Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Website Redesign—And New Direction

Bob Crane: Life & Legacy


We are thrilled to unveil the redesign of our official website (vote4bobcrane.org), 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.

Enjoy!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Why We'll Never Endorse 'Auto Focus'

This quote speaks for itself. 


Yes, you read that right. It is unconscionable. It is disgusting. 

The general public watches this film and believes it to be true.

And it is not.

Auto Focus has done so much irreversible damage to Bob Crane's legacy and has hurt so many people from Bob's life, not the least of which are members of Bob's family and his close friends. When I see the pain it causes, I can't even put into words how it makes me feel.

It strengthens my resolve and pushes me to fight harder. Bob's family and friends mean something to me. They have become a part of my life. I cannot and will not just stand idly by and not fight on their and Bob's behalf.

Bob Crane was neither a devil nor a saint. He was human. Nobody is saying Bob was perfect. But not one single human being is perfect. And he was most certainly not the Bob Crane presented in Auto Focus

Not. Even. Close.

Auto Focus is total garbage. It never should have been made.

NOTES:
In 2004 or earlier, as soon as Auto Focus was out of theaters, Scott Crane removed all of his father's pornographic videos from his website. He has spoken to me at length about why he put them up for sale to begin with. He wanted to prove to people that the women in the videos not only knew they were being filmed, but they were performing for the camera; that it was consensual sex; and that there was nothing deviant going on. He told me, "I did the wrong thing for the right reasons." In 2014, Scott destroyed all of his father's pornographic films. The films and the website no longer exist.

Further, Bob's son Scott Crane denies having said the quotes attributed to him in the 2002 New York Times article mentioned here. These quotes attributed to Scott about his father showing him pornography are false. His father never showed him any pornography.

Bob's daughter Karen has also gone on record to state that her father never shared his pornography with her. She was completely unaware of his sex addiction until after his murder.


Friday, September 8, 2017

Bob Crane — Radio Pioneer, Radio Genius

In talking with many people worked with Bob Crane in radio—from WICC to KNX to KMPC, it became perfectly clear to my research colleagues/co-authors and me that Bob was a radio genius. In fact, his radio colleagues often used the phrase "radio genius" when describing Bob and his on-air talents.

After decades of research, we learned that Bob Crane was, indeed, a rarity in the broadcasting industry. He paved the way for future generations of radio DJs, talk show hosts, and personalities. According to so many who worked with the "King of the LA Airwaves" or listened to him on the air during the 1950s through the 1970s, Bob Crane was unique. He had a style all his own. It was a gift. 

Colleagues described watching Bob perform his show as if they were watching "a spectator sport." Listeners to Bob's radio show claimed they never knew what to expect. From commercials to drumming to impersonations and skits to celebrity interviews, Bob worked his magic and wove a program that kept listeners and advertisers at the edge of their seats and coming back for more. It all sounded completely spontaneous, as if everything he did was just springing to his mind, out of thin air.

Some of it was. It was a live show, after all.

Bob had a quick wit, and he could improvise. This served him well because he could think on his feet and rebound when things didn't always go according to plan.

But there was a plan. In addition to his innate capabilities behind the mic, Bob had something else.

Dedication.

You see, Bob Crane didn't just walk into the studio every morning and start talking into the microphone. Oh sure, he made it sound easy, as though he was just casually winging it.

He wasn't.

Bob's entire show was produced through extensive preparation. He worked hard at perfecting his show because he believed he owed it to his listeners to give them the very best listening experience he could offer them. People have a choice. They can buy a record (or today, download a song or album) or turn the dial. Bob wanted to make sure they wanted to to tune in to his show. He wanted his listeners to be entertained. He didn't want his show to be boring. And he did this by doing his homework, by reading the trade magazines, by studying the music artists and record labels, and keeping himself informed of everything going on in the entertainment/music industry.


As a result, The Bob Crane Show was everything but boring. It was captivating. It was wild. It was hilarious. It was dynamic. It was unprecedented.

For this reason and more, we will continue to petition for Bob's induction into the National Radio Hall of Fame, where he deserves proper recognition for his talents in and his dedication to the radio/broadcasting industry.

