Friday, February 26, 2016

Quote of the Day: Bob Crane about His Role on 'Hogan's Heroes'

I am keeping a running page of quotes by Bob Crane (click here or on the photograph below), but I have also decided to post some of the individually as well. The following is one of my favorite statements Bob made about his role as Colonel Hogan on Hogan's Heroes. Bob was used to performing comedy, but in the case of Hogan's Heroes, he was what is considered the "straight man," or the person from which all of the comedy bounces. The early episodes of Hogan's Heroes provide a glimpse of how Bob started out as more campy and more of the comedian, but then quickly toned that down to be more serious, allowing the comedy happening around him to succeed. Comedy is about timing, and Bob's portrayal of Hogan is perfection. And as someone who has loved Hogan's Heroes from the first day I discovered it, I adore the idea of Colonel Hogan being seen as a father figure to his men! 

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Author Profits to be Donated to Charity in Bob Crane's Memory

Bob Crane with Pamela Hayes Thompson in Beginner's Luck.

It's tax time, and like many people, I'll be meeting with my accountant to review and do my 2015 taxes. And now that Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography is published, I'll be discussing something else: setting up a nonprofit account. Why? Because all author profits on the sales of the book will go to various charities in Bob Crane's memory.

My coauthors—Dee Young and Linda Groundwater—and I heard from many people how generous and charitable Bob was. We understand how much he wanted to help others, and he did so often and regularly, for little or no financial reimbursement. We felt it was only right to donate our share of the profits to charity in Bob's memory as a way to honor him and give back to the community at the same time. Plus, he should still be here, or at least have been allowed to live out his life to its natural end. Capitalizing on him in any way is not something we ever wished to do.

But there are bills to pay. We wanted to present this book properly, and that meant spending a lot of money. Once those production bills are paid off, we will donate. To us, it was never about making money. It was about the truth and telling Bob's complete and honest story. 

So learn about Bob Crane in the pages of our book. Discover his full life from birth to death, through his growing up years, to drums, to radio, to Hogan's Heroes, to the struggles he sought to overcome and his bright hopes for the future he never got to see. Know that as you're reading, a portion of the money you have spent will help others, just as we believe Bob would have wanted.

Enjoy, and as always—many, many thanks!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Unsung Hero: The Generosity and Philanthropy of Bob Crane (Excerpts from 'Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography')

Bob Crane working the 1978 United Cerebral Palsy
Telethon in Hartford, CT.
February 1978.
There's a lot about Bob Crane you don't know.

Sure, it's easy for his murder and addiction to be sensationalized, but doing so leaves out what's more important: the whole truth. For instance, did you know that Bob gave regularly of his time and money to various charitable organizations and the community?

Bob didn't think much about money. It didn't impress him very much, even when he was struggling financially during the 1970s. He had learned to live within his means, and he had remained humble throughout his whole life, often giving of his time and money to many organizations.

Bob was raised in a middle-class family in Stamford, Connecticut, and worked hard for everything he ever owned. Charlie Zito, his best friend from high school, explained how, while as a teenager, if Bob wanted a new addition to his drumset, he would have to work to earn the money to get it. He didn't have things handed to him. After his dynamic success in Hollywood at KNX-CBS Radio and on Hogan's Heroes, Bob became very wealthy. But it didn't change him. He didn't "go Hollywood," as he used to call it. He remained, as family members, friends and colleagues recalled, down to earth, kind, and generous. He was just Bob—the same Bob they had always known long before his fame.

Bob genuinely cared about people, and as KNX colleague and friend Leo McElroy told Linda Groundwater and me during an interview for his biography: "Bob was kind to those he worked with and kind to those he knew." Whether it was for his brother, friends, colleagues, or people he didn't even know, or even when buying U.S. bonds at a lower percentage rate than the banks would offer "because this country's been good to me," Bob wanted to help and make the world a better place. And he did so regularly.

