Sunday, November 20, 2022

A Remarkable Life: A Tribute to Robert Clary

Portion of letter written by Robert Clary, sent to Linda Groundwater in 2008 regarding Bob Crane.
© Authors of Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography.
Do not use without written permission.
—Linda J. Groundwater

Saturday, September 10, 2022

Hanging Around Rod Serling's 'Night Gallery'

Ever since I was a little kid, I have always loved Halloween. Anything spooky, or mysterious, or a little bit scary—count me in. When the days grow shorter and there's a crisp chill in the night air, I get out the fall decorations and begin stocking up on pumpkin spice. I even go on those campy haunted tours!

And I love a good ghost story.

Spooky season is right around the corner, so what better time to talk about Rod Serling's Night Gallery? I am certainly not alone when I say I am a great fan of Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone and Night Gallery. So just imagine my excitement when, earlier this year, I was invited to provide audio commentary for the episode "House, with Ghost" (starring Bob Crane, Jo Anne Worley, and Bernard Fox) in the bonus features section of the Night Gallery Season 2 DVD Blu-Ray release!


I was interviewed and recorded in the spring, and I am very happy with how the producers used my audio clips. In addition to my segments, the entire bonus commentary over the episode includes the narrator, who provides historical details of the episode (some based on my interview and our book Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography), as well as audio clips from notables affiliated with Night Gallery. Also featured in the bonus section is a segment of Bob's KNX radio interview with Rod Serling. 

Needless to say (but I'm gonna say it anyway), representing Bob in the audio commentary of his episode, as well as simply being a part of Rod Serling's Night Gallery, is such an honor, to say the least. Many thanks to Night Gallery DVD producer Jim Benson for this wonderful opportunity!

The 2022 re-release of Night Gallery Season 2 on HD/Blu-Ray was released in July 2022 and is available through Amazon and elsewhere.

Monday, July 25, 2022

Defender of the Truth: In Loving Memory of Bob Crane's Cousin Jim Senich

Jim Senich and his wife, Ellen (seated, front).
Linda Groundwater and her son, Andrew (back).
Summer 2010.
I learned today of the passing of Jim Senich.

I first met Jim when I decided to embark on the journey of writing Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography. I was given his name and contact details, because he worked in Connecticut radio, and Bob was his first cousin. I was hoping that he would be able to give me some information and that he would have some stories to tell, and perhaps other contacts. He, himself, was a contact.

But Jim became so much more than that. Not only did he succeed spectacularly at what I hoped for from a writer's point of view, he shared himself. He shared his family. He shared his home. He shared his friendship. Jim and his wife Ellen and their daughter Mary welcomed me and my son Andrew into their home when we visited back in 2010. I remember two sweet doggies. A wonderful Italian dinner. Music! Books! And hours of talk and laughter and true to heart, genuine conversation. A trip around Waterbury, and a sit-down in a local park, where we just spoke about life and its unexpectedness. And he was so happy to know Andrew, who nearly shared Jim's birthday—the two being born a day apart (though vastly different in years). He sent packages with baseball themed gifts even before they met in person, and my little boy, he was happy. And he knew he had a real friend in his "almost" birthday twin.

Life wasn't always fair to the "Great Dane," but Jim tried his hardest to look at it from a larger perspective. He was so proud of his family, and he had every reason to be. We did lose touch, in the end. I regret that. But I will hold him close in my heart, with thanks for all he was, and for all he is.

Jim, may you rest in eternal peace with the Lord that you love. Thank you for everything, my friend. Your memory will be in my heart always.

Linda Groundwater
July 25, 2022

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Dead Again...and Again: The Murder and Ongoing Destruction of Bob Crane

On June 29, 1978, Bob Crane was murdered in his sleep. He was just 49 years old, and only a couple of weeks shy of his 50th birthday. Despite numerous unproven theories, the crime remains officially unsolved to this day.

Following his murder, information about Bob's private life surfaced. It was placed on display for all to see—and judge, with no explanation or perspective. The cry rang out: Bob Crane, beloved star of Hogan's Heroes, had a secret "dark side." 

Over the decades, this side of his life has obscured nearly all else about him, and the proliferation of articles, television shows, documentaries, books, YouTube videos, and podcasts focusing on true crime and vulgar humor—not to mention Auto Focus—is unending and unrelenting. Bob Crane's sex addiction and unsolved murder are lucrative as well as convenient for a cheap punchline to a bad joke.

Since our book, Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography, was published in 2015, we have continued to actively tell Bob's story with proper perspective to allow a more profound understanding of Bob as a complete human being. This is not an easy task. Just as researching Bob's life had its hurdles and barriers, so does being his official biographers. We've heard it all and seen it all. And a lot of what we've seen and heard from those who did not know Bob but who only think they know him—is just plain ugly.

