Friday, December 7, 2018

Bob Crane & 'Hogan's Heroes' on 'The Hollywood Palace' Christmas Special — 1965

It's the holidays! And like many people, I'm in the holiday spirit! I love everything there is to love about the season—spending extra time with family and friends, sending cards to loved ones near and far, surprising people with gifts, and finding it in my heart to be kinder than necessary and remembering those less fortunate. Christmas music and holiday lights and decorations spruce up my cozy home as I go about cookie baking and gift wrapping. And at night, thanks to modern technology, I can flick on any streaming service and find an array of nostalgic holiday movies and television shows from years gone by. From Rudolph to Frosty to Charlie Brown, and from It's a Wonderful Life to Elf to White Christmas to A Christmas Story, the holidays just don't seem complete until those iconic programs and films play in my home.

For Hogan's Heroes fans, a never-miss in the holiday line up is The Hollywood Palace Christmas Special, which aired on ABC on December 25, 1965. Bob Crane and the cast of Hogan's Heroes are prominently featured in the variety holiday show, hosted by Bing Crosby. Below is the preserved film, along with the program listing, which—fortunately for us—are made available by The Hollywood Palace.

The Hollywood Palace Christmas Special (December 25, 1965)
  • Bing Crosby: "White World of Winter"
  • Bob Crane, Bing Crosby and Dorothy Collins: "We Wish You the Merriest"
  • Bing Crosby and Dorothy Collins: "Glow Worm"
  • Fred Waring and his Pennsylvanians: "Twelve Days of Christmas"
  • Robert Clary: "French Christmas Song"
  • Werner Klemperer and John Banner: "Stille Nacht" ("Silent Night" in German)
  • Andre Tahon (puppeteer)
  • Bob Williams and Louie the Dog (humorous animal act): Overly enthusiastic man tries to get his lazy dog to do tricks.
  • The cast of Hogan's Heroes (Bob Crane, Werner Klemperer, Richard Dawson, John Banner, Robert Clary, Larry Hovis, and Ivan Dixon) joins Bing in a sketch.

Of course, Bing Crosby, who was a regular host of The Hollywood Palace, also produced and owned Hogan's Heroes. John Banner referred to him as "der Bingle" in this Christmas Special. Banner's affectionate nickname for Crosby is used to this day, and perhaps by some who are unaware of its origins.

While it's fairly well known that the main cast of Hogan's Heroes could sing and often performed professionally, what is less known is that Bob Crane also enjoyed singing. We don't get to hear much of his singing except when he is on variety shows such as this one. He also liked to whistle, and once on his KNX radio show, he commented that he didn't know why he whistled all the time, but that he enjoyed it. His classmates from Stamford, Connecticut, also recalled how Bob loved to sing (in addition to all of his drumming!), and they said he was always singing and/or whistling while walking to and from school.

I found it interesting that The Hollywood Palace aired over ABC, while Hogan's Heroes made its home on CBS. It seems a bit unusual to feature an entire cast of a series—and in full costume—from a competing network. So I spoke with television historian Mitchell Hadley, author of The Electronic Mirror: What Classic TV Tells Us About Who We Were and Who We Are (and Everything In-Between!) and owner of the It's About TV website.

According to Mitchell, "There isn't anything to suggest there was any kind of an issue between the two networks [ABC and CBS]. 'TV Teletype' (a feature in TV Guide) referred to Vince Edwards appearing on Andy Williams' show on NBC while Ben Casey was still on ABC, which suggests these kinds of cross-appearances weren't that much of a big deal then. Also, considering Bing Crosby Productions had shows on multiple networks, Crosby probably would have had the clout to make this kind of thing happen. And CBS had recently cancelled Slattery's People, which Bing Crosby Productions produced, so even if they'd even thought of objecting, they might not have wanted to make 'der Bingle' mad—Again, assuming that it was even an issue back then."