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Excerpts from Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography:

Bob threw himself into his work. He was out the door in the morning before most people were even conscious to arrive at KNX by six o’clock a.m. He would prepare extensively—exhaustively—for his radio shows. He made people laugh, and he loved making people laugh.

Everything Bob did on his radio show was rhythmic, as if he had rehearsed it a dozen times or more. He had prepared for it, retrieved the album out of his growing stockpile records, located the tracks, and decided which ones to use within a commercial. However, his on-air delivery was unrehearsed and unplanned. He had a natural feel for both music and comedy, and as one joke slid into another, he maneuvered through his show the way a cab driver maneuvers through rush hour traffic.

“Bob told me that he had everything prepared in the afternoon,” [Bob's cousin] Jim Senich recalled. “He would never go home when he went off the air. He said, ‘I would stay there so that when I came in in the morning, everything was ready to go.’”

Bob’s son, Robert Scott Crane, explained that his father was a workaholic. “I don’t understand when he slept or ate. The amount or prep work he did for his shows was just amazing, preparing dozens of sound effects that he would play during the show.”

[KNX announcer] Leo McElroy said, “So much of Bob’s show seemed to spring from his brain instantaneously. I think that for many of us, it was hard to tell what was pre-thought and what was something that just suddenly cropped up. He managed to make it appear that it was spontaneous even if it wasn’t.”

In preparation for his show, Bob would read everything he could get his hands on. He was perhaps one of the most knowledgeable individuals in the entertainment industry of his era.

“He would read the paper,” said [KNX salesman] Gordon Mason. “He would always a have a comment or two on the news. In fact, that was important to him because eventually that became part of his on-air material. So he read the paper quite a bit. He was very well informed on world events, and he was very well informed on entertainment events because I think he always had an eye on opportunities, especially if they occurred on TV.”

As had been the case with KNX, KMPC also granted Bob a waiver to perform his show to his liking, with his engineer handling the commercials and songs, and Bob having special dispensation to play other records throughout the show to enhance the performance. He was both prepared and off-the-cuff, producing his radio show as he had done so fluidly in the past.

According to [KMPC engineer Bob Maryon], Bob was a “fascinating, hard-working, and nice man. I’ve worked with some people who have really big egos, and because of that they’re not really pleasant to work with. I never found that with Bob. Bob just wanted to do a good show. He wanted to do it right."

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


Saturday, September 2, 2017

Latest Acquisition to the Liberty Aviation Museum's Official Hogan's Heroes Display

Ever since the Liberty Aviation Museum acquired Bob Crane's leather A-2 bomber jacket that he wore on Hogan's Heroes (also worn by Frank Sinatra in Von Ryan's Express), along with his entire Hogan's uniform, and Klink's and Schultz's uniforms, we have forged a strong partnership with the museum. In addition to preserving these iconic items from Hogan's Heroes and keeping them on permanent display for all to enjoy, they are also strong supporters of Bob Crane, Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography, and The Bob Crane Show: Reloaded. It's a match made in Heaven. And in Ohio. And I couldn't be happier!

The museum's CEO is always on the lookout for other signature items from Hogan's Heroes. One elusive prop was the coffee pot/receiver. Fans of Hogan's Heroes know very well that Hogan and his men would listen in on conversations going on in Klink's office through the coffee pot that concealed a receiver. The Hogan's Heroes coffee pot is, without a doubt, one of the most memorable props in television history. So we were all on the hunt for it. We knew it was part of a private collection somewhere in the world. But where?

Then earlier this year, that private collector decided to sell the coffee pot at a Hollywood auction. And the Liberty Aviation Museum was right there to "rescue" it and bring it home.

I'm thrilled to tell you that this iconic TV prop is now where it belongs, with the rest of the growing official Hogan's Heroes display! And that's where it's going to stay!

