Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Bob Crane on 'The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson' — July 2, 1969

If you loved The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, you have Bob Crane to thank for some of it. 

During his last several years at KNX-CBS Radio, Bob Crane devoted an hour of his show to interviewing celebrities. These interviews were a dynamic hit with listeners and celebrities alike, and television producers took notice. So they started pestering Bob to transition from being a radio talk show host to a television talk show host.

Bob was inundated with offers to host his own television talk show, including to replace Jack Paar as host of The Tonight Show. But Bob didn't want to host a TV talk show. He wanted to act. His answer to every single offer of this kind was the same: No. 

Bob Crane's refusal to accept the offer to host The Tonight Show left the door wide open for Johnny Carson, who went on to great fame as the Kind of Late Night.

However, Bob did agree to fill in as a substitute guest host on several television talk shows, and that included The Tonight Show, where he was also a featured guest. Over the years, we had never been able to find any archival footage of Bob's appearances on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, either as Carson's fill-in host or as a guest. And believe me, we've looked! I was happily surprised and thankful when a friend with classic television archive connections sent me a note asking if I wanted the audio version of Bob Crane's July 2, 1969, Tonight Show appearance. 

Hmmm. Let-me-think-about-it— YES!

The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson was often audio-recorded and sent overseas to our troops serving in the military as part of the United States Armed Forces Radio Network. And this episode was one that was recorded. With the permission of the Carson Entertainment Group, we are honored to share this rare episode as part of The Bob Crane Show: Reloaded podcast.


Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Happy Halloween 2017!

I have to say, I'm particularly proud of our Halloween episode of The Bob Crane Show: Reloaded, which is the sequel to our Friday the 13th episode. First, we cover some of Bob Crane's suspenseful acting roles, including his role in the film Arsenic and Old Lace, and in Rod Serling's Night Gallery and The Zero Hour. A lot of people don't know much about his acting roles outside of Hogan's Heroes, and they are worth checking out.

But our Halloween and Friday the 13th episodes are so much more than just information sharing. We provide some campy entertainment for you, and we don't hold back!

Somewhere along the way, when I was writing the Friday the 13th episode, I decided to introduce a little storyline. I didn't plan it. The script just morphed into it. As part of the episode, host Eric Senich interviews various spooky "guests"—Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees (neither of whom talk very much, if at all), Carrie, Dracula, and the Wicked Witch. They all ask Eric questions about Hogan's Heroes and behind-the-scenes trivia about the show. The end leaves the listener with a cliffhanger: Dracula has "kidnapped" me and sends Eric a note not to bother trying to find me or it would mean instant death for us both.

"Oh, well, if that's all. I guess I gotta go get her," Eric decides with a shrug, as if fighting Dracula is just another part of an ordinary day in his life.

And that leads right into our Halloween episode. Eric ventures to Romania, risking life and limb, to find me. Along the way, he meets a cast of ghoulish characters—Aunt Abby's ghost from Arsenic and Old Lace, Frankenstein's monster, and wolves and zombies. He gets transported inside an episode of The Zero Hour, and finally, with the help of a descendent of Van Helsing (played by my 13-year-old nephew Adam), he confronts Dracula and "rescues" me. And I use the word rescue loosely!

Now, I have always been a fan of Dracula, from Bela Lugosi to Geordie Johnson (in Dracula: The Series). There's just something about that sharp-dressed/sharp-fanged fellow and his suave demeanor that grabs my attention. In 2010, I even wrote a two-part teleplay sequel to Dracula: The Series (aptly named Dracula: The Sequel), with the hopes of launching a series reboot. Never happened (not yet, anyway!), but the dream lives on. The character my nephew plays in our Halloween episode—Nick—is one of the characters I created in the teleplay. And Eric and Adam did something that I never thought I'd experience. For a brief moment, they brought a part of my Dracula: The Sequel script to life. (By the way, Eric's Dracula impersonation is frightfully fantastic!) And that is pretty darn cool, not to mention special.

Below are both the Friday the 13th and Halloween episodes of our podcast. Get a bowl of popcorn and a handful of candy, and check out these two episodes, which are throwbacks to the campy horror radio dramas of yesteryear. Stay as long as you'd like. Longer, even. And Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

'Forecast Funnies': A Modern-Day On-Air Tribute to Bob Crane

What, might you ask, is a Forecast Funny?

