Saturday, October 18, 2014

Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography - Author's Update

Just a quick update on Bob Crane's new biography. I continue to make great progress with writing and reviewing page proofs, and my colleagues and I are still on target for a summer 2015 publication release date. 

People remember Bob Crane for his work on Hogan's Heroes, for his murder, and for the sex scandal that erupted immediately following his death. There is no denying that Bob had an addiction. And that is exactly what it was. An addiction.

Regardless of how he appeared on the outside during his sexual prowess and conquests, inside, he was feeling something much different. Pages and pages and pages of testimony from the pastor and addiction counselor who was counseling Bob at the time of his murder in June 1978 reveal a man who was terribly ashamed of his behavior and who wanted desperately to change. His was a powerful addiction, with its grasp reaching as far back as the early 1950s in Connecticut.

Bob knew he was addicted. He was suffering personally and professionally because of it. He wanted to change. He confided these deep, innermost thoughts and feelings to only two addiction counselors. He did not share these things with his family or his friends. It was his own private battle, and he did not want the people he cared about to know. He was ashamed.

In addition to a rich and detailed accounting of Bob's entire life, Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography will provide a thorough and deep understanding of his recognition of his addiction and his strong desire to break free of it and overcome it. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

An Open Statement from Karen Crane on Robin Williams and His Children

Karen Crane, daughter of Bob Crane, has responded to the tragic death of Robin Williams, the family he leaves behind (specifically his children), and those who malign others in public. The Crane family has born the brunt of public harassment and ridicule for decades following Bob's 1978 murder. In light of Robin Williams' death and in response to the hostility shown toward Robin's daughter Zelda via social media, Karen has openly stated the following:

"I saw this tonight and couldn't stop crying. I've been worried about his children, specifically his daughter, and then I see this. And I WISH that I couldn't relate, but I do. The sudden tragic death of a well-loved public figure, no matter whose hands caused it, as in my dad's murder or Robin Williams' suicide ~ It's the family who's left to dodge the verbal bullets, and it's not fair! I know because I've lived it, and I relate to how abusive the public can be, voicing their cutting opinions about a man, my father or HER father, whom they never met, and all while they sit safely at their computers behind locked doors. But even more unnerving is when they have the balls (sorry) to actually say it to my face. My dad's faults became public, but it never changed the fact that I love him, and he'll always be my dad. And I'd bet that Robin's daughter was close with her dad, too. My life's nightmare may finally get some rest after unloading it on paper, but this poor girl's nightmare is just beginning." 
~Karen Crane

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Be Kinder than Necessary... Rest in Peace, Robin Williams

From the
Hollywood Walk of Fame Facebook Page
Robin Williams ~ December 12, 1990
Today, I - like most of the world - am still reeling from the news that Robin Williams is gone. I have adored Robin Williams since I was a little girl, growing up in the 1970s and 1980s. There are so many favorite moments from film and TV, I could not name them all. But one film that always touched me deeply was Hook. I am not sure why, I just always held that film close to my heart.

In my own mind, I have often compared the talents of Bob Crane and Robin Williams. Both extraordinary men. Extraordinary entertainers. Perhaps because when watching Good Morning Vietnam, I see a lot of Bob Crane's KNX radio show. I see that wild and crazy radio man doing wild and crazy things, bowing to no one in the industry to perform his radio show his way. A little known fact is that Bob Crane also entertained our U.S. troops, both in person and via the U.S. Armed Forces Radio Network. Bob was a proud American, and he supported our troops.

Robin Williams and Bob Crane were also both kind. They had loving families. They had adoring children. Then had wonderful friends. They had respected colleagues. They cared. They were generous, both giving graciously of their time and money to charity.

They also both suffered their own personal demons. One was murdered. The other took his own life. Both are heartbreaking tragedies.

