Friday, July 13, 2018

Bob Crane's 90th Birthday: July 13, 2018

It's hard to believe that Bob Crane would have been 90 years old today. Or perhaps 90 years young! I know and am close with many of Bob's friends from school and work, and they are all right around the same age—80s and 90s. And let me tell you, they have just as much life in them as any kid!

What would Bob have thought about the world today had he lived? It's difficult to say. While we can't know for sure, I do have my own thoughts on the matter. First, I believe he would have enjoyed technology, and he would have immersed himself in the world of audio sound files. How very different it would be for him today as compared to the 1950s-1970s! Bob also liked to stay informed about all subjects, from current events to entertainment, and I can see him being very intrigued by podcasts, devouring as many as he could possibly listen to in the span of each day. I'm not sure what he would have thought about social media, but I think he would have enjoyed the basic social aspect of it.

Most importantly, I believe whole-heartedly that he would have written a book—his autobiography. A few days before his murder, a reporter interviewed Bob in Arizona. He asked him some standard questions about Hogan's Heroes, about his play Beginner's Luck (which he had been performing at the time), and about his life in general.

During this interview, Bob mentioned that if he were ever to write his autobiography, he would title it Laughing All the Way to the Grave. He didn't go into detail beyond the idea for a title, but I imagine it would have happened. Bob was a writer, and he liked to make people happy and make them laugh. So at some point, I think he would have written a book that inspired, educated, and entertained. I think he would have talked about radio, and of course, his work on Hogan's Heroes. He might have enlightened us on his acting ambitions and how much he loved his drums. And had he overcome his addiction, he might have shed some light on that as well, urging people to be more tolerant towards others as opposed to judgment and ridicule.

As J.M. Barrie stated, "Be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle."

Words to live by, or at the very least, try to.

It's a shame we never got to know what life would hold for Bob Crane because he never got to live it to his natural end. What I can tell you is that his family, friends, and many of his colleagues loved Bob—genuinely. He was also not ready to die and didn't expect to die that night in June 1978. 

Last year, when I was at the MidAtlantic Nostalgia Convention, I spent some time talking with Dawn Wells (Mary Ann on Gilligan's Island). Following Bob's murder, Dawn spearheaded an awareness campaign to safeguard actors when they traveled to different theatres across the country. I gave her a copy of Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography, and when she took the book from me, she held it close to her, almost like she was holding a baby. And she said to me, "I loved him so much." That touched me so deeply, and I'll never forget it.

So what can I tell you on Bob Crane's birthday? Well, don't judge others, especially without knowing all of the facts. Stop for one moment and think. Bob Crane was a human being. He had family and friends, trials and triumphs, and emotions that ranged from happy to sad, as do we all. He sought to do good and to be good, and to make the world a better place through laughter. We all try to do our best and get by in this world that throws so many challenges at us.

Bob did the same. 

My birthday, ironically, is tomorrow—July 14. So for my birthday as well as for Bob's, shelve the negativity and shine a little light. Do a random act of kindness in Bob's memory. That would mean so much in a world that could use more of it.

Happy Birthday, Bob Crane. I'm glad your light still shines in my world!

Sunday, July 8, 2018

TV Guide Cover Photo Shoot | November 19, 1966

Hogan's Heroes fans know this TV Guide cover well. 

The November 19-25, 1966, issue of TV Guide included an article by Dick Hobson entitled, "The Strange History of A-5714." This article details Robert Clary's experiences during the Holocaust and how he felt about working on the set of Hogan's Heroes as a survivor of Nazi concentration camps.

Clary enjoyed working on the set of Hogan's Heroes, and to him, it was an acting job. He makes it very clear that there is no comparison between Hogan's Heroes and concentration camps. As he states in the article: "Stalag 13 is not a concentration camp. It's a POW camp, and that's a world of difference. You never heard of a prisoner of war being gassed or hanged. Whereas we were not even human beings. When we got to Buchenwald, the SS shoved us into a shower room to spend the night. I had heard the rumors about the dummy shower heads that were gas jets. I thought, this is it. But no, it was just a place to sleep. The first eight days there, the Germans kept us without even a crumb to eat. We were hanging on to life by pure guts, sleeping on top of each other, every morning waking up to find a new corpse next to you."

Bob Crane was sensitive to Clary's ordeal in concentration camps and the Holocaust, just as he was to war veterans, prisoners of war, and active duty forces. Before signing his contract to play the leading role of Colonel Hogan, Bob insisted that a trailer of the series be sent to veterans in the midwest for them to screen. Once they approved the show, claiming without humor, they never would have survived the war, Bob agreed to the role. Bob also spent a great deal of time defending Hogan's Heroes to critics and a wary public, and when reporter Stan Freberg joked, "If you liked World War II, you'll love Hogan's Heroes," he was outwardly disgusted. You can hear it in his voice in the interview below. Bob detested that line, stating repeatedly in interviews that it was in poor taste. 

It doesn't surprise me that Bob Crane shared the TV Guide cover with his Hogan's Heroes co-star Robert Clary. I don't know the details of how this cover originated. I doubt either of the two actors were paid. Typically, promotional photos and interviews were just that—done to promote the show, not as a money-making venture for the actors. In fact, all of the studio Hogan's Heroes promo photographs used in the media and on the trading cards were unpaid photo sessions. 

I'm a nut when it comes to photography, and I'm an avid photographer. I have always loved collecting photos from the set of Hogan's Heroes and of Bob Crane.* Imagine my delight when I stumbled on to the photo session from the 1966 TV Guide cover featuring Bob Crane and Robert Clary!