As a fun side note, I love that Fred Waring and his Pennsylvanians are also a part of this episode. I had the opportunity to meet Mrs. Waring, if ever so briefly. My ex-husband and I lived in the Poconos near Delaware Water Gap in Pennsylvania, which was home to Fred Waring and his Pennsylvanians. One evening back in the mid-1990s, my then-husband Gary and I attended a concert, where Fred Waring and his Pennsylvanians performed. Just as we walked toward the theatre entrance, who should approach but Mrs. Waring! Gary had the honor of holding the door for her, allowing her to enter before us. I guess not much of a story—ha! But he always got a kick out of saying, "I held the door for Mrs. Waring."

I'll leave you with a few more fantastic stills from The Hollywood Palace's Christmas Special from 1965. All of us here wish you peace, love, health, and happiness this holiday season, and all the best for the new year!

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving 2018

From all of us to all of you—
Happy Thanksgiving!
We wish you a warm and happy holiday!

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Bob Crane's 'Terrible' German Accent on 'Hogan's Heroes'

Fans of Hogan's Heroes will remember all the times when Werner Klemperer, as Colonel Klink, had to play the violin. To put it mildly, Klink was a horrible violinist, but he held the ridiculous belief that he was just as good as, if not better than, the masters. He is so impressed with himself that in the episode "The Big Record," he allows Colonel Hogan to record him playing Mozart's String Quartet in D Major, K. 499, along with the other members of the rather pitiful Hammelburg Quartet. Of course, Klink has no idea that this is part of a scheme, and his quartet is not being recorded at all. So when General Burkhalter shows up, he wants the general to hear the recording. Thinking fast, Hogan grabs a record from Klink's collection, not the one Klink thinks they made, but instead, a professional recording by acclaimed musicians. Klink is so impressed with what he believes is his performance, you think he might just pop.

Yet Werner Klemperer was a skilled musician and vocalist. Born in Cologne, Germany, his parents were renowned conductor Otto Klemperer and soprano Johanna Geisler. Suffice it to say that when he performed the violin on Hogan's Heroes, he did it poorly on purpose, not because he could not play the instrument. He was directed to butcher the musical number to make the show funnier. And it did.

Recently, the question was asked regarding Bob Crane's German accent on the series. Frankly, it's awful! I will be the first to admit it, and I've thought it for as long as I've watched Hogan's Heroes (let's see, about forty-plus years or so).

The irony is that Bob was a noted voice impersonator. He was so talented at being able to impersonate anyone that while he worked for KNX-CBS Radio, the station dubbed him radio's "Man of 1,000 Voices." It's difficult to believe that a man who was so gifted at being able to impersonate others could have such a terrible time with a German accent.

To give you an idea of Bob Crane's capability as a voice impersonator, here are just a few examples of his on-air voice talent.

Here, Bob Crane interacts with a pre-recording of himself as a character
similar to the voice of Disney's Ludwig von Drake
(KNX-CBS Radio, circa 1960).

One of Bob Crane's first television appearances was on The Twilight Zone,
in the episode "Static." He is heard but not seen, providing all of the voices
heard on the radio.

Bob Crane excelled on the air, and his colleagues in radio hailed him as a
radio genius. Here, Bob impersonates a French designer and a reporter as part of a
commercial gimmick (KNX-CBS Radio, March 9, 1962).

When Linda Groundwater and I interviewed Hogan's Heroes director Jerry London for Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography, we asked Jerry, "If Bob Crane was so gifted as a voice impersonator and could impersonate anyone, why did he have such a terrible time with the German accent on Hogan's Heroes?"

Jerry answered us candidly. Below is an excerpt from Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography.

In truth, it was not difficult at all. He was directed to have a terrible German accent to make the show funnier. He adopted a horrible German accent because that was how the producers had wanted it done. “He wasn’t supposed to do it well!” Jerry London declared. “That was the comedy of it!”