In the coming weeks, people will judge Robin Williams. The media will dissect him from birth to death. Curious, the public will watch with impending anticipation whatever glimpses into his death the media can - and probably will - be allowed to show. His depression and the addiction that fueled it will be scrutinized. He will be analyzed from one arm chair psychologist to another, until just when you think you might have heard the end of it, there will be another report. Another analysis. Another photo. Another theory.

Personally, I don't know how people in the public eye can do it. Today we live in a world where not only do public figures have to deal with negative criticism of their latest movie, book, TV show, album, political campaign, or whatever, but they have to see the hateful banter of the Cyber Bully. We all know him or her. We all have seen the Cyber Bully. Some fight back. Some ignore. Either way, the Cyber Bully is vicious, cruel, and hateful. Before social media, if we didn't like a book or a film, we told our friends. Now we tell the world. And some people say it in such a way that no matter who you are, no matter how successful or popular, it is crippling.

That Robin Williams committed suicide makes me incredibly sad on levels I cannot begin to explain. What happened in the final hours of his life to make him think that nobody cared? He did not wake up yesterday saying, "You know what, world? I'm done. Today, I'm leaving you." No. Something happened. A trigger. A moment that turned his entire life upside down and he said, "Enough." When I envision what those final hours might have been like, I cannot help but get a lump in my throat.

A billion people today are mourning his loss, showering him with tributes and beautiful sentiments, crying, remembering, shaking their heads. And yet, he thought he had nobody.


How can this be?

He was so successful. So popular. So energetic. Gave joy to millions. Adored his fans. Gave so many people a reason to smile.

And he thought he had nobody.

Because, at the crux of it, Robin Williams was human. He was not a genie. He was not a boy child. He was not a school teacher. He was not a doctor. He was an actor with outstanding talent who portrayed these characters. But that was his job. He showed up for work and did his job, and he did it extremely well.

But he was human. He was not perfect. And when addiction takes hold, it does not matter if you are Robin Williams or Bob Crane or your neighbor or your brother or your friend or quite possibly you. It takes you and pushes you right to the edge. Sometimes, it wins.

Let us not judge Robin William, Bob Crane, or anyone for their weaknesses. Addiction can happen to anyone, rich or poor, famous or not.

Robin Williams left us with a big hole in our hearts. May his final lesson be to "be kinder than necessary, for everyone is fighting some kind of battle."

Most of the time, we just don't know it.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
No matter what problems you are dealing with, we want to help you find a reason to keep living. By calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255) you’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, anytime 24/7.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Remembering Bob Crane on the Anniversary of His Passing


Today marks yet another passing of the anniversary of Bob Crane's untimely death. And once more, we remember Bob on this day humbly and with kindness, the way he deserves to be remembered.

Sadly, not all people are so kind. All people know about Bob Crane is from the film Auto Focus, and it is all they have been allowed to know. Some say that he got what he had coming to him. That he deserved it. That he was even the cause of it. 

I cannot and will not agree with such callous and unthoughtful remarks. A lot of people suffer from an addiction, and they seek professional help, just as Bob had been doing. A lot of them come clean. Bob was unfortunate in that he was never given the chance to see it through. Someone else chose to end his life. Bob did not ask to be murdered.

People don't choose to become addicted. Addiction is an illness. Those who suffer from addiction didn't wake up one morning and say, "Gee, today's the day I'm going to become an addict. Yeah, let's go!" No. It happens quietly, slowly, painfully over time. Like the frog in the pot of water on the stove that is gradually coming to a boil. The frog doesn't know he's being cooked, no more than those who suffer from addiction don't know they are addicted until they are. 

We are so quick as a society to judge others today that we forget that every person is fighting some kind of battle. Nobody is perfect. And in Bob's case, he not only did not deserve to die the way he did, but he also does not deserve the ongoing ridicule and humiliation brought on by the media and the film Auto Focus. He was a human being, and that simple fact is so often forgotten. 

It is very important to understand that Bob had recognized and acknowledged his troubles, himself calling it an addiction. He was very serious about his commitment to change and sought professional guidance to do so. He just was never given the opportunity to see it through. 

