris KJExpress 11 months ago
Love the avatar!
KJExpress MrsPhilHarris 11 months ago
Thanks! I'm hiding. Actually, all our leaves have come out within the last week or so and I thought it was appropriate. 😊🌳
texasluva 11 months ago
William Conrad is not one to have a look-alike. Not exactally the prototype average human being or even in the ballpark. Good story which many have never noticed or knew such a person existed.
LoveMETV22 texasluva 11 months ago
As there is a " Hamilton B. "Ham" Nelson, Jr.. I wonder if the Sr. is a look-alike as well?
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