Just like Werner Klemperer botching up a violin performance, Bob Crane botched up his German accent. The problem is, however, that when audiences watch the series today, they don't realize he's doing it poorly on purpose. The belief that he is incapable of this skill then becomes yet another way to ridicule him and deem him unprepared or unqualified as an actor. And that, to me and to others, is sad.

The take away point: Bob Crane was directed to perform his German accent horribly. He did as he was told, by his bosses at Bing Crosby Productions and CBS, to make Hogan's Heroes funnier.

And he did so, superbly.

Note: Bob Crane played an American, Colonel Hogan, on the series. However, he—along with Richard Dawson, Larry Hovis, and Ivan Dixon—often had to impersonate a German or Nazi officer as part of the plot. During those times, he spoke with a German accent.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Bob Crane, Sports, and the LA Dodgers

A little-known and rarely discussed fact about Bob Crane is that he loved sports. Not that it's a big deal. A lot of people love sports, including me! However, perhaps because his primary focus was music, the fact that Bob enjoyed either watching or playing a good game of football, baseball, or basketball is often overlooked.

But he was, indeed, a lifelong sports fan, and during his school days, Bob played many sports. Sometimes, he played on a school team (we published his junior high basketball team photo in Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography). He also played on several community intramural teams—basketball, baseball, and football, that we know of).

Bob met his first wife, Anne Terzian, while playing a game of baseball in the park when he was just fourteen years old. Bob's best school friend Charlie Zito also remembered that he and Bob met while playing on intramural sports teams in the Belltown section of Stamford, Connecticut—back around 1938 or so. As Charlie told me and as published in Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography:

     “We had a basketball team, and we’d play other schools and other neighborhoods. And Bob organized the whole thing. He got all the players among our friends, and he would keep a record of everything. We called ourselves the Belltown Commandos. The first season we lost all of our games. Bob, usually with his quip, said, ‘I think next year if we do this, we better change our name! Or nobody will show up to play!’ I think we won one game that year—and that’s because the other team didn’t show up! So we changed our name to the Belltown Braves.”

Not published in the book is that Charlie also told me that Bob once asked to borrow his football helmet and shoulder pads. "I'm still waiting to get those back!" Charlie joked with me shortly before his death in 2010.

Growing up in Stamford, directly across Long Island Sound from New York City, Bob chose the Brooklyn Dodgers as his favorite baseball team. When the Dodgers moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles before the 1958 season, Bob must have been elated! On November 13, 1957, he began a campaign (led by his little son Bobby, who at the time was six years old) to become the team's Dodger Bat Boy, which aired on his KNX morning radio show (click here to listen). Later on, after he gained fame as Colonel Hogan on Hogan's Heroes, Bob presented then-Dodgers team owner Walter O'Malley with a plaque-mounted model Jeep from Hogan's Heroes.

In honor of the Dodgers playing in this year's World Series, I decided to share several pictures of Bob presenting O'Malley with the Hogan's Heroes Jeep. Also included at the end is the team's official welcome to Bob at Dodger Stadium (courtesy of Scott Crane). I don't know the exact date these photos were taken, but they are circa mid-1970s. Enjoy!

Bob Crane with LA Dodgers team owner Walter O'Malley.

Bob Crane with LA Dodgers team owner Walter O'Malley.

Bob Crane with LA Dodgers team owner Walter O'Malley.

Bob Crane and LA Dodgers team owner Walter O'Malley.

Bob with his wife Patty, along with LA Dodgers team owner Walter O'Malley. The child in the photo is unknown.

Photo courtesy of Scott Crane.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Interview about Bob Crane on 'The Redfield Arts Revue' Podcast

I love talking about Bob Crane. Seriously. I've been talking about Bob since my school days (i.e., going on forty years), and now, as his biographer, I embrace it. Discussing Bob's life and career—whether in person or over the airwaves—is exciting, rewarding, humbling, and at times, life-changing.