But as KMPC radio personality and Laugh-In star Gary Owens told us during his interview for the book, Bob doesn't get very much, if any, credit for his generosity and philanthropy. 

Below is an excerpt from Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography, which will give you an idea of how much Bob gave back to the community and those in need, from his earliest days growing up in Connecticut and throughout his entire life. I encourage you to see past the glare of scandal and murder, and to learn what we've learned, not because we want to get rich, but because we want you to understand who Bob Crane really was. It's easy to get caught up in the hype, especially when that's the only information you ever receive. But once you read Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography, we think you'll be surprised at what else you discover.

And because Bob gave so much to charity, we are doing the same. All author proceeds will be donated to various charities in Bob Crane's memory. 


The following excerpt is from "Chapter 7: Among the Stellar Elite"

Lending a Helping Hand
“Bob did many things for charity. I don’t know that he ever gets credit for that. But he appeared frequently at various charities, just giving of his time. That’s what you do, specifically in broadcasting. You’re not paid for it; you just do it! And you raise money for very worthwhile charities. So there are two sides to everything.”
—Gary Owens to the authors, July 14, 2008

Bob Crane was a tireless volunteer. He did much for charity and the community while starring on Hogan’s Heroes, but his devotion to this work started well before and continued long after it.
It began with his service in the United States National Guard from 1947 to 1949 in Stamford, Connecticut. Later, at WICC in Bridgeport, Connecticut, he served as program advisor for the Bridgeport Junior Achievement and participated in other community events, such as judging talent contests and serving as master of ceremonies for various organizations. Later, at KNX in Los Angeles, Bob was constantly on the move, participating in Auxiliary lunches, Kiwanis Club meetings, and telethons; making appearances at grocery or department stores to promote local events; and acting as master of ceremonies for countless organizations. Further, Bob held the title of Honorary Mayor of Tarzana, CA; was a member of the Tarzana Chamber of Commerce; and was the Tarzana Senior Ambassador of Good Will. 
After he moved from radio to television, Bob continued his charity work, volunteering with the U.S. Armed Forces Radio Network; Operation Entertainment; the Cystic Fibrosis Fund Drive; the Easter Seals, the Arthritis Foundation, Rheumatism Foundation Telethons; as well as hosting the United Cerebral Palsy Telethon on a regular basis. He also made regular appearances for different fund drives, including “Mesa’s Heroes” in Mesa, Arizona, which recognized leading citizens of the community; and promoting the American Lung Association Christmas Seals program.
In October 1967, the Valley News publication of Van Nuys, California wrote:

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.

The following are only a few of the organizations to which he gave his time.

United States Armed Forces Radio Network
Bob Crane donated his time with the U.S. Armed Forces Radio Network, where he conducted and recorded many more celebrity interviews for broadcast to American troops serving overseas. Many of these historic recordings are also available to the public through the U.S. Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., by appointment.

Operation Entertainment
Eglin Air Force Base, Fort Walton Beach, Florida
ABC-TV / Bob Crane, Host
Bob made many visits to military bases, where he entertained troops and met with veterans and former prisoners of war. Operation Entertainment was a program produced by Chuck Barris and Bill Carruthers for ABC that ran in 1968. As part of this series, actors, musicians, and other celebrities traveled across the country and around the world to entertain U.S. troops serving in the military. The entertainers performed on location at Navy, Army, and Air Force bases. In addition to Bob, other hosts included Rich Little, George Carlin, Dick Cavett, Dean Jones, Dick Shawn, Tim Conway, Jimmy Dean, Roger Miller, Norm Crosby, Ed Ames, Flip Wilson, Don Rickles, Jim Lange, Phil Harris, and Dale Robertson. Among the entertainers were Vikki Carr, Donna Jean Young, Roy Clark, Louis Armstrong, Richard Pryor, Barbara McNair, Allen & Rossi, Minnie Pearl, Paul Lynde, Florence Henderson, Martha and the Vandellas, Shelley Berman, the Righteous Brothers, the Lennon Sisters, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles and the Rayettes, Patti Page, Pat Buttram, Rodney Dangerfield, Kenny Rogers, Larry Storch, Stephanie Powers, and many more.
Bob Crane was the host of the November 1, 1968, episode, which was performed and recorded for servicemen and women stationed at Eglin Air Force Base in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. Performers included Teddy Neeley and his Band, comedian Pat Paulsen, singer Fran Jeffries, and the Lennon Sisters, among others.