Bob looked after people. He genuinely cared about his family, friends, coworkers, and even strangers. He always went out of his way to help whenever and wherever he could, often at his own expense, and he didn't seek repayment or recognition. He did it simply because he wanted to—even for people who didn't like him. He would think nothing of lending money or helping people advance in their careers. So however his involvement in Clary's photo shoot for TV Guide came about, whether it was Bob's idea or Clary's or the studio's, it is evident these two had a blast during it.

Below are a few photographs from this session for you to enjoy. All eighteen of these slides— along with prints—will be donated to the Liberty Aviation Museum for inclusion with the Hogan's Heroes display.

*Note: No, not those photographs. Bob's amateur pornography comprised only a small percentage of his entire photo collection. Further, that collection was destroyed several years ago. I saw the trashed shredded photos and films first-hand.

Friday, June 29, 2018

40 Years Later: Rest in Peace, Bob Crane

Forty years ago today. 
June 29, 1978 — Scottsdale, Arizona.
Rest in Peace, Bob Crane. You are missed by many.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Rare Photographs of Bob Crane at KNX-CBS Radio

Not too long ago, I came across a series of photographs of Bob Crane at work behind the mic at KNX-CBS Radio. While these photos aren't dated, I estimate they were taken in the early 1960s, circa 1963/64. 

I'll always love Bob's portrayal of Colonel Hogan on Hogan's Heroes, the role some people say he was born to play. However, I'll always love his radio work more. Bob Crane has been referred to as a radio genius by his colleagues in the broadcasting industry, and very few can compare to his style and technique. From sound effects to celebrity interviews to playing drums to improvising on the spot to preparing skits—without question, he was a force to be reckoned with in radio.

You can hear clips of Bob's radio shows on our YouTube channel, and I encourage you to listen, if you haven't already. And we're always looking for more! So if you have any of his airchecks from WLEA (Hornell, NY); WBIS (Bristol, CT); WLIZ/WICC (Bridgeport, CT); KNX (Hollywood, CA); KMPC (Los Angeles, CA); or any station where he was a guest, please let us know. We want to preserve these recordings and make them available for people to listen. You can reach us through any of our social media sites or via the Contact Us form.

Moving forward, we're going to be ramping up the volume on raising public awareness about his work in radio. So stay tuned!

PS: It's good to be back!

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

There's No Place Like...Stalag 13

Last year, we stepped away from advocating for Bob Crane. It was, by far, one of the most difficult decisions I have ever had to make. I have been working on Bob's behalf for most of my life. Yet as difficult as it was, moving away was necessary at the time. There was a lot going on in my own personal life and in the lives of all affiliated with Bob Crane's biography and our campaign for his induction into the National Radio Hall of Fame. Plus, the ceaseless negativity that surrounds Bob had reached a boiling point. It had taken a toll on all of us.

Breaks are necessary to refuel, recharge, and reset. But where Bob Crane is concerned, I can't stay away for long. Little by little, I started wanting to dive back in, to let the world know Bob's true story and to start bugging the heck out of the National Radio Hall of Fame Steering Committee. It's about time Bob is recognized for all of his unprecedented work in radio.

I've got some exciting things happening in 2018. First, I'll be at the Liberty Aviation Museum for the third year in a row on July 28-29, 2018. As you may know, the Liberty Aviation Museum is the home of the official Hogan's Heroes prop and uniform display, and I'm always happy (okay, thrilled!) to go to Port Clinton, Ohio, each year to sign copies of Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography and give presentations. Then in September, I'll be back at the Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention in Hunt Valley, Maryland. This will be my fourth year attending the convention, and I'll be honest—I love the people who plan the con and those who attend. I've made some wonderful friends there, and the thought of not seeing these folks every year makes me sad—so, of course, I have to go!

Finally, we have a big, collaborative project in the early planning stages. I won't divulge any more than that now, but it's a pretty big deal! I'm super excited for this opportunity, as are Dee Young and Linda Groundwater, who will also be participating. All three of us can't wait to get this project rolling. 

We're back. And we're stronger than ever.

"Be it ever so humble, there's no place like...Stalag 13."

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Website Redesign—And New Direction

Bob Crane: Life & Legacy

We are thrilled to unveil the redesign of our official website (, which has been renamed Bob Crane: Life & Legacy to encompass all aspects of our work. This includes the National Radio Hall of Fame campaign, Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography, and The Bob Crane Show: Reloaded.

However, as we lift the curtain on the new website, the time has come for us to say goodbye.

We have worked hard over the decades on Bob Crane's behalf. And we have accomplished what we set out to do: tell Bob's full and complete story, and provide honest understanding of who he was as a human being. 

This venture has been nothing short of wonderful. In telling Bob's story, we have met and gotten to know some beautiful people—many of whom became like family. We made a difference in re-establishing Bob's real legacy, and brought a bit of joy and peace to his family, friends, colleagues, and fans. We even managed to rescue Hogan's jacket. We've done a lot. So, as they say, our work here is done. 

With the support and unanimous agreement from all involved, I have decided to end our campaign.

The reason behind this decision is as you might suspect. Sadly, the media circus that focuses solely on Bob's murder and scandal has not ceased, and in fact, over the past year, it has intensified. It has taken a toll on each of us. We have tried to provide better balance for Bob, without demonizing him or propelling him to sainthood. But as one network representative told me, "Nobody wants nice. Nobody's going to care about your book. Nobody wants to hear the good stuff. They just want the dirt. That's what sells." And perhaps he's right. Last week, yet another tabloid article surfaced, and it was the last straw. Enough. 

While we believe whole-heartedly in our work on Bob's behalf, we cannot continue fighting the ongoing battle. It's a battle that will never end, and it's wearing us down. There will always be another headline, another gruesome photo of the murder scene, another heartless commentary, another hostile and hateful message sent to one of us.

On behalf of all of us, I thank you for caring about Bob and discovering his whole story. You have made this journey an amazing one. 

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.