In addition to its many displays that showcase Hollywood in the military, the Liberty Aviation Museum is dedicated to preserving historical military items and vehicles. The museum is home to the refurbished B-25 "Georgie's Gal" and a restored Ford Tri-motor aircraft. They are currently restoring the PT-728, a WWII Vosper PT boat. The museum is also a great supporter of our veterans and active duty military personnel. Donations to the museum go toward helping them preserve such items, as well as honor our veterans and support our military. All author profits from sales of Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography sold through their gift shop are donated back to the museum to help them achieve their goals.

You can visit the Liberty Aviation Museum, which is located in Port Clinton, Ohio, year-round. To learn more about the museum, plan a trip, support and/or join, or browse their online gift store, click here.




Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Worth 1,000 Words: Rare Photos from Bob Crane's KNX Days

A picture is worth a thousand words. This is true of photographs of Bob Crane working in radio. Bob was a pioneer in the industry—and an unsung radio pioneer at that. His radio colleagues called him a radio genius. Leo McElroy, who worked with Bob at KNX, said that watching him performing his morning radio show was like watching a "spectator sport."

So many of us wish he were still here to talk with us, even if only for five minutes. But he's not here—his life cut short by the cruel hand of another. So seeing photos of Bob at work, behind the mic, spinning the records, his drum set visible in the background—it's priceless. 



However, to this day, the National Radio Hall of Fame will not acknowledge Bob's extensive and groundbreaking work in broadcasting, and that's a shame. Their reason is simple: scandal. They just will not see past the scandal surrounding Bob Crane. At least that's how it stands right now.

Bob Crane is only "guilty" of consensual sex with adult women, whom he occasionally photographed or video recorded. Keep in mind the key words here are consensual and adult. And yes, the women knew they were being photographed and/or filmed. This was investigated by authorities following Bob's murder and proven as fact.

Bob's addiction goes way back to the 1950s, long before he even arrived in Hollywood. It lasted for decades. But then, shortly before his murder, he realized he was a sexual addict. He wanted to change, so he sought counseling. He was serious about it, too. However, as with any addiction, it was not something he was going to overcome in one day. It was going to be an ongoing, life-long struggle. It was a private battle for him, and him alone, not to be ridiculed or judged. After his murder, however, his privacy was invaded and forced out into the world, with no perspective or understanding. 



Now look at the list of inductees in the National Radio Hall of Fame.


I'm not saying anyone on that list isn't deserving of the recognition. Congratulations to each and every inductee. I'm happy for them, in all honesty. It's a great honor to be recognized in such an institution. But some of those people actually learned radio techniques from Bob. Many on that list respected Bob's work and appreciated his talents. And still some others have had their own set of troubles splashed across headlines.

Should that keep them from being honored for their work in radio? No. But then, the same should hold true for Bob Crane.

It doesn't.

Bob Crane should be honored by the National Radio Hall of Fame. And that's part of why we're here. It's a lot of hard work, researching a man's whole life, writing and publishing his definitive biography, maintaining this blog and all of the social media that go with it, and producing a podcast.

Do you really think we'd still be here, after all this time, spending all of this effort, if Bob Crane had truly been a rotten person? Think about that.

All we ask—members of Bob's family, his friends, my co-authors/co-researchers, and me—is that in the midst of all the noise, you take a step back, stop, and think. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Summer Recap and Future Events

Carol Ford at the IX Center, Cleveland, OH
June 23-24, 2017
The Hogan's Heroes display is owned by
the Liberty Aviation Museum,
Port Clinton, OH
I can't say I'm ever bored these days!

First and foremost, our podcast, The Bob Crane Show: Reloaded,  which is based on the book Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography, went live on April 11, 2017. Since then, we've produced a total of ten episodes, with many more pending and in production. I couldn't be happier at the response we've been receiving. With our rare audio files of Bob and of many who contributed to the book, listeners are saying it "brings the book to life." It's garnering national attention, too. Our amazing host Eric Senich has been interviewed on the air and in print, including on WICC (Bridgeport, CT), WATR (Waterbury, CT), and The Evening Tribune (Hornell, NY), with more interviews pending. 

The highlight of the summer was in mid-July, when Eric and I were interviewed on NHTV in North Haven, Connecticut. This was our TV debut, and well, we were both a little nervous going into that one. The NHTV interview was a terrific experience, and host Bill Dillane and his crew made it very comfortable for us. 