Take, for instance, Fox News host Greg Gutfeld. Mr. Gutfeld thinks he is being so funny in his article, entitled, "Bad People Abuse Good Intentions," when he talks about a "transgender ex-Nazi bank robber." 

Mr. Gutfeld states:

Now, I could have done a mono on inflation or Joe Biden, but really not again. It's so boring. Thankfully, a producer offered this headline, quote, "Transgender ex neo-Nazi Robber to receive fast tracked gender confirmation surgeries." Wow. I'm so glad he's an ex neo-Nazi. But talk about a perfect storm of Gutfeldian content: trans, Nazi, gender surgery, prison. It sounds like a Hogan's Heroes after party at Bob Crane's condo. That dude was crazy. Read up on him, seriously. 

What on earth? What an uneducated word salad.

Let me remind everyone: Bob Crane had consensual sex with adult women only, whom he often photographed or videotaped with their knowledge and willingness to participate. Further, in the months leading up to his murder, Bob was seeking professional counseling in the attempt to break free of this lifestyle, which he came to understand and recognize as an addiction. He was hoping to better his life, but he was denied that opportunity because someone took his life away from him. In that moment, when his murderer bludgeoned him as he slept, that evil monster took away Bob's life and dreams of the future, as well as shattered not only his friends and loved ones, but his legacy as well. 

Murdered. Judged. Ridiculed. Legacy destroyed. 

We do know his true story. We do care. And so we tell his story. Often. Every chance we get.

Bob's so-called "dark side" is actually kind of boring. For those who take the time to learn about Bob, it becomes quite clear. Yet there are those who still try to be funny by resorting to their meager inventions of alternative facts to suit their pathetic narrative in the attempt to boost their ratings and generate sales. How heartless.

Co-Bob Crane biographer Linda Groundwater has this to say about Gutfeld's statement, and I whole-heartedly agree:

Carol sent me a message that included an excerpt from an article online by Greg Gutfeld from Fox. Ignoring the entire rest of the article (let's not bring politics into this, shall we?), there was this little bombshell in his commentary: 

"But talk about a perfect storm of Gutfeldian content: trans, Nazi, gender surgery, prison. It sounds like a Hogan's Heroes after party at Bob Crane's condo. That dude was crazy. Read up on him, seriously." 

It went right over my head the first time. I couldn't even fathom what I was seeing. I read it again. And then again. And it made me angry. It made me SO angry. Forty-four years ago this week, Bob Crane was murdered. An addict, yes. A man who had a lot of sex, sure. But a human being. A man who tried. A man who had consensual sex with women. Not a person who deserved to be the butt of some weak, derisive, throwaway humor by some hack out to get a guffaw through his ignorance of truth. 

People ask us all the time, why do we do what we do? 

THIS IS WHY. Feel free to direct Mr. Gutfeld to reality. You're never too old to be educated. And if he has the tiniest, tiniest, sliver of humanity in him, he'll take us up on the challenge to actually learn the truth. Somehow, I doubt he'll do it. Because people who make jokes like this about Bob rarely want to learn. It's easier to point and laugh and stay ignorant than it is to see his humanity. 

Bob deserves better. We will NEVER stop.

Linda J. Groundwater
June 28, 2022 

Monday, August 30, 2021

Bob Crane: Family Videos

During the course of what is now nearly two decades, my coauthors—Linda Groundwater and Dee Young—and I have seen and heard just about everything there is relating to Bob Crane's life and tragic death. As his official and authorized biographers, we have been granted exclusive permission to view and entrusted with Bob's personal belongings. Perhaps one of the most important pieces of research we've reviewed, however, is a movie reel. 

When you say the words movie reel in the same sentence as the name Bob Crane, how many of you thought of one thing? For the record (again), Bob engaged in amateur pornography with adult, consensual women who agreed to be filmed. (Yes, it's been investigated by the authorities, and yes, the women knew they were being filmed. Enough said—until the next time we have to say it.) 

Now that you've gotten that out of your system... 

The simple truth is that Bob recorded everything. He audio recorded. He photographed. He filmed. He journaled. He catalogued. He chronicled. And he did this with every single aspect of his life from the time he was a teenager throughout his entire life. When you put it all into perspective, the "naughty bits" constituted just a small piece of a much larger collection that was primarily composed of Bob's every day life.

In our opinion, one of the most important pieces of footage Bob Crane filmed was on Father's Day—June 18, 1978, just ten days before his murder. His wife Patty (Sigrid Valdis) and their son Scott had arrived in Scottsdale on a surprise to visit him. Reports claim he was upset by their visit. Bob and Patty were separated at the time and on the brink of divorce. However, Bob invited them over to his Scottsdale apartment. Because it was Father's Day, they gave him cards and a gift. Bob could never have imagined that in just under two weeks and right before his 50th birthday, his life would be cut short in that very same location, just a few yards from the living room where he received his cards and gift from Scotty, then just seven years old. 

