Published in September 2015, Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography contains the first-hand testimonies, memories, and recollections from 200 prominent individuals from Bob Crane's life. Family, friends as far back as grade school, and coworkers in radio, television (including many from Hogan's Heroes), theatre, and film have helped tell his complete story. In addition, the hard cover edition contains more than 200 rare family and professional photographs, some never before published or seen by the public until now. Discover the truth! If you think you know Bob Crane before reading this book, you don't know him at all. Author profits will be donated to various charities in Bob's memory.
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Official Statement about the Re-Investigation of Bob Crane's Murder (11/23/16)
"We—my coauthors and I, members of Bob Crane's family, his friends, and his colleagues—are always hopeful that one day, the true identity of Bob's murderer will be known and justice can be served. However, this recent investigation did not reveal any groundbreaking information or provide a resolution, and the subsequent media coverage did nothing more than bring unnecessary heartache to many who knew, loved, and cared about Bob. We do not discuss or endorse any speculative theories as to who may have committed the crime. We encourage those who want to know more about Bob Crane to discover his complete and true life story in Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography. All author profits are being donated to various charities in Bob's memory."
—Carol Ford, author, Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Happy Birthday, Bob Crane!

Many consider the number 13 to be unlucky, and those with triskaidekaphobia will do anything and everything to avoid this number at all costs. But for Bob Crane, who was born on Friday, July 13, 1928, it became what he called his lucky number.

Today, Bob would have been 88 years old, and in his short life of just shy of fifty years, he accomplished so much, and in fact, much more than most people do in an entire lifetime if they lived to be a hundred. Of his impressive career climb, Bob once stated: "As far as I know, nobody has followed the line of succession from radio-to-television-to-movies as I have in the past ten years or so. It's a long process, but I knew what I wanted and where I hoped to go."

And he was right. Bob always set goals for himself, and putting his mind to it, he achieved them. How many entertainers do you know worked in every medium of the entertainment profession? Bob was successful, and in some cases, a dynamic success in music, radio, television, stage, and film.

Bob Crane was:
  • An adept drummer and musician since his childhood, and he produced one record album.
  • A pioneer in the radio and broadcasting industry, and often referred to as a radio genius by his colleagues.
  • A successful television and film actor who took his acting seriously—more seriously than most people realize or given credit for. He performed his roles so well that he made it look easy, when in fact, he worked very hard at perfecting every role.
  • A talented theatre actor and director, who used his time on stage to further enhance his acting and directing skills.
  • A versed writer, who authored several news columns, a television pilot, and a variety show stage production based on what he envisioned was the Hogan's Heroes finale, entitled Hogan's Heroes Revue. He also rewrote sections of Beginner's Luck, and shortly before he died, he hinted at wanting to write his autobiography.
  • An avid reader who kept himself informed of every aspect of the entertainment and music industries. As the Nashua Telegraph published in 1966, "Bob Crane is one of the best informed persons on the world of entertainment, subscribing to and reading all trade publications and reading every book on the market concerned with the entertainment industry."
  • Self-taught and a self-starter, if he didn't know how to do something, he would take the time to learn how on his own.
  • Extremely devoted to his family. He loved them very much, and what he wanted most was for them to be happy and safe, and for there to peace and harmony.
  • A philanthropist and a natural helper. If someone needed advice or assistance, he was there. In addition to donating much of his time and talents to many charities and organizations regularly, he also helped out his family, friends, and colleagues whenever he could, even if just by imparting his words of wisdom to them.

In Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography, as well as on this blog and elsewhere on our social media sites, I quote a passage from an audio recording Bob sent to his cousin, Jim Senich, who at the time was building his own radio career in Connecticut. Bob advised: "Eventually, what you're looking for is gonna happen, and by the time it does happen, you'll be that much better along the way to what you should be. Don't get discouraged, and just keep on plugging along, and what you want will eventually be yours. You know, there's nothing to stop it if you just keep on working hard. And by working hard, I mean doing the best job you possibly can. Everything happens for the best, and I believe it completely."