Then, back in June, I was the guest once again of the Liberty Aviation Museum, in Port Clinton, Ohio, which is the official home of the Hogan's Heroes uniform and prop display. I honestly can't thank the CEO and all of the staff at Liberty Aviation enough for their ongoing support. We have a very strong partnership with the museum, and I'm honored and humbled by their loyalty to Bob Crane and helping to tell his complete story. All of our author profits sold through the museum gift shop are donated back to the museum, too. You can support the museum by purchasing the book or any of their merchandise through their online gift shop (click here). I'll be a frequent flyer to the museum, so check back here and on our social media sites for future visits.

The summer may be winding down, but we're gearing up for fall! Next up, I'll be at the Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention for the third year in a row, from September 14-16, 2017, in Hunt Valley, Maryland. There are some great folks affiliated with this convention, and if you're a nostalgia buff, you certainly don't want to miss it!

We have a few other events cooking on the stove, and as soon as they are confirmed, we'll fill you in! 

Again, I can't thank our supporters enough for everything they've done for us and for Bob Crane over so many years. That includes you, his fans! Bob was more than Colonel Hogan. He was more than just a headline. He was a human being, and a good one at that. His story is worth discovering. And that's why we're here—to rekindle Bob Crane's true legacy and tell his story through the recollections of so many who knew and loved him.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

2017 Author Events — Save the Dates!

The following two author events are now confirmed. I'll once again be returning to two of my favorite places on earth, and I'm super excited! I love all these guys!

June 23-25, 2017
Cleveland, Ohio/Port Clinton, Ohio

During the first two days of this event (Friday and Saturday), I will be at the I-X Center in Cleveland, where the Liberty Aviation Museum will be taking part in the Tank Plant /Military Show. The Hogan's Heroes uniforms will be part of their display during the convention, and I'll be there on Friday and Saturday to talk with attendees and sign copies of Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography. Then on Sunday, I'll be at the museum in Port Clinton for the day, winding up the event with a presentation starting at 1:00 p.m. Author profits from book sales during this event will be donated to Liberty Aviation Museum.