But I wasn't always so comfy getting up in front of an audience or going on the air. And in fact, I still get nervous knots in my belly in the minutes, hours, and days leading up to an interview or presentation. I've learned how to get over the stage-fright jitters, but that wasn't always the case.

In March 2007, I had the pleasure and honor of meeting actress Arlene Martel. As Hogan's Heroes fans will remember, Arlene was known for her role as Tiger in the series, and Star Trek fans will immediately know her as T'Pring, Spock's bride. In addition to her work as an actress, Arlene was also a writer. A few years before her death, she penned a script that she shared with us called, Whisper in My Good Ear, which she was hoping to have produced. 

Arlene was a tremendous supporter of Bob Crane's biography and our efforts on his behalf. She was one of the very first major celebrities and the first from Hogan's Heroes to agree to a full interview. It took some time to convince her that we were honest in our efforts to do justice to Bob because she—like so many others—had been burned by the media when discussing Bob. But once she was on board, she was in it all the way with us. She wanted so badly to have Bob's true story be told, and sadly, she passed away before our book was published.

In 2007, Arlene invited me as her special guest at the I-CON convention in Long Island, New York. I went along with two of my friends, and we were invited to sit with her at her table in the vendor hall for most of the day as she signed autographs. She was also slated to give a presentation that day, and before she went into the session room, she asked of me a special favor: "When I get to the Q&A part at the end, raise your hand and ask me about Bob Crane."

I felt the blood drain from my face. Arlene was giving her presentation in a large lecture hall on the SUNY campus, and while the room was not filled to capacity, the crowd that had filtered in for her session was large enough to intimidate me. I felt that familiar feeling of stage fright creeping in!

Arlene gave her presentation, and at the end, she asked the audience if anyone had any questions. A few people raised their hands and asked her about working with Leonard Nimoy ("delightful!"), and what it was like working on the set of The Monkees ("fun!"). The questions started winding down, and I had yet to even raise my hand! Soon, the questions ran out. 

Arlene looked around the room and asked, "Does anyone else have any questions?"

I shrunk lower in my seat.

"Anyone?" She looked in my direction.

I wished for invisibility as my friends nudged me. But I was sure at that moment, I was paralyzed. I couldn't budge. I couldn't even breathe!

Finally, Arlene looked directly at me, and with as much intensity as she could muster, she asked one last time but spoke directly to me: "Anyone!"

Yes, my moment of shining glory, ladies and gentlemen. I could not move a muscle, I was that petrified with stage fright.

Arlene wrapped up her session, thanked the attendees, and left the podium. As she came up to me, she said, "You didn't ask me the question!" I was ashamed. I felt awful. And while Arlene was a little miffed at me, she was fine and didn't yell at me too much!

I'm not sure exactly when I turned a corner and was able to overcome my stage fright. I have given presentations every year since Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography was published in 2015. I have been on the radio, on television, and done podcasts—and not just about Bob, but for my day job and other areas of interest. And every time I complete a successful presentation or interview, I think of Arlene and my less-than-stellar moment during her presentation. I then say to her in my mind, "I sure have found my voice now, haven't I, Arlene!"

Last month, at the Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention, I had the pleasure of being interviewed about Bob Crane by actor, writer, and artist Mark Redfield for his new podcast series, The Redfield Arts Revue. This interview was recorded on Saturday, September 15, 2018, at 8:00 a.m., just before the vendor hall opened on the last day of the convention. We talked for about twenty minutes, and I hope you enjoy our conversation.

Because I loved every minute of it!

Many thanks to Mark Redfield for the opportunity to be
interviewed for his podcast, The Redfield Arts Revue.
To learn more about Mark's extensive work, click here.

Mark Redfield is also a talented artist, and he painted this
amazing caricature of Bob Crane as Colonel Hogan for me!
You can browse and purchase Mark's art work: click here.