Davis Monthan Air Force Base
(Near Tucson, Arizona)
July 1967
When an actor prepares for a role, it is imperative that he or she gets into the character and really feels and understands the part. Without question, Bob did fit the part of Colonel Hogan very well. The character of Hogan was that of an officer in the U.S. Army Air Force, and several scenes from Hogan’s Heroes show Hogan piloting an aircraft, including a U.S Army Air Force P-51 Mustang. Bob prepared rigorously for his role as Hogan, and when the opportunity arose for him to climb aboard a real jet fighter as a passenger courtesy of the U.S. Air Force, he jumped at the chance.
Bob had been invited by the U.S. Air Force in July 1967 to speak at an officers’ dinner at the Davis Monthan Air Force Base near Tucson, Arizona. His flight from Los Angeles was not aboard a commercial jet liner, however. Bob arrived at the Air Force Base via a T-33 jet fighter, piloted by then-Captain Jerry Chipman (now Colonel) of the 4080th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing.
Colonel Chipman stated, “I remember the occasion very well. I was a General’s Aide and instructor pilot in the T-33 at that time and was probably selected to pick Bob Crane up at LAX because of my experience in the aircraft. I believe his visit to Davis Monthan AFB (Tucson), was to speak at a ‘Dining In,’ which is a formal function at the Officers Club. He came across as a very personable guy and did not seem to be overly impressed with himself. I had taken a flying helmet and oxygen mask for Bob to use on the return trip from LAX. The helmet was slightly small, which caused some discomfort. However, Bob endured the flight and presented a great talk to his military audience.”
According to press releases of the event, Bob was given every flight maneuver possible, and after landing, he emerged “with butterflies in the stomach and a grin on the face.” It had been his first ride in the cockpit of a jet fighter.

Meeting with Veterans and  Former Prisoners of War
While he was starring in Hogan’s Heroes, Bob entertained many veterans’ organizations and former POWs, and he was always received warmly by both groups. Further, they were never short on stories to entertain him!
In 1970, Bob explained, “When the show is on hiatus, I entertain for a lot of veterans’ groups and ex-POW organizations. The men tell me a lot of things that happened to them when they were in POW camps, and I pass the stories along to our writers.”
The episodes “Cuisine รก La Stalag 13” and “Eight O’Clock and All Is Well” are based on real stories told by former POWs. Other episodes also incorporated such real-life tales. Many, if not most, former prisoners of war did not resent Hogan’s Heroes, and according to Bob, “They know it’s strictly for laughs. We walk a thin line, of course. We could do something in bad taste, but our executive producer Ed Feldman has guided us right so far.”