We have spoken with approximately 200 people who knew Bob Crane personally, many better than most, for the purposes of Bob's new biography I am writing, Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography. Their recollections and testimonies of Bob are vastly different than how he was portrayed in the film Auto Focus. These individuals denounce and shame Auto Focus, saying it is nothing at all as how they remember Bob. This film was produced to shock and awe with scandal and salacious hype rather than to shed light on Bob as an individual. Much of what is seen in the film is either sensationalized or simply not true. Bob may have had his troubles, but this film completely demonizes him. I say again - he was neither a devil nor a saint. He was a human being. 

As you know, I have been working on Bob Crane's biography for quite some time now. I am thrilled to tell you that I will be signing with a national publisher very shortly. This has been a long time coming, and it was a decision that I did not ever want to take lightly. Most publishers are demanding of their authors, and in the trade market, they will insist on a large percentage of such a book containing some sort of scandal before they will even consider it. This will not be the case with my publisher. 

I like my publisher for a great many reasons, but at the top of the list is that he will not alter the content. He sees the book's merits and understands its importance. He will work with me as an invested partner in this endeavor to publish this biography the way it should be and to do justice to Bob. I could not be happier! 

The target release date for the book is July 13, 2015 (Bob's birthday), and 2015 also coincides with the 50th Anniversary of Hogan's Heroes. This book would not be happening without the fine contributions and assistance of Dee Young and Linda Groundwater. To Bob's family, friends, and colleagues, yes, it is finally happening. And thanks to everyone for all your ongoing support. 

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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Happy Father's Day!

Wishing all Dads and Dads-at-Heart a Happy Father's Day today!

Above: Photo of Bob Crane and Kathy Cody from Superdad.
"I have always felt, in my own career, in the years that I was in radio, and on The Donna Reed Show, and on Hogan’s Heroes, and now doing the Disney film and doing plays on the road, it’s a matter of being in the right place at the right time and having a little talent to go along with it and experience. And all of these things are not done overnight. And in Superdad, I try to convince my daughter, 'Take your time. Don’t be in a hurry.' But that’s tough to tell a teenage girl or boy. There’s plenty of time. You’ve got your whole life to live. They don’t want to hear that." ~Bob Crane, on his role in the film Superdad (1974)

Above: Bob Crane with Robert Clary, Ivan Dixon, Richard Dawson, and Larry Hovis during an episode from Hogan's Heroes.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

In Honor of the 70th Anniversary of D-Day

Remembering all American and Allied World War II servicemen/women in honor of the 70th Anniversary of D-Day. Thank you for our freedom. 
Bob Crane had not been old enough to serve in World War II. However, following high school graduation in 1946, he joined the U.S. National Guard and served for three years in his home state of Connecticut. Bob was a proud American, and he remained greatly supportive of America's military forces and veterans throughout his entire life.

Bob Crane's older brother, Al, served in the United States Navy during World War II. He is honored in the United States World War II Registry.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Happy Memorial Day Weekend ~ 2014

Bob Crane (Colonel Hogan), Ivan Dixon (Sergeant Kinchloe), and Larry Hovis (Sergeant Carter)
on Hogan's Heroes (1965-1971).

When we think of Memorial Day weekend in America, we often associate the holiday with barbeques, trips to the beach or the mountains, an extra day off from work, and the kick off to the summer season. However, we are reminded that this holiday means more than just hot dogs and burgers and cold drinks. This is a time for remembrance of our veterans ~ those who served our country and who either died in battle or have passed on. This day should also extend to our living veterans, who have served our country so that we may know freedom from oppression and be able to live in a peaceful democracy.