Well, it's more than just a weather report. It's actually something pretty darn special.

If you've been listening to The Bob Crane Show: Reloaded podcast (and if you haven't, get with the program!), then you've been hearing the voice talents of our host, Eric Senich. Eric is a tremendous narrator, and he's related to Bob Crane through his father Jim Senich, Bob's first cousin. 

Jim grew up with Bob in Connecticut and loved him like a brother. They were about ten years apart in age, with Bob being older, and Bob looked out for his little cousin Jimmy. Later on, as Jim embarked on his own radio career, Bob took the time to help him and mentor him in the broadcasting industry. (Be sure to read the article Eric wrote about his father: "The Story of the Radio Man Who Inspires Me Every Day.)

Bob's murder devastated Jim. Over time, because Bob was no longer here to defend himself, Jim became a voice for his cousin, whom he always called Bobby, taking a stand against the negativity. The ongoing public ridicule, disrespect, and lack of kindness shown towards Bob—to this day—will cause Jim an enormous amount of pain and can bring him to tears. To speak against Bob is to speak against Jim.

Jim was a key contributor to Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography, and in 2007, he told Linda Groundwater and me: "The family really appreciates what you're doing for Bobby. We sure do. Bobby was just a big teddy bear. He was; he was a big teddy bear, and everybody loved him, and they didn't want to hear any bad things. Strange, people probably think he walked around with horns sticking out of his head, but he was a good guy."

When Eric and I first met, neither one of us had any idea that within a year, we'd be producing a podcast about Bob. Our podcast is very important to Eric, not just because Eric is a radio DJ or because he loves the whole idea of podcasting. In every episode, Eric honors both Bob and his father. In so doing, he bears the responsibility of being a voice for Bob, carrying this forward on behalf of his father.

But it doesn't end there. Eric is also bringing a part of Bob's legacy to life.

On Memorial Day weekend this year, Eric started doing something a little wild over the airwaves at WRKI i95, where he hosts the Saturday mid-day show. Eric started getting creative with his weather reports by adding sound effects, voices, and quick skits—just as Bob used to do on his show.

Eric calls these dressed-up weather reports his "Forecast Funnies."

If you're a fan of Bob Crane (and of Classic Rock) and you're not streaming Eric on Saturdays, you're missing out. Eric provides a wealth of information on the bands and the music. He's a powerhouse behind the mic. And now, when you hear the station's forecast intro near the top of every hour, you can't help but wonder, "What's he gonna do this time?" And for that split second, you get to experience what Bob's listeners got experience every day. You don't know what's going to happen next. He's got dogs and rounds of golf and tennis matches; allergy attacks; a sing along with Aileen Quinn ("Little Orphan Annie"); a cookout in the studio. Sometimes he gets stalked by Jason Voorhees and has had a Golum sighting. And the Hogan's Heroes gang from Stalag 13 often shows up, too, including one General Van Halenberger. (Okay, yeah, it's von Himmelberger, but Eric's a major Van Halen fan, so just go with it!)

Eric does every single one of these Forecast Funnies as a tribute to his father's cousin and as an honor to his father. They are hilarious. And they are beautiful.

Check out a few of Eric's Forecast Funnies in the compilation below, and then tune in for yourself and stream Eric on Saturdays. You'll be glad you did!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Court of Public Opinion: The Mistrial of Bob Crane

Our newest podcast episode was not fun to produce, but it was necessary. In this episode, Eric Senich and I talk candidly about Bob Crane's sex addiction, debunking certain myths and accusations about Bob born from the many inaccuracies contained in Auto Focus, and putting the issue into proper perspective.

  Note: This episode contains some explicit content
and is intended for a mature audience. 
Bob's son Scott Crane denies having said the quotes attributed to him in this 2002 New York Times article. These quotes attributed to Scott about his father showing him pornography are false. His father never showed him any pornography.

Bob's daughter Karen Crane has also gone on record to state that her father never shared his pornography with her. She was completely unaware of his sex addiction until after his murder.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Why We'll Never Endorse 'Auto Focus'

This quote speaks for itself. 