Monday, September 17, 2018

2018 MidAtlantic Nostalgia Convention Highlights

Something very special happens every time I go to an author event and talk with people about Bob Crane. Granted, traveling around the country can be expensive and exhausting. But it is also highly rewarding, fulfilling, and rejuvenating. I wish I could go more places to meet everyone. Because when I talk with people about Bob Crane, ninety-nine percent of the time, people are either overwhelmingly appreciative of our work on his behalf, or I'm able to change their perspective of him from negative to positive, and in some cases, give them their show (Hogan's Heroes) back. And in nearly all cases, they are sad but also angry—angry at the wave of negativity that continually accompanies Bob's name in mainline media. Once they know the truth, they realize how badly Bob Crane has been wronged.

This past week, September 13-15, 2018, and for my fourth year in a row, I participated in the Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention in Hunt Valley, Maryland. I saw old friends, made new friends, and talked with attendees about Bob Crane. As is always the case, I had an absolute blast! In fact, this was my best year yet!

If you have never been, it is absolutely worth it. The celebrities are always friendly and welcoming, the vendors are hard-working and fun, and the attendees are excited and interested in what you have to say. Convention owner Martin Grams and his dedicated staff work tirelessly on the event to make it a memorable experience for everyone. To top it off, the convention raises money for St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital. What's not to love?

While at the convention, I am constantly reminded of why we're here to begin with: to set the record straight about who Bob Crane really was and to balance the scales. We provide truth and clarity, backed up with evidence and corroboration. It was never our intent to sainthood Bob; it was, however, our intent to reverse the ongoing negativity surrounding Bob, and share our findings and understanding with you.

As you would imagine, it gives me great joy to hear convention attendees who purchased the book in previous years return to see me and reiterate to me how much they "loved the book." That "it flowed." That "it was an easy read." That they "now understand who Bob was," completely and wholly, without biases or media glare. They continue to tell me how much they love Hogan's Heroes and his character Hogan, that they had no idea how instrumental he was to the radio industry and how he changed radio for generations to come, and that he loved his family more than anything else—his impetus for change and to better his life by combatting his sexual addiction and seeking to break free of it.

It was my great pleasure to meet several celebrities this year at the convention: Jan Smithers and Howard Hessman (WKRP in Cincinnati), and Ed Begley, Jr. (St. Elsewhere, This Is Spinal Tap,  The Accidental Tourist, and Auto Focus, to name a few).

In 2008, Mr. Begley and my research colleague/coauthor Linda Groundwater exchanged emails about our project; he had worked on Auto Focus, and his father, Ed Begley, Sr., was a guest on Bob's KNX radio show in the early 1960s. In that correspondence, Linda asked Mr. Begley if he would like to contribute to Bob Crane's biography. Mr. Begley felt he didn't know Bob well enough to contribute, but he did provide Linda with a very profound statement. He wrote: "I want to applaud you in your efforts to shed light on the life of Bob Crane... I wish you all the best in your endeavor and from the looks of the work that you’ve already done, you are accomplishing a most noble task. Again, I wish you great success."

I was honored to introduce myself to Mr. Begley, and I presented him with a copy of Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography. As he held it in his hands, he very lightly tapped the cover with the palm of his hand. He then said, "Bob Crane was a good man. Thank you. Thank you so much." He later reiterated his appreciation to my friend Darin Peters, who was the graphic artist for the book. 

In pinnacle moments like this, I am very deeply honored and humbled, as well as reminded of how important our work on Bob's behalf is and always will be.

It's not always easy being on the front lines to defend Bob Crane. I've received hate mail and been ridiculed. I've been harassed and called names. But in the great scheme of things, that's only a blip on the scale and a flash in the pan before disintegrating into nothing. The positives outweigh the negatives—by far.

Look for me to return again to the MidAtlantic Nostalgia Convention in September 2019! Wild horses couldn't keep me from it!

