Monday, June 14, 2021

Autopsy: The Last Hours of...Bob Crane [Preview of Episode Review]

Autopsy: The Last Hours of... Bob Crane, featuring Linda Groundwater as an expert on Bob Crane's life and coauthor of Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography, premiered last night (Sunday, June 13, 2021). Now that the episode has aired, we have some things to say. 

To recap, Linda did a fantastic job in the episode. She provided some perspective about Bob's life and balanced out some of the negative stuff. Kudos to Linda! TV interviews are tough, and she was brilliant.

Autopsy got a lot of things right, and for that (as well as the scientific nature of the program), it was one of the more evidence-based shows that Reelz typically produces. 

But Autopsy also got some things wrong, and those parts need clarification and addressing.

Mind you, just because we don't like to focus on Bob's murder and sex addiction in our work about him, it most certainly does not mean we don't know the details about it or thoroughly understand it.

We'll be discussing all of this in our next episode of Flipside: The True Story of Bob Crane. Stay tuned.


Sunday, June 6, 2021

Autopsy: The Last Hours of... Bob Crane [Reelz Network; June 13, 2021]

Autopsy: The Last Hours of... Bob Crane
Date: Sunday, June 13, 2021
Time: 9:00 p.m. EDT
Featuring: Linda J. Groundwater, co-author of Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography and official Bob Crane co-biographer

On June 13, 2021, Autopsy: The Last Hours of... with Dr. Michael Hunter, will show the episode delving into the life and death of Bob Crane. Although we all know how Bob died, a bit of insight into his life and his struggles and successes would help give a bit of a fuller picture. The English production team interviewed Linda Groundwater in Australia as part of the larger program last November, and Linda spent a bit of time dispelling myths and correcting long held false information.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

'Hogan's Heroes' Revue — A New Podcast

It should come as no surprise that in Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography, the chapter focusing exclusively on Bob Crane's work on Hogan's Heroes is over 100 pages in length. Although Bob was hailed as a radio genius by those who worked with him in the broadcasting industry, Hogan's Heroes put him on the international stage. After its initial success and six-season run, Hogan's Heroes made Bob Crane and the rest of the cast super stars of their day.

When researching Bob Crane's life, we talked with as many people from his life as we could, and this included many prominent individuals from Hogan's Heroes—co-creator Albert S. Ruddy; cast members Robert Clary and Cynthia Lynn; guest stars Arlene Martel, Robert Hogan, Victoria Carroll, Jon Cedar, and Ruta Lee, among others; and directors, including Bruce Bilson, Robert Butler, and Jerry London. We also researched countless published contemporary articles about Hogan's Heroes and the cast, and had exclusive access to Bob Crane's own Hogan's Heroes scrapbooks and files.

Combine all of that research with the fact that we love Hogan's Heroes, and you've got the groundwork for another podcast.

Linda Groundwater, Dee Young, and I currently produce Flipside: The True Story of Bob Crane. But we wanted more. (We can't help it if we're greedy...!) And a podcast about Hogan's Heroes was begging to be produced. So we have launched a second podcast, 'Hogan's Heroes' Revue, where Linda and I will talk about each episode, starting with the pilot; include details from series insiders; and produce some of what is considered the best Hogan's Heroes fan fiction out there.

There's also a reason why we named it 'Hogan's Heroes' Revue, but you'll have to listen to our preview episode to find out!


Listen to "01. Preview of 'Hogan's Heroes' Revue" on Spreaker.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Bob Crane's 1978 Appearance on 'Celebrity Cooks' [Podcast]

It's so fantastic and extraordinary, it's become urban legend when discussing the final months of Bob Crane's life.

Celebrity goes on a national Canadian TV cooking show; breaks down; falls apart; rants about death, sex, and his impending divorce; is brought to tears; and shocks the studio audience. A station network executive pulls the episode from syndication following celebrity's murder because of an eerie sense of deja vu and premonition of the crime, as well as celebrity's depressed state and inability to stop talking about death and sex during the show's taping.

Such is the case with Bob's appearance on the Canadian television series, Celebrity Cooks

Or is it?

Bruno Gerussi and Bob Crane on Celebrity Cooks, January 25, 1978.
Photograph by Ron Goldman.