Bob Crane grew up during the World War II years, graduating from high school in June 1946. He knew a great many friends and classmates, and even family members, who were called off to fight in the war. Bob himself came close to serving in the war. They were preparing his class to graduate early in 1945 and were "toughening them up" during gym class for the harsh conditions they would experience during battle. Fortunately for Bob and the Class of 1946, the war ended before their class was called up to serve. Following graduation, Bob joined the U.S. National Guard in Connecticut, where he served for three years.

Bob's older brother, Al, however, did serve in the Navy during World War II. He was stationed on the U.S.S. Bunker Hill in the Pacific Theater of War. The Bunker Hill saw a great deal of action. On the morning of May 11, 1945, two Kamikaze planes crashed into the ship, severely crippling her. Many who were serving on the Bunker Hill died or were badly wounded that day, and the Cranes did not know for several weeks if Al had survived. When the word finally came that he was alive, according to Bob's best friend from school, "It was like Christmas." Al Crane is now honored for his service in the United States World War II National Registry. Throughout his life, Bob was always hugely supportive of all U.S. troops, and he volunteered his time regularly with organizations such as Operation Entertainment and the U.S. Armed Forces Radio Network.

John Banner, later Sgt. Schultz on Hogan's Heroes, was the
official "poster boy" for the United States Army
during World War II ~ 1942.

When Bob worked on Hogan's Heroes, his co-stars provided a rich tapestry of their own experiences of service and survival. Robert Clary, who is Jewish, spent two years in a concentration camp and lost many of his family during the Holocaust. John Banner (Sergeant Schultz), also Jewish, left his home in Austria and came to the United States, where he served in the U.S. Army. In 1942, he was the U.S. Army's official "poster boy" for World War II, his strong physique speaking to America's young men to prove that they, too, could be that brave, fighting soldier. Werner Klemperer (Colonel Klink), of Jewish descent, escaped Nazi Germany with his family in 1933 and came to America in 1935. He served in the U.S. Army for three and a half years in the Pacific Theater during World War II. He achieved the rank of Technician Fifth Grade (T-5). Howard Caine, also Jewish, who had portrayed Gestapo Major Hochstetter on Hogan's Heroes, served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and fought the Japanese in the Pacific Theater.

This year, while you are at your picnics and taking your mini-vacations, certainly enjoy the time spent with your family and friends. You are able to do so because of the brave service men and women who have given and continue to give of themselves, and who sometimes pay the ultimate price for our freedom. Take a few minutes and remember them ~ all of them ~ who have served in any war or conflict in which America has engaged, and especially those who  gave their lives in battle so that we may be free.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Hogan's Heroes - 'Hogan's Hofbrau'

Just for fun! Some interesting trivia about this episode (courtesy of IMDB): "Klink's forced contribution of 10,000 Reich Marks would be equivalent to $32,000 today, after converting to dollars and adjusting for inflation."

I'd say that was a very generous contribution!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Bob Crane's New Biography: Update

I am happy to say that Bob Crane's biography is progressing nicely. I continue writing and editing as earlier chapters are being formatted. It is hard work. And it is a lot of hard work. But I am hopeful that the end result will please those who loved him, bring understanding to the public, and finally, do some justice for Bob that is so long overdue.

In 2015, Hogan's Heroes will celebrate its 50th Anniversary. The release of Bob Crane's new biography will coincide with this milestone event for the series. And to get there, I will write, write, write; edit, edit, edit; proof, proof, proof. 

It you think you know Bob Crane because you saw the film Auto Focus, you don't know Bob Crane at all. Mark my words, Flipside: The True Story of Bob Crane will be nothing like Auto Focus. It will be accurate. It will be complete. It will be honest. It will be heartfelt. And it will be worth it!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Bob Crane Interviews Mary Tyler Moore over KMPC (c. 1972)

In this charming clip, Mary Tyler Moore explains to Bob Crane about the origins of her full name, how she got started in acting, and her work on The Richard Diamond Show. Does it get any better than this?