September 14-16, 2017
Hunt Valley, Maryland

This will be my third year participating at the convention. I've made some great friends here, and if you're a nostalgic TV/radio/movie buff of Hollywood's Golden Age, it's definitely worth attending. Book your hotel room early, though. Last year, it was a sell out!

~~~~~

I have a few more events currently in the works, and as soon as they are confirmed, I'll let you know. So check back here on our blog and our website (vote4bobcrane.org), as well as all of our social media sites, for updates.

Hope to see you there!

Carol

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Our Interview with Victoria Berry Wells [Book Excerpt]

During our journey to discover Bob Crane's life story, we interviewed, talked to, and corresponded with well over 200 prominent individuals from Bob's life. And over the course of that time, we came to understand Bob as a whole, complete person. Not just Colonel Hogan. Not just a sex addict. Not just a murder victim. But a human being.

As nearly everyone told us, and as quoted by KMPC engineer Bob Maryon, who worked with Bob at KMPC in the early 1970s: "There's been a lot of negative stuff, and I think it would be nice if there were a positive thing about him. You know people say, 'You're only as good as your last record,' and it's sad because you have a whole life here. So why should your legacy be based on what happened at the end?"

Nobody argues that Bob struggled with addiction. And it was an addiction, one that he recognized shortly before his death and, as we've said again and again, sought to overcome. But let's keep a proper perspective: his addiction was sex with adult, consensual women only, whom he often photographed and/or videotaped with their knowledge and consent. If you want to slap a label on it, the only "abnormality" is the amount of sex he was having. And the key words here are adult and consensual.

It is also important to keep in mind that Bob was chronicling his entire life. Not just his sexual encounters, but everything. From the early years of his life to the very end, he had in some way audiotaped or videotaped or photographed or journaled or recorded/wrote down every single event that happened in his life. Everything. Chronicling his sexual encounters was just a fragment of it. 

Bob Crane with Victoria Berry Wells
Beginner's Luck, June 1978
We got to know so many people from Bob's life, and they are/were some of the most amazing, wonderful, beautiful people on earth. This includes Victoria Berry Wells, or Vicky, as she preferred to be called, who costarred with Bob in the final Scottsdale run of Beginner's Luck in June 1978, and who is notoriously—and sadly—best known for discovering Bob's body on June 29, 1978—several hours after he was murdered.

As you might imagine, such an experience would leave anyone scarred. Vicky had her fair share of nightmares following what she witnessed upon entering Bob's apartment that day. Bob was not just the director and star of Beginner's Luck. He was her friend, and someone she looked up to and respected. And when we talked with her, at times, she was unable to hold back her emotions.

Bob's murder changed her life, as it did for everyone who loved and cared about him. Get to know Bob a little better through Vicky's recollections in the following excerpts from Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography. And while you're at it, get to know Vicky a little better, too. 

*******************************************************
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     [Vicky] found Bob to be pleasant and fun. As an actress, she respected him as an actor, so when Bob offered her the role of Monica in Beginner’s Luck, she was eager to accept. She traveled with Bob and the cast to Ohio in November 1977, where she performed Beginner’s Luck for the first time.
     “I did the show, and I had very good reviews,” Vicky said. “Bob was very proud. I was very sick when I was there, and Bob was absolutely marvelous to me. I had a hysterectomy, that’s how sick I was, and I still worked. Bob took me to the pharmacy. My doctor bought all my medication for me and checked on me every day to see if I was well. But thankfully, I got better. Bob was so marvelous. I will never forget how marvelous and caring he was with my health. But he was very pleased about my reviews, and I traveled with him on the road a few times after that. There was one special thing I remember—one review I got, Bob came running into the dressing room in Dallas, and he came in very excited. He was very professional. He knew I was very serious about my career. He read the reviews all the time, and he had circled the review. It said, ‘Victoria Ann Berry—Her scenes with Crane were the smoothest of the evening.’ And Bob thought that was so unbelievable because it’s a little part, and to have ‘her scenes with Crane were the smoothest of the evening.’ He was so impressed with that. He was so excited. There’s a lot about Bob that I absolutely loved.”
     But there was one thing about Bob that she didn’t absolutely love. Early on in her tour with Beginner’s Luck, Bob wanted to film Vicky in a provocative setting. She only ever allowed him to film her once—by the pool. But it made her extremely uncomfortable, and she told him about it. Like a light switch, he turned off any further desires he may have had to film her, and he never approached her again.
     “He knew I wasn’t into it at all,” Vicky said. “He was very protective of me.”