Carol Ford with long-time friend Brian Dettling.
Carol Ford with friend and vendor neighbor Mark Redfield.
Learn more about Mark's work by visiting his website (click here).
Carol Ford with friend and convention vendor Mitchell Hadley,
author of The Electronic Mirror and owner of It's About TV.
Darin Peters (graphic artist/Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography).
with Ed Begley, Jr.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Bob Crane Hosts 1971 Epilepsy Telethon

As shocking as this may seem to some people, Bob Crane was more than Colonel Hogan, more than a murder victim, and more than the target of a posthumous tabloid scandal. He was a human being. And a good human being, too.

Hm. Imagine that. 

For instance, did you know that Bob Crane gave of his time and money, often and repeatedly, to good causes, charities, and specialty organizations? He entertained our troops by visiting military bases across the country and donated countless hours of his time to the United States Armed Forces Radio Network. 

His good friend, Eliot Dober, from Bridgeport, Connecticut, was the Connecticut State Director for United Cerebral Palsy (UCP). Eliot talked with us about Bob's generosity to him and the Connecticut UCP. He told us that Bob returned to Hartford, Connecticut, throughout the 1970s to host the local portion of the UCP telethon. Producers of the national UCP telethon wanted Bob to stay in California to host the national portion. They offered him $20,000 to do it, too. In the 1970s, that was a nice sum of money—money he could have used. He was not exactly well off financially during the 1970s, even though he was a major television star. 

But you know what? Money never meant a whole lot to Bob, but his family and friends did. Bob turned the national UCP producers down. Instead, he agreed to host the Connecticut UCP telethon for next to nothing, just travel expenses that he accepted from Eliot out of respect.

Bob did this regularly, not just for Eliot, but for many. And he did this because he genuinely cared about people.

On February 7, 1971, Bob Crane, along with Robert Clary, took part in a telethon that aired on WTMJ in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to raise money for the Mount Sinai Epilepsy and Neurological Center. Below is a rare photograph from this telethon, along with the caption that accompanied it in the local newspaper (dated February 8, 1971).

WRAPPING IT UP — Radio and television personalities closed a 20-hour telethon Sunday with a song. Leading
the singing in the Channel 18 studios was Robert Clary of the television show 'Hogan's Heroes.' Behind him were
(left to right) Jack Lee, radio program manager for WTMJ; Robert Crane of 'Hogan's Heroes;' Angela Cartwright
of TV's 'Make Room for Granddaddy;' and Ronald McDonald, a local clown. The show, sponsored by the Variety Club
of Wisconsin, raised money to fight epilepsy. Proceeds from the show go to the Mount Sinai Epilepsy and Neurological Center.

Never think that just because you read something in the tabloids or watch a dramatized biopic or a TV crime show that this is all there was to a person. Especially someone who is not here to defend himself. It's not all there is, and not by a long shot.

Human beings are complex creatures. Bob was as well, and imperfect, just like you and me. Everyone deserves to have his or her full story told. Part of Bob's legacy should be that he wanted to be good and to do good, and he did his best in that regard, despite being tripped up by human weakness.

As Bob Crane once said:

When I was a kid, I fell in love with Spencer Tracy in ‘Captains Courageous.’ That, to me, was the ideal. A good man, a brave man. What I would want to be. I’m still in love with that.

We're never going to change everyone's mind about Bob, and that's a shame. I'm proud I am Bob Crane's biographer and don't care if some people want to throw stones at me. Go on, then, if it makes you feel better. I can take it.

But as you think about yourself and the people you care about, you'll undoubtedly want the good aspects to be remembered—despite the flaws. And we all have flaws.

It's no different for Bob Crane.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Thank You Once Again, Liberty Aviation Museum!

What a weekend! It was my third year in a row visiting the Liberty Aviation Museum as their invited guest, and as always, I had a blast during my author event and book signing for Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography. I gave a presentation each day—July 28 and 29, 2018, and while I try to keep my talks to about an hour, I typically go over by about fifteen to thirty minutes. It's tough, if not impossible, to cram all of Bob's life into one hour, especially because there is so much to tell. 