The Bob Crane Show / Interview with Mary Tyler Moore
Thanksgiving Day (Year Unknown, circa 1972)
Broadcast over KMPC Radio / Hollywood, California
Clip courtesy of Scott Crane.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Restitution: Telling the Truth about Bob Crane

Taking a few minutes to update you on the status of Bob Crane's new, serious biography, Flipside: The True Story of Bob Crane. The first half of the book is written, and chapters are currently being formatting. Everything is moving along, and I'm hoping we can publish by the end of 2014. However, that being said, I also won't rush to publication. It will be perfect, or as close to perfect as humanly possible, before we go to press. Too much misinformation has already been released about Bob Crane to publish this book without ensuring every piece of information is accurate and verified.

As I have been on this journey, I have heard many words of thanks along the way. Linda Groundwater, Dee Young, and I have had people who knew Bob and who love him tell us "thank you for doing this" so many times, we have lost count. Last night, I heard those words again, this time from Bob's cousin, who told me, "Your wonderful writings will be a restitution. I pray for your publication."

Words such as this cannot be taken lightly. They reiterate the enormous responsibility that rests in my hands and in the hands of my research partners and collaborators ~ to finally, after all these years, tell the world who Bob Crane was, and just as importantly, who he was not.

Restitution. And so long overdue. But not much longer now.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Bob Crane Show / Interview with Jerry Lewis (c. 1965)

Bob Crane held many comedians in high regard, including Jerry Lewis. This clip was originally aired over KNX-CBS Radio in early 1965. Later, in January 1976, Bob guest hosted at KAYO Radio in Seattle, Washington. During his show over KAYO, this clip was rebroadcast. Enjoy!

The Bob Crane Show / Interview with Jerry Lewis
KNX-CBS Radio/Los Angeles, CA
Original Air Date ~ Circa 1965
Rebroadcast over KAYO Radio , Seattle, WA ~ January 1976
Aircheck courtesy of Scott Crane.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Hiking Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook ~ The Backdrop to 'Hogan's Heroes'

Many have asked me, "Whatever became of the set of Hogan's Heroes?" Or "Where was Hogan's Heroes filmed?" Hogan's Heroes was filmed in two locations. Indoor sets were housed at Desilu Studios, while outdoor scenes were shot in Culver City, California, on what was known as "40 Acres Backlot."

While in Los Angeles in March 2012, I hiked the Baldwin Hills mountain up to the Scenic Overlook. What is important about this mountain range nestled next to Culver City is its proximity to 40 Acres Backlot, where so many film and television productions, including Gone With the Wind, The Andy Griffith Show, Star Trek, Gomer Pyle, and of course, Hogan's Heroes, were filmed, and where Bob Crane worked for six years during the sit-com's production (1965-1971).

View from the top of the Baldwin Hills mountain.
Below are photos from my trek up and down the Baldwin Hills mountain on a gorgeous sunny day ~ a day so clear you could see directly across all of Los Angeles to the Hollywood Sign. I'm also sharing maps of the area from 1965 (with sets clearly labeled and for which I take no ownership or credit!) and from Google Maps, which I did label, to give you an idea of where, approximately, Stalag 13 was situated.

Today, what had been 40 Acres Backlot is now composed of storage units, offices, and housing developments. But if you are in Culver City, take the morning or afternoon and hike Baldwin Hills. When you reach the top, look out over Culver City. The land below is steeped in Hollywood history, and you can almost hear the sounds of those iconic films and television shows rustling in the wind. I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

Double click the image above for easier viewing.

Double click the image above for easier viewing.
Double click the image above for easier viewing.

Looking out over the approximate location of Stalag 13.
Looking out over the approximate location of Stalag 13.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Bob Crane Talks with Reporter Stan Freberg about 'Hogan's Heroes' ~ September 1965

Fans of Hogan's Heroes may know the tagline, "If you liked World War II, you'll love Hogan's Heroes." The line, used quite frequently during the show's initial run, would occasionally resurface after the series ended and ran in syndication, continually marring the show with the assumption that war is not only hell, but it can actually be fun.