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     Vicky explained that as a director, Bob allowed others to shine and to have their moment. “Bob gave me a chance,” she said. “He let the light shine on me. He never stole the scene. I’ve worked with actors who have stolen the scene from me. People tried to steal scenes from Bob. Bob never tried to steal a scene from me. I used to watch the show every single night, after my part, and then I’d come back for my bows. Bob was a real pro. He was the star. It was about him. But he gave everyone else their chance except with people who would try to take it off him. It was very hurtful. I don’t think Bob had an ego at all. I think he wanted the show to work, and to make a show work, a fine director knows that everybody counts. He was the star of the show. He had the name. The other people were small-time actors. We were blitzed to even get the job.”
     Not everyone was as respectful or professional as Bob would have liked, however.
    “He had problems with egotistical actors, though,” Vicky continued. “But I always knew Bob was right. There wasn’t a shadow of a doubt in my mind. Not just right, but he was 110% right. He had to deal with a lot of ego. One girl started talking to the audience, making jokes with the audience behind his back. Oh, that was a cardinal sin. Bob was upset about that—he nearly had a heart attack over it. And there was another guy who thought he was a top actor, and he kept trying to do things—like wrong direction and wrong turns and wrong ambiance—against Bob. He tried to make it like Bob was stupid. It was a comedy, not a show to make Bob look stupid. Bob was the star. And they had problems over that. But he dealt with it as it came, and he was on top of everything. No matter what else what he was doing, he was always on top of it. He cared very much about his work. I didn’t think he was an egotistical man. I’d treat him as an equal. Some other people were very egotistical, and he had to sort of stand his ground. And he was always right. I mean, it stood out like a sore thumb how right he was. I have to tell you the truth. I would say if Bob was wrong or out of line. Bob handled it very professionally. He did not lose his cool. He was right. And he had to put up with a lot. I respected him immensely. If he said something, I knew it was right. I never questioned it. I put my trust in him, whereas some people didn’t, obviously. And they were wrong and stupid.”
     When Bob wasn’t performing on stage, Vicky found him to be very “down to earth.” He was older than Vicky, and she respected his experience and enjoyed the fatherly attention he gave to her. 
   “He gave me his all,” Vicky said. “Professionalism. I was so comfortable with him. I was never nervous, and ‘Oh, gee, is he going to yell at me?’ and ‘Did I do something wrong?’ I was free to experiment and improve. I would try different things. He would come in and say, ‘That’s fantastic!’ He would always be positive with me. Only once he corrected me. Only once ever. And I learned to this day how right he was. Bob was right there. Bob was right there 110%.”
e
     “He seemed very upbeat,” she said. “The only down side that I can remember is he wanted more in his work. That’s a definite. I felt that he wanted to get out and do another series. Badly, I’d say. I think he lost a lot when he was on dinner theatre. I think his soul got a little sad. But he had this pilot coming up that he really wanted me in. But with dinner theatre, he felt, ‘This is what I have to do for now.’ And he made it as professional and as good, and he cared about us, as he could. What was important to him was his family and his work. I think he wanted harmony in all areas. And his family—he was worried about little [Scotty] and getting a divorce made him distraught and stressful. He talked about Scotty. That stands out in my mind. He talked about him so much. That was bothering him—his family. I know he wanted more. He wanted another series. But he kept an upper lip. He was fun to be around. I never saw him distressed except about getting the divorce. His family life was tearing him apart. He wasn’t in a great place. But he was aware of it. He held it together.”
     But Vicky also commented that the need for “more” in his acting career was not a problem that Bob had encountered exclusively. She said, “I think most people that are on Bob Crane’s level as an actor need to have more. Tom Cruise, I’ve worked with him. He needs it. Don Knotts needed it. I mean, everyone I’ve worked with. So I don’t see why Bob would stand out any more than anyone else. Of course he needed it. It was his life. He gave his life to it. And to lose it and just do dinner theatre, I think that’s a very hard thing to do. He wanted to come up. He was not quitting. It was very humbling, to have to step down. But I’ve heard that from Don Knotts and other actors. Not just Bob. So that’s nothing unusual there. That’s just my opinion.”
     Victoria Berry Wells loved working with Bob Crane, and she embraced every moment she spent with him performing Beginner’s Luck. “In a way, I was a little bit like his confidante,” she said. “He was very professional. He loved my work, and he was honest. He became very protective and caring with me. I had to earn that. But I won it. And I got it. And I loved it. And I cherished it.”
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     “Bob was a professional actor. A lovable, lovable man. Loved his family. A professional in his work. You couldn’t get any more professional to knowing his lines and knowing his work. He’d been on a successful hit sitcom which gave him that. And plus all his background in radio and all that. But Hogan’s Heroes gave him a lot of confidence, and he evolved out of that. That showed him that he had a successful show and that was part of him. He was tremendously lovable and very professional. And a beautiful man. But he was like two different people. And the other side to me is sad. He needed help. He didn’t see that until much later. But he did see it.