Public Service Announcements and Promotional Films
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Bob worked closely with several groups on public service announcements (PSAs) and promotional films, including for the United States Coast Guard, United States Air Force, and the Holy Childhood Association (on a Christmas PSA).
Bob and other members of the Hogan’s Heroes cast, including Werner Klemperer and Robert Clary, worked with Leo Finkelstein, Jr., PhD, to produce several military films for the U.S. Air Force. In return for their help, Leo recalled offering his assistance to them on their work with Hogan’s Heroes.
Leo stated, “I did indeed direct Bob Crane, but not in Hollywood. I was an Air Force film writer/producer/director back in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and Bob (along with some other members of the Hogan’s Heroes cast) came out to Norton Air Force Base at San Bernardino and did some work for me for military films I was producing and directing. I found both Bob Crane and Werner Klemperer very enjoyable to work with—easy to direct and readily able to understand the rhetorical strategies I was using.”
Later, in 1970, Bob hosted an episode from the U.S. Air Force’s Propaganda Film Series – Volume 3: Vietnam/1965-1971. The episode, entitled “Friends and Neighbors – People You Know,” provides an overview of the work and importance of the United States Air National Guard in Vietnam. Bob hosted this half-hour long episode, filmed at Lowry Air Force Base in Denver, Colorado.
Bob also made several PSAs for the military—one was a television commercial for the U.S. Air Force, where he encouraged young adults to join the Air Force and enter officer training. Another was an audio PSA for the U.S. Coast Guard Academy urging young men to consider an officer’s career in the Coast Guard.
Another audio PSA not affiliated with the military was for the Holy Childhood Association, helping to sell Holy Childhood Christmas Seals to provide food and clothing to mission children around the world.

In 1972, Bob participated in the educational film Patriotism, in which he explained to children the importance of being patriotic. Produced by Art Evans, this film was one of several educational productions Evans made for Oxford Films. Bob himself was extremely patriotic, often citing his appreciation for the U.S. military and his love for America. In an interview on August 3, 1968, Bob said, “I believe in independence, individualism, courage, patriotism—the traditional American values. People call me a flag waver. That’s right—I am a flag waver.”

Grand Marshal – Chrysanthemum Festival
Bristol, Connecticut
September 19, 1976
On Sunday, September 19, 1976, the 15th Annual Chrysanthemum Festival took place in Bristol, Connecticut. The festival, launched in 1962 as the Fall Festival and now affectionately known as the “Mum Fest,” highlights Bristol’s achievements and proud accomplishments. Bob worked at radio station WBIS in Bristol in 1951, and the city honored him as Grand Marshal of the 1976 Mum Festival Parade. He also took part in the opening ceremonies.
The previous day, the city of Bristol held a reception in Bob’s honor, during which the native Connecticut radio personality recalled his time at WBIS. “I worked right about where I’m standing now,” he said. “WBIS radio was on the second floor, and a department store, Kresge’s, was below, and I ate at Kresge’s lunch counter.”
It is a common belief that Bob was a lot like his character Colonel Hogan on Hogan’s Heroes. During the Mum Festival reception held in his honor, Bob stated, “I am a lot like the Hogan that is fun-loving, but I’m nothing like the Hogan that’s a hero. I faint at the sight of a hangnail.”
As part of his role as Grand Marshal, Bob was presented with “a key to the city, three giant yellow mums from Mayor Henry J. Wojtusik, a clock from the Mum Fest Committee, and a hard time from a garland of mums he cut through to open the 15th annual festival.” Bob had such difficulty cutting through the garland, that Parade Master of Ceremonies Val McCormack joked, “You’d never escape from that prison.”
The 50th Anniversary of the Mum Festival was held on Sunday, September 25, 2011, in Bristol. Bill Schwab, who was the chairman of the 1976 festival, served as one of the 2011 parade’s marshals and happily recalled meeting Bob Cranedescribing him as “charming” and “delightful.”
Mum Fest Parade goers in 1976 would agree. Smiling broadly, Bob Crane received enthusiastic applause as he led the parade through his one-time home streets of Bristol, Connecticut.

Arthritis Foundation Telethons
Bob performed with the “Novel Orchestra” that featured some of the era’s top stars during the finale of the 1967 Arthritis Foundation Telethon. In addition to Bob performing drums in the orchestra, Morey Amsterdam performed on cello, Jack Bailey on trombone, and Herb Shriner on harmonica. Bob was a regular participant in  annual Arthritis Foundation telethons throughout the 1960s and 1970s.