These are powerful words, and words that can be applied even today and in any situation. As for Jim, he took his cousin's advice seriously. He went on to achieve his own successful radio career, including working for  WICC in Bridgeport, Connecticut, as Bob did before him. As Jim talked with Linda and me for Bob's biography, he described his cousin, whom he still calls Bobby, to us this way: "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."

Jim's son Eric Senich, who also maintains a rewarding career in radio, has graciously made Bob's audio letter to his father available for the public to enjoy. Take a few minutes and listen to Bob—not as a radio personality, not as Colonel Hogan on Hogan's Heroes, not as an entertainer—but as a person reaching out to help a member of his family by offering sound advice.

This is a pure example of the real Bob Crane. Today, on his birthday, Bob's family, friends, and colleagues, as well as his fans, continue to miss him very much. We will never know what treasures he would have given us had he lived on past his fiftieth birthday. But what we do know is what he gave to us during his fifty years of life: talent, joy, kindness, compassion, and generosity. And it was extraordinary.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Bob Crane: 'My Drumming'

Bob Crane plays drums, as his second wife
and Scott's mother, Sigrid Valdis (Patricia Olson),
and Freddy the Chimp join him
on the set of Hogan's Heroes
Bob Crane was just eleven years old when he first discovered the one thing that he would hold dear to him for the rest of his life: his drums. Wherever he went, his drums and drumsticks went with him, whether it was in school, on the radio, in his Hogan's Heroes dressing room, on television guest appearances, and on the road. He played his drums constantly both for enjoyment and to relieve stress. Hogan's Heroes costar Robert Clary recalled it was smart for the producers to allow him to play drums in his dressing room, stating it was not only a way for him to relax between scenes, but everyone always knew where to find him (just follow the drums!).

There is no question that Bob was a talented drummer. Music producer Stu Phillips, who produced the album Bob Crane, His Drums and Orchestra Play the Funny Side of TV, and also arranged many of the numbers on the album with Bob, talked with us about Bob's musicianship. When making the album, Bob was capable of keeping up with the orchestra's professional studio musicians—some of the best in the industry, brought a lot of fun to the recording sessions, and also had a blast creating the album. As Stu said, the look on Bob's face on the album cover says it all—he was having the time of his life! (Details of our interview with Stu Phillips are included in Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography). 

Bob Crane practices his drums in his
Hogan's Heroes dressing room.
Just as much as I love listening to Bob's airchecks, I also love to listen to his drumming. I have a great appreciation for music, and drums run in my family. My brother-in-law, both of my nephews, and some of my dearest friends are all drummers. They are a unique breed, drummers. And by observing them, I can absolutely envision what Bob had been like when it came to his drums and music.

Fans of Hogan's Heroes know that Bob played drums in two episodes of the series: in "Flight of the Valkyries" (season one), where he plays timpani, and in "Look at the Pretty Snowflakes" (season six), where he lets loose on a drumset during the number "Cherokee." But he also played drums for the Hogan's Heroes theme that rolls during the opening and closing credits, as well as all of the ancillary music during each episode. Knowing that neat interesting bit of classic television trivia makes watching the show even more fun to watch!

A few years ago, I had the honor and pleasure of staying with Scott Crane and his family as I spent three days going through all of his father's personal belongings as part of researching Bob's biography. Among the many items I sorted through were several cassette tapes that held his radio airchecks, random conversations, and a tape that Bob simply labeled, "My Drumming." This tape contains a solid two hours of Bob practicing or performing on drums, and it is, for lack of a better word, amazing. And that's not just because I am a fan or his biographer. This tape is further evidence of just how good of a drummer Bob was. It also shows just how much he loved playing drums and—like everything he did in his career—worked very hard to always improve his skills.

On January 10, 1967, Bob appeared on The Red Skeleton Hour, during which he played drums to a classical arrangement of "Norwegian Wood" by The Beatles. This is a rehearsal track of that number that Bob taped and saved on the "My Drumming" cassette. On The Red Skeleton Hour, the audience's applause drowns out some of his drumming, but here, there is no audience interruption because Bob recorded it during a rehearsal. Enjoy!


This recording is courtesy of Scott Crane.