© 2015 Carol M. Ford
Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

'Superfun' Demo Reel (1967) | Starring Mel Blanc, with Bob Crane

After spending many years as a radio personality, Bob Crane became known for his ability to impersonate voices, and KNX christened him their "Man of a Thousand Voices." Whether it was a race car driver, his radio engineer (who sounded a lot like Disney's Ludwig Von Drake), a sentimental and romantic Russian, former President Lyndon B. Johnson, all of the voices heard on the radio in The Twilight Zone episode "Static," or any number of characters, Bob proved he could impersonate anyone.

One interesting bit of trivia discovered while researching Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography concerned his German accent on Hogan's Heroes. To put it bluntly, it's horrible! I had often wondered, as did my coauthors, if Bob had been such a talented voice impersonator during his radio days, why did he seem to have such difficulty with a German accent on Hogan's Heroes

According to Hogan's Heroes directors, Bob didn't have difficulty with it at all. In fact, he was directed to do the accent poorly because the show's producers thought it would make the episode funnier. Just as an accomplished musician might be instructed to play the instrument badly (fans will recall that musician Werner Klemperer performed the violin terribly in a few episodes of Hogan's Heroes), Bob was told to do it wrong. So he did.

There's no question that master voice impersonator—and the official Man of a Thousand Voices—Mel Blanc respected Bob's work in radio and as a voice artist. Mel was a guest on Bob's KNX radio program, and in one instance, he—as Porky Pig—introduced Bob. And as short as this clip is, I have to say, I just love it.


But he didn't stop there. Mel Blanc hired Bob to help him with a new project—Superfun.

Superfun was an "audio cartoon service" for radio stations. Starring and produced by Mel Blanc, its goal was to provide humor to listeners in the same way that comic strips provided humor to newspaper readers. This demo reel, recorded in 1967, also stars Bob Crane as the salesman who promotes Superfun to the fictitious radio station WIMP.



Superfun was well-received by radio stations and listeners across the country when it started airing during the late 1960s. Billboard Magazine published an article on February 11, 1967, which details Superfun, its creator, and some of the stations that played it. (Double click on the image for easier reading.)



As a kid, I loved Mel Blanc's Warner Brothers' cartoons because they always made me laugh. Later, as an adult and an artist, I grew to appreciate the artwork and the voice talent that accompanied the drawings. And Bob Crane's connection to Mel Blanc, as well as Bob's own voice talents,  are discoveries about Bob that will always bring me great joy.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Morgan Kaolian's WICC Tribute to Bob Crane — August 19, 2008

Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography took a long time to research. We wanted to get it right. We wanted to do Bob Crane proper justice. We knew we had a big mountain to climb, and it wasn't going to be easy. But thankfully, we had a lot of people who helped us along the way—people who cared about Bob and who wanted his true life story to be told.

One of our strongest allies was—and still is—WICC 600 AM Radio in Bridgeport, Connecticut, where Bob worked from April 1951 to August 1956. WICC has always been a strong advocate of Bob Crane and a terrific supporter of Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography. WICC also supports our ongoing efforts for Bob's induction into the National Radio Hall of Fame and officially endorsed his nomination in 2011.

On August 19, 2008, Morgan Kaolian dedicated an hour of WICC air time to Bob Crane. This special aired, in part, to assist us with researching Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography (then with the working title "Flipside: The True Story of Bob Crane"). A retired pilot, aerial photographer, and former WICC Art Director and traffic announcer (known locally as "Captain Traffic"), Morgan knew Bob well, considered him a good friend, and spent many hours working with him on WICC's Channel 43 during the 1950s. Broadcasting live on the new UHF station, the duo performed many improvisational shows that included, according to Kaolian, "some crazy stunts in the style of Ernie Kovacs." One of Morgan's favorite recollections is the day Bob came riding into the studio on horseback to the sounds of familiar Native American music.



During his WICC broadcast, he talked about their friendship, their time spent working together at WICC and Channel 43, and Bob's successes in radio and television. "I knew Bob as a good musician; a very, very talented man on radio; and a just a great, all-around, fun-type guy," Morgan said. He also took calls from WICC listeners, who remembered Bob Crane as a prominent figure in Bridgeport history.

A lot of time has passed since this broadcast aired—almost ten years. Morgan, who I now count as one of my most cherished friends, is thrilled with the way our book turned out. I am deeply indebted to Morgan and WICC for all of their ongoing support. Without their contributions and efforts, we would never have been able to bring this important chapter of Bob's story to life!

Recording uploaded with permission from WICC.

Note: The Yahoo email address mentioned in this recording is no longer active.