Monday, August 19, 2019

Flipside: The True Story of Bob Crane — Preview Episode

We're thrilled to announce that our preview episode of Flipside: The True Story of Bob Crane is now available! Everything is currently configuring to Apple Podcasts (iTunes), GooglePlay, Spotify, TuneIn Radio, Stitcher, YouTube, and other various podcast delivery services. Once the podcast has been distributed, you'll be able to subscribe on all platforms. In the meantime, sit back, relax, and enjoy our preview episode!

Listen to "01. Preview of 'Flipside: The True Story of Bob Crane'" on Spreaker.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Author Interviews About Bob Crane | Magic 95.9 Radio

Earlier this year, Linda Groundwater and I were interviewed twice about Bob Crane for radio station Magic 95.9 by host Bill Benjamin. Part I was recorded on May 24, 2019, and aired on Friday, June 7, 2019. Part II was recorded on July 12, 2019, and aired on Friday, July 26, 2019. Both interviews are available to listen to below. Enjoy!


Saturday, August 3, 2019

Liberty Aviation Museum — Bob Crane Biography | July 27-28, 2019

On July 27-28, 2019, I was once again the invited guest of the Liberty Aviation Museum in Port Clinton, Ohio, for an author event. While there, I signed copies of Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography and gave two hour-long presentations about Bob Crane and his life and career.

The Liberty Aviation Museum is the official home of the only authentic Hogan's Heroes props and costumes/uniforms display. They began the Hogan's Heroes collection in 2015, and ever since, they have been adding to the display. As you can see, it's quite crowded in the display case! Eventually, they are planning to build a larger display, with a barracks theme. 


Visiting the Liberty Aviation Museum is always a highlight for me, and it invigorates me. Not only do I adore the owner and his family, and management and staff of the museum, but I also love connecting with fans of Hogan's Heroes and Bob Crane, and I enjoy observing them study the display and quote lines from the show. Even more, I love listening to them reminisce about watching the series with a family member, usually their father or grandfather, and how Hogan's Heroes brings back such happy memories for them. Not only do I love meeting new fans, but I love reconnecting with friends, some of whom travel great distances to the museum just to stop in and say hi (and give hugs!).

There are a few naysayers. I say, bring 'em on! One gentleman insisted that he had "read everything there is about Bob Crane," and thus, he knew all about him. I simply asked, "Have you read my book?" And he said, "No, no. But believe me, I've read everything about Bob Crane, and I already know all about him."

Newsflash: If you haven't read Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography, then you haven't read everything there is about Bob Crane, and as a result, I can guarantee you don't know everything about him.

I don't blame people for thinking this way, and I'm not angry. Although I confess that I do become a little frustrated. Auto Focus force-fed an incorrect, fictionalized version of Bob to the public, and between that and all of the true crime shows and podcasts, it's really all people know about Bob Crane. It's even more frustrating knowing that Auto Focus director Paul Schrader did it all on purpose. Schrader told the New York Times, "You know, [John] Carpenter was not as important in Crane's life as he is in the film. It is a distortion...  My intent with Auto Focus is not to be true or definitive. People's actual lives are not really that interesting. And with Crane I wanted to get at something meaty. Otherwise, who cares?" You can read more about that here.

But I digress.

Simply put, if you only know Bob Crane through Auto Focus and the like, then you don't know Bob Crane at all. 

And I, along with my coauthors and friends Dee Young and Linda Groundwater, work hard at keeping his memory alive. We have a new podcast in the works (Flipside: The True Story of Bob Crane), we are interviewed about Bob and our work on his behalf, and we continue to spearhead the campaign for his induction into the National Radio Hall of Fame. No, we aren't done yet. Not even close. And with the complete support of Bob Crane's family and friends, we will keep going—for as long as it takes.



If you haven't visited the Liberty Aviation Museum, and especially if you're a Hogan's Heroes fan, you should. In addition, all copies of Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography are sold in the museum's gift shop year-round, and all author proceeds on Bob's biography sold through the museum are donated to the museum.

In closing, I'll share with you what I call my Jurassic Park moment. I'm just a kid from New Jersey. I work hard, and I just figure that's what matters. So when I first visited the Liberty Aviation Museum in June 2016, I was thrilled to see Bob's custom-made Hogan A-2 jacket and his whole uniform, along with the rest of the costumes/uniforms worn by Werner Klemperer and John Banner. But the Jurassic Park moment came when the CEO drove me past the museum's marquis sign out by the highway. I wasn't paying attention and probably doing something on my phone, when the CEO literally turned my head to the left so I could see the museum's marquis sign. And I was floored. There was the book's cover, lit up against the sky! Of course, I didn't stand up through a safari Jeep, but my jaw did hit the ground and my eyes were wide with amazement!


