Thursday, June 29, 2017

Bob Crane's Unsolved Murder: A Proper Perspective

           Note: Episode contains some explicit content and is intended for a mature audience. 
           You must be signed in to YouTube and over 18 years to watch.

It's difficult to believe that Bob Crane was murdered thirty-nine years ago. I was only eight years old when Bob died during the early morning hours of June 29, 1978, so I don't remember hearing about the crime when it happened. It was several years later, when I was in high school, when I learned of his murder and the scandal that erupted afterwards.

I will be perfectly honest with you. I was pretty upset. I mean, he was Colonel Hogan. Nobody murders Colonel Hogan! But when I discovered Bob's sexual proclivities, I was disgusted. I didn't know how I could ever watch Hogan's Heroes again. Like most people, I only knew what the media told me. And I bought into it. All of it. Because that was all I was ever told.

But over time, as I transitioned from adolescence to adulthood, I started to realize something important. Bob Crane was only human. So what if he was having a lot of consensual sex? It wasn't my personal choice of a lifestyle, but that doesn't make someone a bad person. What was the big deal? I was (and still am) a big fan of Night Court. Why was District Attorney Dan Fielding, the role John Larroquette played to perfection, so acceptable to audiences, when it was more or less the same thing Bob Crane had been doing? Plus, nobody's perfect. We all fall short of that margin. Every single one of us.

I decided there had to be more to Bob's story than just the headlines. I wanted to find out. So I did.

And guess what? No big surprise—there is much more to his story.
  • That's why Linda Groundwater, Dee Young, and I researched, wrote, and published Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography. We talked with two hundred people from Bob's life over the course of twelve years and discovered who Bob Crane really was. And he was very different than how he's been presented in the media since his death.
  • That's why we donate our author profits to various charities in Bob's memory or roll the money right back into what we do for Bob. Because it's not about the money for us. It's about truth.
  • That's why we nominated Bob for the National Radio Hall of Fame. Because he was a radio pioneer who changed the radio industry, and he deserves that recognition.
  • That's why Eric Senich and I are producing a podcast—The Bob Crane Show: Reloaded, which is based on Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography.
  • That's why we keep going. Because Bob Crane has a story to tell, and it's far and away more profound than you are otherwise led to believe.

As we concluded in Bob's biography, after discovering his whole life story:
     Whatever his struggles or disappointments, the compass of Bob’s life always pointed toward the positive. Hopefulness. Compassion. Excitement. Happiness. Courage. He loved completely, supported unconditionally, worked untiringly, and remained “the guy that always assumes no matter what’s in that room, there’s a pony hidden underneath all of that stuff”—a rare optimism that wouldn’t be snuffed out. He knew what he wanted in his work, and he figured out how to achieve it. Most of all, he wanted—needed—to be loved, liked, and accepted. And sometimes, in trying to meet that need, he was tripped up by human weakness.
     At the end of our lives, do we want to be remembered and judged only for our flaws and imperfections? Do we want people to focus in on the specks that mar our heritage and blot out all the good we’ve done? Do we want our families to be reminded of our mishaps and struggles constantly? No. Bob was much more than his struggles and weaknesses. In spite of his flaws, he was a kind person, a joyful person, a talented person, a courageous person—a whole person.* 

On this 39th anniversary of Bob Crane's death, and any time you hear Bob's name mentioned, take a step away from the noise and rhetoric. Remember he was more than that headline. He was human.

Watch the YouTube version of our podcast episode above (it's only nine minutes), and listen to Eric's first-hand account of how the murder of Bob Crane—his father's cousin—impacted his family.

And for just one minute, stop—and think.
*Excerpt from Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography. © Carol M. Ford.


  1. There's nothing wrong with a person who has a lot of consensual sex, but Bob Crane was a husband and father. He betrayed his wife and children and he was a hypocrite for portraying himself as a family man.

  2. Both of his wives knew of it, and they allowed it. His children confirm that he was a good father. Bob's lifestyle, which turned into an addiction, didn't just happen after he became famous. It started as early as 1950, and maybe earlier, in Connecticut. Shortly before his death in 1978, he came to understand it as an addiction and was seeking counseling for it. Nobody is perfect. Not me. Not you. Bob Crane wasn't a hypocrite. He was an addict. And he wanted to overcome it. As Eric says in the podcast episode, if you know anything about addiction, you know once someone acknowledges it and starts counseling, that person understands he or she has to go through a lot of pain. That is courageous. I encourage you to read Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography to understand Bob better and learn the truth.

  3. People Magazine, September 4, 1994: "Crane’s videotaped seductions continued unabated—despite the damage that his promiscuity was wreaking on his domestic life. In 1949, Crane, born and raised in Waterbury, Conn., had wed his high school sweetheart Ann Terzian, with whom he had three children, Bob Jr., now 43, Deborah, 35, and Karen, 32. But their marriage collapsed in 1968, after Ann discovered Bob was having an affair with actress Sigrid Valdis, who played Colonel Klink’s curvy blonde secretary on Hogan’s Heroes." It doesn't seem Ann allowed it, does it?