“Funds for Dinah”
Chatham, Ohio
November 23, 1977
In late 1977, Bob Crane traveled to Chatham, Ohio, to host a local fund drive—“Funds for Dinah”—in support of an eleven-year-old Medina County girl who had renal disease. Dinah Brooks required surgery to remove both of her kidneys in her fight against the disease, and she needed to travel three times per week to receive dialysis at the Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland. After two years of making the long trips multiple times a week, the family’s car had broken down. The fund drive was to raise money to purchase a new car for the family, and funds that exceeded the Brooks’ family’s need were to be donated to other families facing similar circumstances.

Mitzi and a Hundred Guys
March 24, 1975
Actress Mitzi Gaynor assembled one hundred of the leading male movie and television celebrities in Hollywood to be part of a chorus for her television special. Bob was one of the first to sign on for the event, for which none of the stars would be paid. Instead, Mitzi made a sizable donation to the Motion Picture and Television Relief Fund in all of their names. Among the stars who participated with Bob Crane were Tom Bosley, Mike Connors, Telly Savalas, Peter Marshall, Dick Martin, Greg Morris, Vince Edwards, Marty Allen, Jack Lemmon, James Farentino, Ross Martin, Donald O’Connor, Bill Bixby, and Dean Jones.

United Cerebral Palsy Telethon
Hartford, Connecticut
Bob was especially dedicated to United Cerebral Palsy. He had close ties to the organization because his friend Eliot Dober from Bridgeport, Connecticut, had cerebral palsy. 
Eliot’s family owned a portion of WLIZ radio when Bob began working at the station in April 1951. At that time, Eliot was fifteen years of age, and according to Eliot, “I was in and out then, hanging around. And was a real pest!” Eliot remembered Bob being very patient with him during that time, and Bob had even given Eliot the opportunity to go on the air with him. They remained friends after Bob left Bridgeport and moved to Los Angeles in 1956, and Eliot took several trips out to the West Coast to visit him.
Throughout his life, Eliot was a strong advocate for individuals with disabilities. In 1977, he was appointed by the governor of Connecticut to the position of Executive Director of the Office of Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities for the State of Connecticut, and he served in this role until 1994. In addition, he also acted as the Connecticut State Director for United Cerebral Palsy.
As State Director for the United Cerebral Palsy Foundation, Eliot asked Bob if he could host the local Connecticut edition of the United Cerebral Palsy Telethon, and Bob always agreed. Generally, a celebrity would be paid handsomely to host a telethon nationally, and in 1970 and throughout the 1970s, Bob was offered $20,000 to host the national United Cerebral Palsy Telethon. Yet Bob turned down all of the national offers and the large sums of money, and instead, he flew back east to Hartford, Connecticut, where he hosted the local segment. He accepted only $2,000—just enough to cover travel expenses. In 1976, Eliot reported that Bob raised $97,000 for the Greater Hartford United Cerebral Palsy campaign, which equated to more than $400,000 in 2015.
        Eliot passed away on July 30, 2010, at 74 years of age. Before his passing, he remembered Bob this way: “He got along with everybody very well. And everybody liked Bob. I want people to remember the good things about Bob. He gave of himself, and he was a good person. A positive person. He wasn’t a bad guy. Bob was just Bob. And nobody is all good or all bad.”

Reprinted from Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography
© 2015 Carol M. Ford
Do not reproduce without written permission from the author.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Thanks to Barnes & Noble, Deptford, NJ, for a Terrific Author Event!

On Saturday, February 6, 2016, I had the honor of being the featured author at the Barnes & Noble Bookstore in Deptford, New Jersey, for a book signing of Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography. The event was a huge success, and I want to thank the managers and staff at Barnes & Noble, Deptford, for their kind hospitality throughout the day. And I also want to give a big thank you to my family and some dear friends for coming to the book signing! (If you couldn't make it over, I know you were there in spirit!)

New author events are in the works, so keep checking back here and on our social media sites for dates and locations!