I love everyone at the Liberty Aviation Museum. They are all very dear to me, and the museum is a home away from home for me (and now also members of my family!). I consider them all family. Liberty Aviation Museum is open year-round, and I usually visit for my author events in the summer. Hogan's Heroes fans, put the Liberty Aviation Museum on your Bucket List! And in addition to the ever-growing Hogan's Heroes display, the museum boasts two hangars full of military vehicles and airplanes and provides a living history. It is also home to one of the coolest 1950s diners in the country—the Tin Goose Diner. And at the very least, check out their website and support them by purchasing an item or making a donation. They are doing amazing work, and it's such an honor for me to know them and be part of their extended, surrogate family.

Thank you to everyone at the Liberty Aviation Museum for another spectacular event! See you next year!


Saturday, July 13, 2019

Happy Birthday, Bob Crane!


Bob Crane was born on July 13, 1928, and today, he would have been 91 years old. To celebrate, we're hosting a birthday bash! To enter, all you have to do is hop on over to our Facebook page and wish Bob a happy birthday! One person will be randomly selected to win:
  • A copy of Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography autographed by Linda Groundwater, Dee Young, and me!
  • The complete Hogan's Heroes box set (delivered to you direct from Amazon, with Prime shipping).
  • The Hogan's Heroes mug as shown in the photo, which is otherwise only available at my table in the vendor hall during the Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention (September 12-14, 2019; Hunt Valley, MD).
One lucky winner will be announced before midnight EDT on Monday, July 15, 2019, so be sure to Like our Facebook page while you're there, too!

Happy Birthday, Bob Crane!
—Carol Ford

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Flipside: The True Story of Bob Crane — A New Podcast!


We are thrilled to announce our latest endeavor, a new podcast! Flipside: The True Story of Bob Crane will feature authors Carol M. Ford, Linda J. Groundwater, and Dee Young. 

Linda, Dee, and Carol will delve into their experiences of researching Bob Crane for Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography, discuss their findings chapter by chapter, and share behind-the-scenes details of their journey to discovering Bob’s complete life story from those who knew him better than most.

If you think you know Bob Crane from what you've heard or read in the headlines, think again. You're about to find out the real story about the Hogan's Heroes star.

Premiering Summer 2019.

© Carol M. Ford, Linda J. Groundwater, and Dee Young. All rights reserved.

Media inquiries and interview requests, please contact us via our Contact Form (tab above). 

Friday, April 5, 2019

Tribute to Johnny Thompson — The Great Tomsoni

In April 2013, I was in Las Vegas for a business meeting being held at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino. The hotel is situated just off of the Vegas Strip, and what it lacks in walking proximity to other casinos and attractions, it makes up for with its own spectacular events, including Penn & Teller's magic show. Three of my work friends and I had obtained tickets to Penn & Teller's show, and not only were we attending the show, but we were attending as VIPs. This was entirely thanks to Johnny Thompson, who made sure we were well taken care of.

Johnny Thompson and his wife, Pamela Hayes, maintained a long, successful career in the entertainment industry. What many people may not have realized up until March of this year is that John was not just a magician, he was the Magician's Magician, serving with Pam as magic consultant to acclaimed magician notables, including Penn & Teller and Criss Angel. Performing as The Great Tomsoni & Co., Johnny and Pam have been hailed as two of the greatest magicians of all time. In fact, Johnny also inspired the neuroscience community, prompting "investigators, to conduct research into the neuroscientific bases of magic." He even co-wrote an academic paper on the subject.

Last week, I learned through Bob Crane's son Scott that Johnny passed away on March 9, 2019, at the age of 84. He had suffered complications from respiratory failure after collapsing during a rehearsal on February 25, 2019. His passing was covered by many major news outlets, including Variety and The New York Times. Scott was devastated by the news, having just talked with John and Pam in February of this year. I, too, was stunned and saddened. John and Pam, like so many from Bob's life, are kind, generous, and caring people. Sadly, one by one, these beautiful and important people who knew and loved Bob are leaving this world. And now, with the loss of Johnny Thompson, another bright light has been extinguished.

Meeting John and Pam while I was in Las Vegas was an honor and a memorable experience. John and Pam were jolly, the perfect hosts, and full of life. When I first met them in the casino lounge in the hotel, I noticed that Pam even carried her sweet little dogs in her purse with her, and as we sat down to talk for awhile, they both reiterated their utmost appreciation to me for what my coauthors and I were trying to do — set the record straight for their dear friend, Bob Crane.

