The Cannonball TV show was a 30 minute Canadian adventure/drama series that aired on CBC and in syndication in the U.S. It was about the lives of truckers Mike Malone and Jerry Austin as they moved freight throughout Canada and the United States.
Paul Birch .... "Cannonball" Mike Malone
William Campbell .... Jerry Austin
Beth Lockerbie .... Mary Malone
Howard Milsom .... Harry Butler
Beth Morris .... Ginny Malone
Steven Barringer .... Butch Malone
Cannonball Theme Song
By: "Merle Haggard"
Barrelin' down the highway, Wheelin' right along.
Hear the tires hummin', Hummin' out a song.
The rumble of the diesel, The shiftin' of the gears.
The rhythm when he's rollin', It's music to his ears.
Any kind of weather, Any time of day.
When the rig is ready, He'll be on his way.
He'll carry any cargo, He'll go anywhere.
Name the destination, And brother he'll be there.
The very next season after Cannonball aired, another series, "Route 66" ran for four seasons on CBS. It was about two young, hip guys who rode around the country in Corvette convertible helping needy people. From 160-1964 another series, "Movin' On" also featured two guys roaming the highways in a semi hauling freight and rescuing people.
Robert Maxwell and Rudy E. Abel produced Cannonball and also co-produced "National Velvet" and "Father of the Bride".
Ironically, although Cannonball was a Canadian production, the two stars on the series were both U.S. citizens.
William Campbell's first wife was Judith Campbell Exner who was infamous as a mistress of President John F. Kennedy and Mafia Don Sam Biancana. Rumor has it that knowledge of Judith's affairs was used by F.B.I. Chief Herbert Hoover as a way to resist political pressure from President Kennedy and his brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy! On a brighter note, Robert Maxwell was the first actor who every sang with Elvis Presley in a movie ("Love Me Tender").
Paul Birch was the "Marlboro Man" in TV commercials and is often blamed today for convincing millions of young men that they had to smoke cigarettes if they wanted to be a man. To be fair to Birch, none of us knew the full impact of the dangers of smoking in that day. Paul was one of the few actors to portray both top U.S. Civil War Generals, Robert E. Lee and Ulysees S. Grant. He played Grant many times on stage and on TV due to an amazing resemblance to the General when he wore a beard. His TV appearances as Grant were on episodes of "Black Saddle" and "Wagon Train".
In the mode of a true friend the older of the two truck drivers, Mike Malone pretended to have tunnel vision in the final episode of the series so that the youger partner, Jerry Austin could take advantage of an opportunity to return to college. Malone knew that Austin would pass up the opportunity rather than leave his partner so Malone faked his vision problem and lost his truck driver's license.
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