Yes, you read that right. It is unconscionable. It is disgusting. 

The general public watches this film and believes it to be true.

And it is not.

Auto Focus has done so much irreversible damage to Bob Crane's legacy and has hurt so many people from Bob's life, not the least of which are members of Bob's family and his close friends. When I see the pain it causes, I can't even put into words how it makes me feel.

It strengthens my resolve and pushes me to fight harder. Bob's family and friends mean something to me. They have become a part of my life. I cannot and will not just stand idly by and not fight on their and Bob's behalf.

Bob Crane was neither a devil nor a saint. He was human. Nobody is saying Bob was perfect. But not one single human being is perfect. And he was most certainly not the Bob Crane presented in Auto Focus

Not. Even. Close.

Auto Focus is total garbage. It never should have been made.

In 2004 or earlier, as soon as Auto Focus was out of theaters, Scott Crane removed all of his father's pornographic videos from his website. He has spoken to me at length about why he put them up for sale to begin with. He wanted to prove to people that the women in the videos not only knew they were being filmed, but they were performing for the camera; that it was consensual sex; and that there was nothing deviant going on. He told me, "I did the wrong thing for the right reasons." In 2014, Scott destroyed all of his father's pornographic films. The films and the website no longer exist.

Further, Bob's son Scott Crane denies having said the quotes attributed to him in the 2002 New York Times article mentioned here. These quotes attributed to Scott about his father showing him pornography are false. His father never showed him any pornography.

Bob's daughter Karen has also gone on record to state that her father never shared his pornography with her. She was completely unaware of his sex addiction until after his murder.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Bob Crane — Radio Pioneer, Radio Genius

In talking with many people worked with Bob Crane in radio—from WICC to KNX to KMPC, it became perfectly clear to my research colleagues/co-authors and me that Bob was a radio genius. In fact, his radio colleagues often used the phrase "radio genius" when describing Bob and his on-air talents.

After decades of research, we learned that Bob Crane was, indeed, a rarity in the broadcasting industry. He paved the way for future generations of radio DJs, talk show hosts, and personalities. According to so many who worked with the "King of the LA Airwaves" or listened to him on the air during the 1950s through the 1970s, Bob Crane was unique. He had a style all his own. It was a gift. 

Colleagues described watching Bob perform his show as if they were watching "a spectator sport." Listeners to Bob's radio show claimed they never knew what to expect. From commercials to drumming to impersonations and skits to celebrity interviews, Bob worked his magic and wove a program that kept listeners and advertisers at the edge of their seats and coming back for more. It all sounded completely spontaneous, as if everything he did was just springing to his mind, out of thin air.

Some of it was. It was a live show, after all.

Bob had a quick wit, and he could improvise. This served him well because he could think on his feet and rebound when things didn't always go according to plan.

But there was a plan. In addition to his innate capabilities behind the mic, Bob had something else.


You see, Bob Crane didn't just walk into the studio every morning and start talking into the microphone. Oh sure, he made it sound easy, as though he was just casually winging it.

He wasn't.

Bob's entire show was produced through extensive preparation. He worked hard at perfecting his show because he believed he owed it to his listeners to give them the very best listening experience he could offer them. People have a choice. They can buy a record (or today, download a song or album) or turn the dial. Bob wanted to make sure they wanted to to tune in to his show. He wanted his listeners to be entertained. He didn't want his show to be boring. And he did this by doing his homework, by reading the trade magazines, by studying the music artists and record labels, and keeping himself informed of everything going on in the entertainment/music industry.

As a result, The Bob Crane Show was everything but boring. It was captivating. It was wild. It was hilarious. It was dynamic. It was unprecedented.

For this reason and more, we will continue to petition for Bob's induction into the National Radio Hall of Fame, where he deserves proper recognition for his talents in and his dedication to the radio/broadcasting industry.


Excerpts from Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography:

Bob threw himself into his work. He was out the door in the morning before most people were even conscious to arrive at KNX by six o’clock a.m. He would prepare extensively—exhaustively—for his radio shows. He made people laugh, and he loved making people laugh.