While researching Bob's life for Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography, Linda Groundwater and I talked with three people directly affiliated with Celebrity Cooks: owner Derek Smith, talent agent Anne Kear, and stage manager Roger Packer. A fourth person connected with the series, photographer Ron Goldman, also provided a statement. All four were present on the day of Bob's episode taping, and all four emphatically agree—everything we thought we knew about Bob Crane's appearance on Celebrity Cooks, as based on a 1978 magazine article, referenced in Robert Graysmith's book The Murder of Bob Crane, and depicted in Auto Focus, is wrong.

In our latest episode of Flipside: The True Story of Bob Crane, Linda and I discuss Bob's appearance on Celebrity Cooks. We take apart the 1978 article that started the whole myth, and we provide answers from Celebrity Cooks as well. It will never cease to amaze Linda, me, or the folks from Celebrity Cooks that this brief moment of Bob's life, which is held up as an example of his life falling apart, never actually happened.

Listen to "09. Bob Crane’s 1978 Appearance on 'Celebrity Cooks'" on Spreaker.

For an earlier post about Bob Crane's appearance on 'Celebrity Cooks,' click here.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Becoming Colonel Hogan

Let's be honest. Bob Crane's German accent on Hogan's Heroes was pretty bad. In fact, it was terrible. It seemed everyone on the series could perform a decent (or in some cases, exceptional) German accent except for Bob. Larry Hovis (Sgt. Andrew Carter) was so good at it, in fact, that he could pull off a convincing—and a bit frightening—Adolph Hitler. 

But where others excelled, Bob seemed to fail. To some, it may even be a bit painful to hear him fumble a German accent with American accent overtones. Had this been real life, the Germans would have caught him in a New York minute.

Yet Bob was a gifted voice impersonator, having honed the skill in radio for fifteen years. In Hollywood, he was hailed as radio's "Man of a Thousand Voices" by KNX. He worked with Mel Blanc on a pilot for a new radio program, Superfun. And one of his first television "roles" was as the uncredited voice announcer in The Twilight Zone episode "Static," where he provides all of the voices on the radio.

It begs the question: If Bob Crane could perform all sorts of accents on his radio program, from a French fashion designer to race car driver Andy Granatelli, to an Einstein-sounding engineer, to a love-struck Russian, to a host of other "character" voices, then why could he not perform a decent (or even passable) German accent on Hogan's Heroes?

Simply, he was told—directed—to do it poorly. The directors thought it would be funny. "He wasn't supposed to do it well!" director and associate producer Jerry London told Linda Groundwater and me in our interview for Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography. "That was the comedy of it!" he said.

Linda and I discuss this in our latest episode of our podcast, Flipside: The True Story of Bob Crane. Bob didn't just become Colonel Hogan overnight. He was still quite inexperienced as an actor at the start of the series. This doesn't make him a bad actor, though. 

Early on his acting career, which consisted of community "little" theatre, guest-starring roles on The Alfred Hitchcock Hour and The Twilight Zone, his big break on The Dick Van Dyke Show, and eventually, the regular role of Dr. Dave Kelsey on The Donna Reed Show, Bob made a decision to take acting seriously. He accepted coaching advice from Donna Reed, and in addition, at her suggestion, he took a course taught by legendary acting instructor Stella Adler. 

While the Hogan's Heroes directors and producers, and viewers of the series in its original run by extension, may have thought Bob Crane doing a botched German accent was funny at the time, it unfortunately does not age well. Viewers today watch and think Bob couldn't act, or worse, didn't care to learn how to act. This wasn't the case. He was following direction. And when a director tells you to do something, you do it. 

Indeed, Bob was learning. He came a long way on Hogan's Heroes. People learn throughout their entire lives, and the same was true for Bob. He continued to learn and hone the craft until the time of his murder in 1978. Many actors who worked with him believe he would have had found another hit series and enjoyed continued success as an actor and/or director had he lived.

In the end, Hogan's Heroes is a television show. We're supposed to suspend our belief and understand that no matter whether the German accent was good or bad, all of the heroes are speaking fluent, flawless German. Otherwise, they would have likely failed their first mission, right out of the gate. 

