Joe Shannon (Shannon)

Created by…

In the 1961–62 season, George Nader appeared as stand-up insurance investigator JOE SHANNON in the syndicated crime drama Shannon.

Joe worked for the Los Angeles branch of the Transport Bonding and Surety Company, which had its headquartered in Denver, Colorado. Joe’s job was to protect the company’s clients (apparently mostly trucking companies) from hijacking, sabotage, theft and pilferage, and to investigate if/when things go wrong, although he worked other types of cases as well, assigned to him by Transport’s owner and operator, Bill Cochran (played by Regis Toomey). Cochran was good enough, as far as bosses go, but still had to answer to stockholders, which occasional cause friction between him and Joe.

It was a solid, if not spectacular show, barely remembered now at all — except for the snazzy 1961 Buick Special that Joe drove, tricked up with just about every gadget they could think of: a mobile phone (a real rarity at the time), a microphone and tape recorder that popped out of the dash — just perfect for dictating reports to Bill, a movie camera that with the touch of a secret button rose from the front middle seat, another camera mounted near the driver’s outside rear view mirror, a spotlight, and several other hidden compartments, including one that housed a gun.

All that was missing was a sleeping bag and a mini-kitchen, and Joe could have lived in his car — which would have fit right in with the show’s setting in car-crazy Los Angeles, where it was not only set and filmed, offering some great early sixties location shots.

Joe’s low-key, plugged-in ways (he also had a Dick Tract-type tiny tape recorder he wore on his wrist like a watch) and his frequent calls to the office to report his progress or request assistance or more information gave the show a nice procedural vibe. Competent and by the book, there was something reassuring in his professionalism.

Unfortunately, the writing itself could be weak, despite the presence of writers as W.T. Ballard and Gene Rodenberry. The two episodes I’ve tracked down on YouTube both started with Joe in his Buick, dictating a report while discreetly tailing one of the company’s insured trucks, riding shotgun from a discreet distance, and in both cases to no avail — the truck is waylaid anyway (in one case, Joe’s forced off the road, and in the other, he feels compelled to stop to help a female  motorist in distress). I’m assuming the other 34 shows don’t also begin the same way, but it wasn’t only the scripts — the direction simply wasn’t strong enough either, particularly for a half-hour show. With only 30 minutes, every bit of action or dialogue has to be tight and right, but sadly Shannon was no Peter Gunn.

Still, it had its moments. The interplay between Nader and Toomey was good, and as I said, the procedural aspect was fun to follow. But was was scrapped after one season.

For tall, athletic George Nader, it was just another short-lived show in a long career of mostly B-films  and short-lived TV shows.  He started his career as a beefcake model in the fifties, posing for thousands of photos, and his first starring role was in the low-budget 1953 3-D sci-fi film Robot Monster, which some consider one of the worst films ever made. Of more interest, perhaps, was his personal life. He was gay and remained discreetly in the closet throughout his his acting career, although he and his life partner Mark Miller quietly lived together for over fifty-five years, and they counted Rock Hudson as one of their closest friends (Miller, in fact, worked as Hudson’s secretary for several years). A cenotaph honoring Nader, Miller and Hudson stands in Cathedral City’s Forest Lawn Cemetery.


    (1961-62, syndicated)
    36 30-minute episodes
    Black & white
    Premiere: September 26, 1961
    Last episode: June 12, 1962
    Created by…
    Writers: Todhunter Ballard, Gene Rodenberry, David Chandler, George Fass, Gertrude Fass, Seymour Friedman, Norman S. Hall, John Hawkins, Ward Hawkins, Don Ingalls, Jack Jacobs, Louis Lantz, Jesse Lasky Jr.
    Directors: Fred Jackman, Jr., R. Robert Rosenbaum, Fred Sackman, Philip Tannura
    Program consultant: John Hawkins
    Produced by Jerry Briskin
    Production company: Screen Gems
    Starring George Nader as JOE SHANNON
    With Regis Toomey as Bill Cochran
    Guest stars: Chris Alcaide , Francis De Sales, Robert Duvall, DeForest Kelley, Ann McCrea, Lee Meriwether

    • “Zendee Report”
    • “The Embezzler’s Daughter”
    • “The King Leal Report”
    • “Ironclad Alibi”
    • “Decoy”
    • “Porcelain Egg”
    • “The Jade Tortoise”
    • “The Pickup”
    • “Desert Crossroads”
    • “The Big Fish”
    • “Lady On The Rocks”
    • “Cold Trail”
    • “Duke Of The Valley”
    • “The Hyatt Fund”
    • “The Professional Widower”
    • “Legacy In G”
    • “Fallers”
    • “The Dolphin and the Mermaid”
    • “Bonds of Friendship”
    • “Man From Yesterday”
    • “Tarnish on the Badge”
    • “The Jungle Kid”
    • “The Deadly Homecoming”
    • “Saints And Sinners”
    • “License to Steal”
    • “The Patriarch”
    • “The Sports Car Story”
    • “Florentine Prince”
    • “The Gideon Leap”
    • “Play With Fire”
    • “Never Help A Lady”
    • “Delayed Delivery”
    • “Uneasy Debt”
    • “Medal”
    • “End Of The Line”
    • “Conspiracy Of Silence”


Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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