Everything Bob did on his radio show was rhythmic, as if he had rehearsed it a dozen times or more. He had prepared for it, retrieved the album out of his growing stockpile records, located the tracks, and decided which ones to use within a commercial. However, his on-air delivery was unrehearsed and unplanned. He had a natural feel for both music and comedy, and as one joke slid into another, he maneuvered through his show the way a cab driver maneuvers through rush hour traffic.

“Bob told me that he had everything prepared in the afternoon,” [Bob's cousin] Jim Senich recalled. “He would never go home when he went off the air. He said, ‘I would stay there so that when I came in in the morning, everything was ready to go.’”

Bob’s son, Robert Scott Crane, explained that his father was a workaholic. “I don’t understand when he slept or ate. The amount or prep work he did for his shows was just amazing, preparing dozens of sound effects that he would play during the show.”

[KNX announcer] Leo McElroy said, “So much of Bob’s show seemed to spring from his brain instantaneously. I think that for many of us, it was hard to tell what was pre-thought and what was something that just suddenly cropped up. He managed to make it appear that it was spontaneous even if it wasn’t.”

In preparation for his show, Bob would read everything he could get his hands on. He was perhaps one of the most knowledgeable individuals in the entertainment industry of his era.

“He would read the paper,” said [KNX salesman] Gordon Mason. “He would always a have a comment or two on the news. In fact, that was important to him because eventually that became part of his on-air material. So he read the paper quite a bit. He was very well informed on world events, and he was very well informed on entertainment events because I think he always had an eye on opportunities, especially if they occurred on TV.”

As had been the case with KNX, KMPC also granted Bob a waiver to perform his show to his liking, with his engineer handling the commercials and songs, and Bob having special dispensation to play other records throughout the show to enhance the performance. He was both prepared and off-the-cuff, producing his radio show as he had done so fluidly in the past.

According to [KMPC engineer Bob Maryon], Bob was a “fascinating, hard-working, and nice man. I’ve worked with some people who have really big egos, and because of that they’re not really pleasant to work with. I never found that with Bob. Bob just wanted to do a good show. He wanted to do it right."

Excerpts from Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography
© 2015 Carol M. Ford
Do not reproduce without written permission from the author.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Latest Acquisition to the Liberty Aviation Museum's Official Hogan's Heroes Display

Ever since the Liberty Aviation Museum acquired Bob Crane's leather A-2 bomber jacket that he wore on Hogan's Heroes (also worn by Frank Sinatra in Von Ryan's Express), along with his entire Hogan's uniform, and Klink's and Schultz's uniforms, we have forged a strong partnership with the museum. In addition to preserving these iconic items from Hogan's Heroes and keeping them on permanent display for all to enjoy, they are also strong supporters of Bob Crane, Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography, and The Bob Crane Show: Reloaded. It's a match made in Heaven. And in Ohio. And I couldn't be happier!

The museum's CEO is always on the lookout for other signature items from Hogan's Heroes. One elusive prop was the coffee pot/receiver. Fans of Hogan's Heroes know very well that Hogan and his men would listen in on conversations going on in Klink's office through the coffee pot that concealed a receiver. The Hogan's Heroes coffee pot is, without a doubt, one of the most memorable props in television history. So we were all on the hunt for it. We knew it was part of a private collection somewhere in the world. But where?

Then earlier this year, that private collector decided to sell the coffee pot at a Hollywood auction. And the Liberty Aviation Museum was right there to "rescue" it and bring it home.

I'm thrilled to tell you that this iconic TV prop is now where it belongs, with the rest of the growing official Hogan's Heroes display! And that's where it's going to stay!

In addition to its many displays that showcase Hollywood in the military, the Liberty Aviation Museum is dedicated to preserving historical military items and vehicles. The museum is home to the refurbished B-25 "Georgie's Gal" and a restored Ford Tri-motor aircraft. They are currently restoring the PT-728, a WWII Vosper PT boat. The museum is also a great supporter of our veterans and active duty military personnel. Donations to the museum go toward helping them preserve such items, as well as honor our veterans and support our military. All author profits from sales of Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography sold through their gift shop are donated back to the museum to help them achieve their goals.

You can visit the Liberty Aviation Museum, which is located in Port Clinton, Ohio, year-round. To learn more about the museum, plan a trip, support and/or join, or browse their online gift store, click here.