A few years earlier, in late summer 2009, Linda Groundwater and I conducted two lengthy, in-depth interviews with John and Pam as part of our extensive, and often exclusive, research for Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography. They were eager to talk with us, and their conversation was informative, witty, and at times, hilariously funny! They bantered back and forth with each other, all while giving us a rich history of their friendship with Bob Crane.

Johnny and Pam Thompson, with Bob Crane,
in Beginner's Luck (circa 1976).
John and Pam were also adamant when they told us the public has it all wrong about Bob Crane. Thanks to media sensationalism, combined with misinformation and lack of perspective, Johnny and Pam wanted people to know the truth. They were on board with us all the way, and they made sure we knew how much they appreciated our efforts on Bob's behalf.

Pam, who costarred with Bob on stage in Beginner's Luck and Send Me No Flowers, as well as in an episode of NBC's The Bob Crane Show, told us: "We're hoping to put this right. I really believe what they did in [AutoFocus] was make him look as though he were a sleazy guy, and that's the last thing he was. He was really a gentleman. The sensationalism people go after is just unconscionable."

Bob and John met in early 1970, during Bob Crane's first run of Beginner's Luck at the Drury Lane Theatre in Chicago. At that time, John was performing in a show in Chicago called the Lewis and Christie Show. While in Chicago for Beginner's Luck, Bob and his-then future wife, Patricia Olson (Sigrid Valdis), went to see the Lewis and Christie Show. According to John, Bob and Patty "fell in love with the show and came back several nights." Bob and Patty enjoyed the performance so much that they invited John over to see Beginner’s Luck on its closing night.

John recalled to Linda and me: "Meeting Bob at that time was really wonderful because it started a great relationship between the two of us." They became such good friends, in fact, that in 1973, Bob asked John if he would accept a role in Beginner's Luck. John agreed, taking the role also played by Bernard Fox (who Hogan's Heroes fans will remember as Colonel Crittendon).

Bob Crane with Pamela Hayes Thompson
in Beginner's Luck (circa 1976).
In the early 1970s, Bob played matchmaker for Johnny and Pam, and the couple soon married—and stayed devoted to each other ever since. The Thompsons maintained a close friendship with Bob and Patty, and their son Scott, throughout the 1970s. They continued to costar with him in Beginner's Luck over the years as often as their schedule allowed.

John remarked to us how Bob and Pam had terrific stage chemistry together, stating: "They had a chemistry that I can say is akin to Mary Tyler Moore and Dick Van Dyke. It was a great, great on-stage relationship. Both Bob and I kind of trained Pam in timing in both physical comedy as well as timing in lines. And the three of us really did work well together. It really was a great balance. And so was Bernard [Fox]. Bernard was equally as brilliant."

Pam went on to explain to us in one of our interviews: "I don’t remember ever, ever fighting about anything. I was so overwhelmed, so young. And [Bob] taught me so much. I’m still working today at this horrendous age, and it’s because of him. He’s taught me so much timing. And then when John would do the show, I could keep up with them both because I listened. That was my learning time, and [Bob] taught me so much."

There are some fascinating and very little known facts about Johnny Thompson and his connection to Hogan's Heroes.

First, although Hogan's Heroes was cancelled after season six, the series was supposed to have gone on for one more year, for a total of seven seasons. During the sixth season, John Banner's health was failing. Not knowing the show was going to end, Bob began seeking a successor to Sergeant Schultz. This person would not play Schultz (really, nobody else could pull that off except John Banner!). But rather, the actor would play a different guard, taking Schultz's place. The person Bob had in mind was Johnny Thompson. But because the series was cancelled and didn't go the extra season, looking for someone to carry on if John Banner couldn't became a non-issue.

Second, following the cancellation of Hogan's Heroes, Bob wrote an ending to the series. This was to have been a variety show set in the months following the end of World War 2. Werner Klemperer and Robert Clary were on board—Klink was Hogan's business manager and LeBeau was going to perform as a singer. Bob, of course, was all set to play drums. Rounding out the cast was Johnny Thompson, who was going perform his magic act. The show, Hogan's Heroes Revue, was going to be performed in Las Vegas, but it never made it to the stage because Bob didn't agree with what he considered shady business on part of the hotel.

But I can't give everything away! For all of the details, read Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography.



Bob's murder on June 29, 1978, came as a cruel shock to John and Pam. They were so distraught, in fact, that they blamed themselves. They explained to Linda and me that they were unable to go with Bob to Scottsdale, Arizona, and perform in that fateful June 1978 production of Beginner's Luck. They had to turn Bob down because they were already booked for another venue. Following his murder, they felt deep guilt for not being there for him during that time, and it was something they carried with them all these years. They always wondered if—had they been there—maybe they could have looked out for Bob, and maybe he wouldn't have been murdered that night. They believed that perhaps, had they been there, they could have steered him away from the danger that ultimately took his life.