There are no two ways around it; you can love and appreciate Hogan's Heroes all you want, but that tagline is offensive. Despite its great success and large fan base, Hogan's Heroes still receives quite a bit of flack from from those who do not understand the satire or premise of the show, perhaps in part due to the crude overtone of this simple yet harsh tagline. 

Bob Crane had never been a fan of this particular tagline, having been a terrific supporter of veterans and recognizing their service in the United States Armed Forces, especially during war time (his older brother served in the United States Navy during World War II, and was severely injured and nearly killed in battle). Bob spent a lot of time explaining and defending Hogan's Heroes openly to the public on behalf of the network and the show's producers. He also made regular appearances to veterans' groups.

His message each time was clear and simple: No, we cannot and should not make fun of World War II or any war. The show is a satire, set in a POW camp, not a concentration camp. It mocks authority and the power some individuals have achieved, even though it is blatantly obvious they do not deserve to be in positions of power in the first place. It roots for the underdog, who struggles against tyranny in the attempt to overcome the trials set before him despite the odds.

Many veterans enjoyed Hogan's Heroes, supporting Bob's stand on how humor and one's wits can be used to fight back, saying the use of humor helped them to overcome the horrors of war. And for many, Hogan's Heroes still resonates to this day, most recently with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's "Bridgegate" scandal, where Internet memes are cropping up featuring Sgt. Schultz and his famous line, "I know nothing!"

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is being compared
to Sgt. Schultz in Hogan's Heroes in light of
the "Bridgegate" scandal, which broke this week.

The following interview between Bob Crane and reporter Stan Freberg was published in September 1965. While the interview is light, and the dangers of war bounce between the two men in jest, it is also clear that Bob did not embrace the tagline, his tone changing at the mention of it. Unfortunately, despite his best efforts, the tagline stuck, and it still resurfaces to this day, continuing the misrepresentation of the true intentions of the series.

From The Sunday Times, September 19, 1965, by Stan Freberg
"My favorite is a spot to promote Hogan's Heroes, an unlikely comedy series in which a band of Air Force officers are held captive by the Germans and try to escape each week, to some pretty funny results. The star, former KNX personality Bob Crane, informed me that the show 'is all about World War II.' There is a pregnant pause."

FREBERG: Well, that sounds pretty amusing so far; where does the show take place?

CRANE: In a prisoner of war camp in Germany.

FREBERG: Always a good situation comedy locale. What's the plot?

CRANE: Well, we have an escape tunnel dug under the barracks...We have our own tailor making civilian clothes, we're equipped to make counterfeit German passports...

FREBERG: All right under the noses of the German guards?

CRANE: Right. And each week we nearly get caught smuggling the men out. (He chuckles.)

FREBERG: What are some of the other amusing ingredients?

CRANE: Oh...German police dogs...machine guns...the Gestapo.

FREBERG: Just a few of the laugh-provoking elements to be seen this fall on Hogan's Heroes each Friday night on CBS. Shall we say, "If you liked World War'll love Hogan's Heroes?"

CRANE: No, let's not say that. No.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

The Bob Crane Show / Delta Air Lines Radio Commercial (circa 1960s-1970s)

As was usually the case with commercials aired over his radio program, Bob Crane sure does a number on this radio spot for Delta Air Lines. And you thought a certain wireless phone company originated the "Can you hear me now?" tagline!

"Crane approaches something close to genius in integrating his commercials with show-stuff. While he sometimes fractures a sponsor's message, he reassembles the pieces and augments and embellishes said message in such a manner as to increase the plug's effectiveness. This is a matter of record. Crane sells. Crane pitches hard. Add to this that he has the area's fastest-expanding morning audience and you have a degree of value that should make time buyers drool."
-Liner Notes, Laffter, Sweet and Profane (KNX-CBS Radio Promotional Album
for The Bob Crane Show)

Aircheck courtesy of Scott Crane.