John Donovan Cannon was born April 24, 1922 in Idaho.
Cannon graduated from high school in 1940 and enrolled at the Academy of Dramatic Arts until World War II, when early in 1942 he signed up for the army.
After the war, Cannon moved to New York city where he completed his training in acting, performing both on and off-Broadway with a variety of small roles.
Then in 1958, Cannon first appeared on television in The Phil Silvers Show with a small role as poker-hustling Master Sgt. Sherman.
Soon Cannon had found his niche as a frequent tough persona guest star on numerous television shows.
In 1963, Cannon played Lloyd Chandler, the witness to the original crime in the final episode of the television series The Fugitive.
In the second season of Twelve O’Clock High (1965–1966) he played Brig. Gen. Dave Creighton, who worked for Allied intelligence and helped to foil a plot by Nazi saboteurs in the 34th episode of the series, “RX For A Sick Bird”.
Cannon also had memorable roles in two films. In the 1967 film Cool Hand Luke, Cannon played road gang convict “Society Red. And in the 1970 film Cotton Comes to Harlem, Cannon played the gangster Calhoun.
By 1971, Cannon played the recurring role of lawman Harry Briscoe in the western comedy series Alias Smith and Jones.
Cannon will most fondly be remembered for his popular portrayal of the perpetually exasperated, cigar-chewing NYPD Chief of Detectives Peter Clifford in the 1970-1977 television series McCloud with Dennis Weaver.
Cannon wore a toupee in most of his later roles. The exception was the Remington Steele episode “Steele in the News” (March 4, 1983), in which Cannon played a TV news anchor who only wore his toupee while broadcasting.
Cannon also played General Hampton on Call to Glory (1984) and had roles in films like Lawman and Raise the Titanic.
During his acting career, Cannon guest starred in many television series over the years, including Wagon Train, The Untouchables, East Side/West Side, Combat!, and Stoney Burke.
Later on, Cannon was cast in several episodes of CBS’s Murder, She Wrote, starring Angela Lansbury.
His last television acting appearance was on NBC’s Law & Order in 1991.
J.D. Cannon died May 20, 2005 at the age of 83.
Now WE know em