To this day, Bob's murder remains unsolved. A great deal of speculation surrounds the murder of Bob Crane and who may have killed him, with much emphasis on John Henry Carpenter (different from the film director) as the primary suspect. In 1992, he was arrested. A trial followed, and in 1994, Carpenter was found not guilty. Arm chair detectives have a field day with this unsolved case, discussing their theories, making their jokes, deciding who they believe must have done it. 

Back to Father's Day 1978. I watched the Bob's family video taken on Father's Day 1978 for the first time while visiting Scott in 2013. I sat in Scott's living room with him, his then-soon-to-be wife, and his children, and we watched. And as I watched, I was mesmerized. Here was Bob Crane, the regular guy—a husband and father who didn't want his marriage to end. Not famous Colonel Hogan or radio personality; not murder victim; not tabloid headline. Since then, I have wished more people could see what I was seeing. This footage showed me, without question, how much of a loving father Bob was. It showed me how much he adored his family—just absolutely cherished his family, especially his children. And it proved without a doubt how much in love he was with his  wife—and how much she loved him, too, despite their marital troubles. 

When Linda was interviewed for the Autopsy episode about Bob Crane in November 2020, which aired in June 2021, she mentioned this video to the producers when talking about Bob as a family man who loved his family. They were astonished. They asked Linda, "How do you know about this video?" And Linda responded bluntly, "Because I have seen it."

Scott Crane has now made this video available to the public. I am so very happy he has done so because now you can see for yourself. This is not play acting for an audience. This is family. 

These are Bob Crane's home movies of himself and the people he loved: his wife, his children, his parents, and his friends. Bob Crane was a human being. He was also murdered. And his family and friends are still deeply affected by and mourn his loss.

No unauthorized use of any portion of this video—audio or video—is allowed without written permission of Robert Scott Crane. 
For all permission requests, click here.

Saturday, August 28, 2021

'Hogan's Heroes' Revue: The Pilot — How It Differed from the Series

Hogan's Heroes is often considered the older cousin of MASH. When studying the two shows, you can see very clearly how MASH was allowed to evolve in a much more dramatic way than Hogan's Heroes ever could. But that doesn't mean Hogan's Heroes didn't evolve. It did, and by quite a bit.

After the pilot episode was filmed and then picked up by CBS for broadcast, drastic changes were made to the series. In the latest episode of 'Hogan's Heroes' Revue, Linda Groundwater and Carol Ford discuss the pilot episode. They offer a comparison to MASH, as well as other episodes, to provide insight into how pilots are vastly different from the series, as well as how a series can grow and evolve. They discuss Hogan's Heroes casting, set, and style changes, and they also talk about the purpose of pilot episodes in general and the importance of character actors.

Obviously, the series was produced by the company Bing Crosby Productions. However, Edward H. Feldman was the Executive Producer who needed to answer to the head of CBS—first James Aubrey, and after his dismissal in 1965 (very soon after Hogan's Heroes was picked up), John "Jack" Schneider. Without the approval of CBS, Hogan's Heroes would not have been picked up and aired, no matter which company produced it. Through his tenacity, Edward Feldman was able to make changes to the series that CBS granted, including the switch from black and white to color, among other style, actor, and set changes.

We hope you enjoy this episode of 'Hogan's Heroes' Revue!

Listen to "03. The ‘Hogan’s Heroes’ Pilot: How 'The Informer' Differed from the Rest of the Series" on Spreaker. Listen to "04. Commentary Series — ‘Hogan’s Heroes’ Episode #1: ‘The Informer’" on Spreaker.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Happy Birthday Bob Crane!

Happy Heavenly Birthday Bob Crane! 

Today, July 13, 2021, Bob Crane would be 93 years old. 

Bob was not only the star of Hogan's Heroes, but he was an accomplished drummer and gifted musician, a broadcasting pioneer who was described as a radio genius by those who worked with him, a dear friend to many, a loving father, a humanitarian who genuinely cared about others, and a complete and complex human being, no different than the rest of us.

"Everybody has a history to his or her life. Let’s not paint Bob’s life by—what shall we say?—the moments in his life. I say these things that are the flaws are like specks on the Parthenon. Let’s look at the Parthenon and let’s not look at the specks. Let’s lift our eyes up to the man’s eyes and soul and life, and not look down on the gutter." —Joe Cosgrove, former staff announcer, KPOL, Los Angeles, and owner, KTHL, Lake Tahoe, CA; the first person to greet Bob when he arrived in Hollywood in August 1956. © Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography

And with that, we also say Happy Enarc-Drof Week! Don't know what that is? Listen to our birthday celebration podcast episode to find out! 

Listen to "012. The Lucky Number 13" on Spreaker.