  4. That is a magazine article with loads of inaccuracies.
    1. Bob was born in Waterbury, CT, in 1928. In 1930, he and his family moved to Stamford, where he was raised for most of his early life. In the mid-1930s, his family moved to Poughkeepsie, NY, where his father found work during the Great Depression, but they returned after two years to Stamford because they missed being home. Bob graduated from Stamford High School in 1946. After that, he served in the U.S. National Guard and also worked in a jewelry store prior to landing his first radio job in March 1950 in Hornell, NY.
    2. Bob and Anne (with an e) married in May 1949, but in 1950, they separated. They separated at least three times before Bob even made it to Hollywood. They had been having marital problems early on. Bob remained at WLEA in Hornell, NY, from March 1950-December 1950 or early January 1951, when he returned to CT to be closer to family.
    3. Bob Jr was born in June 1951. Deborah was born in 1959, and Karen was born in 1960. Debbie's and Karen's ages in the 1994 People magazine are completely wrong.
    4. Bob and Anne were officially separated in May 1969, not 1968.
    5. Bob had an affair with Cynthia Lynn, Klink's first secretary Helga, before having the affair with Patricia Olsen (Sigrid Valdis). After Cindy left after season one to work on her marriage, Bob started seeing Patty. They were married after Bob and Anne's divorce was final, and they had one son, Scott. Bob left Anne because he and Patty wanted to be married. Anne remarried as well, and up until Bob's death in 1978, Bob and Anne remained friends. The two families often got together for picnics, holidays, and other celebrations.
    I am close friends with the family, and that includes his children and his cousins, as well as with many of his friends and colleagues. For our book, we talked with 200 people from Bob's life, including his children and other members of his family; his friends as far back as grade school; colleagues in radio, TV, theatre, and film; as well as the man who was helping him overcome his addiction just before his murder. According to many of those people who knew Bob better than most, yes, Anne knew. I'm not saying it was easy for her or for Bob. Just that she was aware. Now, you can believe a one-off paragraph in a People magazine (which got a whole lot of stuff wrong) and tabloid headlines that seek to shock and awe for profit, or you can read our book for Bob's whole story. Our author profits go to charity. It's not about the money for us. It's about truth and understanding.
    By the way, Patty wasn't blonde. She was a brunette. She wore a wig in the show, what she often referred to as the "Hilda wig."

  5. Bob Crane recognized that he had an addiction and was talking with a counselor in the weeks leading up to his death. We talked extensively with that counselor, and his interview is included in our book. To gain a better understanding, my coauthors and I talked with four experts in sex addiction about Bob. Their opinions are also included in the book to provide further clarity. So again, I encourage you to read our book, which was heavily researched and provides proper understanding, context, and perspective.

  6. The first time I saw Hogan's Heroes, I was about 12 years old, so it would have been around 2001. I was a big fan of Richard Dawson on Family Feud, so when I found out he had been on Hogan's Heroes, I started watching that too. I remember thinking Bob Crane was a nice looking man, and Colonel Hogan was pretty funny, but I knew absolutely nothing about him. So naturally when I saw that the E! True Hollywood Story of Bob Crane was coming on, I made sure to watch it.

    What I saw horrified me as a 12 or 13 year old girl, who went to a small Christian school, so I was very sheltered. I had no idea he was murdered, and I believed everything they said about him, because I certainly didn't know any better. I wish I could find that episode now and watch it as an adult now that I have a better perspective on the whole situation.

    Fast forward to two years ago, and I saw the DVD collection of Hogan's Heroes on Amazon, so I ordered it and started watching them. After I ordered the DVDs, Amazon sent me a recommendation for "Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography", which hadn't yet been released. Sadly, my initial thought was "Who would want to write his life story? With all the sick stuff he was into?" Eventually though, my curiosity about the show made me order the book, and I'm so glad I did.

    I had no idea Bob Crane was such a talented drummer and radio personality. All I knew was Hogan's Heroes, and then he was murdered a few years later. We tend to forget that celebrities are human beings just like the rest of us, with real feelings and real problems that can't be solved in a half-hour sitcom episode.

    That Bob Crane had to battle such a consuming addiction is sad; that he was robbed of the chance to receive treatment and live a full, happy life is tragic. But what he did in his personal life does not and should not take away from his professional accomplishments. Why can people look past the things other stars have done, but not Bob Crane?

    When Adam West passed away recently, several articles surfaced referencing orgies, and sleeping with 8 women in one day, etc., and all of it was presented in either a humorous way, or like a pat on the back to him for being able to get so many women. Anything similar about Bob Crane invariably refers to him as a pervert. So it's OK for Batman to have consensual sex with multiple women, but not Colonel Hogan? It's certainly not a safe lifestyle, nor is it one I have chosen for myself, but adults get to make their own decisions.

    I know this is a ridiculously long comment, but I guess my point is that Bob Crane was not a saint, but neither are the rest of us. He didn't deserve to be murdered, and his family certainly did not deserve to have to deal with not only his death, but the continuing scandal nearly 40 years later. Bob Crane deserves to be recognized for his talent, and his generosity, and his kindness, and not for what he did in his private life, which is no one's business in the first place.

    1. Thank you so much for your comment. This is beautifully written, and it means so much to me and to so many, including members of Bob's family. I'm so glad you found us and have discovered Bob's full story. All the best to you. -Carol

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  8. I just want to say that I am so glad a site like this exists that pays proper tribute to Mr. Crane. I first watched Hogan's Heroes when it came out on TV Land ca. 1996; I was about 16. I thought Hogan was so handsome and his charm and quick wit were disarming. Today, I still occasionally watch a rerun or two of Hogan and the show is still as funny to me as an adult, if not funnier.

    Yes, I got curious and learned that he was murdered and learned about the dark secrets that were uncovered as a result, and it didn't change my mind one bit about him. In fact I felt so sorry that he met such an untimely death.

    When I read on this site that he was a kind, charitable, smart, witty and hard-working guy who would take the shirt off his back for you, it does not surprise me one bit. I've always known in my heart he was that type of person.

    So thank you, Carol, for leading a community that cares genuinely about Bob Crane. He deserves it, and I think he would be proud.


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For more about Bob Crane, visit

For more about Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography, which was published on September 17, 2015, visit