Carol Ford (center) and her friends from work,
meeting Teller, courtesy of Johnny Thompson.
During our interviews, and then on and off over the next few years, Johnny and Pam shared details about their friendship with Bob, all of which is contained in Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography. They expressed such happiness and joy repeatedly about what we were doing for Bob. In many ways, what we do for Bob isn't just for Bob, but also for all who knew and loved him.

And indeed, Johnny and Pam Thompson loved Bob Crane. They respected him as a colleague and understood him as a friend. As friends, John and Pam were as loyal to Bob as friends could get. They didn't always see him every day, and they could go for stretches without seeing or hearing from each other at all. But both sides knew that all they had to do was reach out—to pick up the phone or send a note—and they would be there for each other—as true friends do.

Rest in peace, Johnny Thompson, The Great Tomsoni. Your magician's wand may be broken, but your legacy, memory, and spirit will live forever.

Carol Ford with Johnny and Pam Thompson.
Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino | April 29, 2013.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Sample National Radio Hall of Fame Nomination for Bob Crane


Interested in nominating Bob Crane for the National Radio Hall of Fame but unsure of what to say? We're here to help! Below is a sample template that you can use to submit your nomination for Bob. The information below is based on extensive, corroborated research and is published in Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography. Feel free to use any of this information below in your nomination for Bob Crane.



Name of Personality:
Bob Crane

Radio Program or Name:
The Bob Crane Show

Brief Bio of Personality:
Sample Bio:
Bob Crane was born in Waterbury, CT, on July 13, 1928, and grew up in Stamford, CT. After graduating from high school in 1946, Bob joined the National Guard. He started playing drums at 10 years of age, and his love of music and drums led him to pursue a career in radio. In 1950, he gave up a steady job as a clerk at a jewelry store to pursue his dream of a radio career. His first radio job was at WLEA in Hornell, NY. In 1951, Bob returned to CT when he landed a job at WBIS in Bristol. His career skyrocketed when, after three months at WBIS, he moved to Bridgeport, CT, to work first for WLIZ and then WICC, where he held the morning time slot for his entire tenure. He was called out to Hollywood in 1956, when he started at KNX-CBS Radio, where he stayed for nine years, leaving in 1965 after he landed the role of Colonel Hogan on Hogan's Heroes. Despite his success as an actor, Bob stayed close to radio, and in the 1970s, he did part-time work at KMPC. He also guest-hosted radio programs across the country.

During his early radio career, Bob began experimenting with sound effects. From there, he graduated to voice impersonations – some famous, some not – and he soon became known as the “Man of a Thousand Voices.” All of these gimmicks, as Bob called them, were interwoven into his radio show, and most of the time, in with commercials, which was unprecedented. By the time he reached KNX, advertisers were paying top dollar for airtime during “The Bob Crane Show,” simply because he could get people to stay put, pay attention to, and actually enjoy the commercials.

Also central to Bob Crane’s radio show was his drumming. Wherever Bob went, his drums went with him, and he incorporated his musicianship into his radio program. When playing a record over the air, he could often not resist the urge to play his drums along with it. Further, Bob was an exceptional interviewer, which earned him a coveted place with many celebrities. While at KNX, Bob interviewed more than 3,000 individuals from September 13, 1956, to August 16, 1965.

On June 29, 1978, Bob was murdered in Scottsdale, AZ, while he slept. The crime has never been officially solved. The investigation revealed Bob’s alternate lifestyle, which included consensual sex and amateur pornography with numerous consensual women. Shortly before his death, however, he had admitted to a counselor that he realized he was a sexual addict and wanted to be healed. His counselor described Bob as a “tremendous talent;” someone who “just happened to be famous;” was a “wonderful, wonderful person;” “caring, sensitive, and somewhat shy;” and with “weaknesses and foibles like the rest of us.”

Submitted by:
Your Name

Industry Affiliation:
If you work in radio, please include your credentials and station. Please consider officially endorsing Bob Crane's nomination, and encourage your station to endorse his nomination as well.

Don't work in radio? Don't sweat it! Simply explain that you are a fan and have listened to Bob Crane's radio work (much of it is available on our Sound Cloud and YouTub Channels — Click the buttons above). Briefly explain what you like about Bob's radio work. As a fan, you also have a voice, and it should be and can be heard!

Email Address:
Your Email Address

Phone:
Your Phone Number

Click "Submit"


Thank you for supporting a broadcasting legend!