Listen to "08. Becoming Colonel Hogan" on Spreaker.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Bob Crane Biographers Carol Ford, Linda Groundwater Interviewed on 'The Claw's Corner'

It is always an honor to share Bob Crane's life story. There is always a lot to tell. Bob's life was full, and rich, and detailed, and sometimes, complicated. Like every human being, he had his joys and sorrows, his triumphs and set-backs, and his highs and lows. To tell his story properly and in the right context takes time. Occasionally, if the host agrees, we provide a thorough interview that can last several hours. 

My very first presentation about Bob Crane was in 2015 at the MidAtlantic Nostalgia Convention, and it was supposed to be one hour. I went on for about an hour and a half, and talking at the speed of light at the end! While my audience didn't seem to mind, the hotel staff who wanted to flip the room for the next event weren't too thrilled. 

On January 30 and 31, 2021, Linda Groundwater and I were interviewed about Bob Crane by Richard Cyr, host of The Claw's Corner. We always go into these interviews thinking, "Will we have more than an hour?" Because there's so much to say! Well, Linda and I provided Rich with four solid hours of our time. We loved it—because we love talking about Bob Crane.

In our book, Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography, we provide rich details of Bob as told to us, in most cases exclusively, by more than two hundred prominent individuals from his life. Our book and all of our work attempt to remove judgment and stigma, allowing for perspective, understanding, and ultimately, clarity about Bob Crane, the human being. He was more than a murder victim. He should not be a target of ridicule. We don't paint him out as a saint, and we don't demonize him. We provide truth. And because we care so much about Bob and his family, friends, and colleagues, we talk about him properly—every chance we get.

Below is our two-part episode of The Claw's Corner. I hope you enjoy it! (And be sure to watch for the cameo by Cinnamon, Linda's energetic, happy-go-lucky puppy dog!) 

The Claw's Corner With Guests Carol Ford and Linda Groundwater Part 1

The Claw's Corner With Guests Carol Ford and Linda Groundwater Part 2

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Bob Crane — U.S. Armed Forces Radio Network (1968) [New Find!]

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I love it when I find new airchecks of Bob Crane's Radio Show. It's like a treasure hunt for me. They are so rare, and when they do surface, I'm giddy with excitement—like a kid at Christmas. I don't know what Bob will say, but I know I will be entertained. I might even learn something new.

My latest find was Part 2 of a show Bob recorded for the U.S. Armed Forces Radio and Television Network (AFRTN). Between 1967-1969, Bob recorded numerous shows for the AFRTN, during which he played songs, did some drumming, jibber-jabbered with his own pre-recorded voice impersonations, and interviewed guests or spliced in his pre-aired celebrity interviews from his time at KNX-CBS Radio. Many of these AFRTN recordings exist; however, they are incredibly difficult to find. 

Bob donated a lot of his time and broadcasting talents for many different charities, something for which he is given little to no credit. In October 1967, the following was published in the Valley News publication (Van Nuys, California) about his charity work:

Hogan’s Heroes own Colonel Hogan, Bob Crane, is one man who answers the call of civic groups, charities, and worthy organizations, no matter where they might be. Up to one-third of his free time is spent assisting and appearing in behalf of such groups. For instance, during his recent “HH” hiatus, he volunteered more than thirteen hours worth of Armed Forces Radio material. He brought laughs to the ex-POW convention in New Mexico. Pending is a grand marshal stint at the Richmond Tobacco Festival and full participation in the current Cystic Fibrosis Drive. And there’s more, much more. This “Hogan” is a real hero.

Think about that. One-third of his free time was donated to charity, which included United Cerebral Palsy, American Heart Association, the Arthritis Foundation, Funds for Dinah (a fund-raiser for an eleven-year-old Ohio girl with kidney disease who needed dialysis, but whose family could not afford the lengthy car trips to the dialysis clinic from their rural home), Operation Entertainment, entertaining U.S. veterans and former prisoners of war, public service announcements, and the list goes on.

In this recording, Bob includes his pre-recorded interviews with Otto Preminger, Bill Dana, Steve Allen, and Jayne Meadows, all of which originally aired on KNX in the early 1960s. 

I hope you enjoy our latest find! And don't worry—I'm always on the look out for more!