The Liberty Aviation Museum is the official home of the Hogan's Heroes display, which they add to regularly. In addition to Bob Crane's entire Hogan uniform (donated by Scott Crane, with the exception of Hogan's bomber jacket, which was won at auction) and other props and memorabilia from the series, they also own Klink's and Schultz's uniforms, one of Klink's robes, the iconic coffee pot/radio listening device, and a piece of Schultz's uniform, altered to adjust for the warmer temperatures in Southern California. This is a permanent display, and it will never be put into storage or sold off. They aim to collect as many authentic items from Hogan's Heroes to add to the display, so fans of the series can enjoy. And I couldn't be happier!

The museum is also in the process of building a M*A*S*H collection, and they currently own Hawkeye's robe (worn by Alan Alda), as well as Lt. Colonel Henry Blakc's robe (worn by McLean Stevenson). You can learn about the Liberty Aviation Museum and all they have to offer by visiting the museum's website

I'm honored to count the folks from the Liberty Aviation Museum as some of my dearest friends. They are genuine, humble, kind, generous, and hard-working, and their efforts at the museum and in the community are commendable and not to be over-looked. Please consider making a donation to the museum through buying items in their gift shop, becoming a member, or planning a trip to visit. (And a hearty meal at the Tin Goose Diner—attached to the museum—is a must when you visit!) You will help the museum achieve its mission, and you won't be disappointed!

Friday, July 13, 2018

Bob Crane's 90th Birthday: July 13, 2018

It's hard to believe that Bob Crane would have been 90 years old today. Or perhaps 90 years young! I know and am close with many of Bob's friends from school and work, and they are all right around the same age—80s and 90s. And let me tell you, they have just as much life in them as any kid!

What would Bob have thought about the world today had he lived? It's difficult to say. While we can't know for sure, I do have my own thoughts on the matter. First, I believe he would have enjoyed technology, and he would have immersed himself in the world of audio sound files. How very different it would be for him today as compared to the 1950s-1970s! Bob also liked to stay informed about all subjects, from current events to entertainment, and I can see him being very intrigued by podcasts, devouring as many as he could possibly listen to in the span of each day. I'm not sure what he would have thought about social media, but I think he would have enjoyed the basic social aspect of it.

Most importantly, I believe whole-heartedly that he would have written a book—his autobiography. A few days before his murder, a reporter interviewed Bob in Arizona. He asked him some standard questions about Hogan's Heroes, about his play Beginner's Luck (which he had been performing at the time), and about his life in general.

During this interview, Bob mentioned that if he were ever to write his autobiography, he would title it Laughing All the Way to the Grave. He didn't go into detail beyond the idea for a title, but I imagine it would have happened. Bob was a writer, and he liked to make people happy and make them laugh. So at some point, I think he would have written a book that inspired, educated, and entertained. I think he would have talked about radio, and of course, his work on Hogan's Heroes. He might have enlightened us on his acting ambitions and how much he loved his drums. And had he overcome his addiction, he might have shed some light on that as well, urging people to be more tolerant towards others as opposed to judgment and ridicule.

As J.M. Barrie stated, "Be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle."

Words to live by, or at the very least, try to.

It's a shame we never got to know what life would hold for Bob Crane because he never got to live it to his natural end. What I can tell you is that his family, friends, and many of his colleagues loved Bob—genuinely. He was also not ready to die and didn't expect to die that night in June 1978. 

Last year, when I was at the MidAtlantic Nostalgia Convention, I spent some time talking with Dawn Wells (Mary Ann on Gilligan's Island). Following Bob's murder, Dawn spearheaded an awareness campaign to safeguard actors when they traveled to different theatres across the country. I gave her a copy of Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography, and when she took the book from me, she held it close to her, almost like she was holding a baby. And she said to me, "I loved him so much." That touched me so deeply, and I'll never forget it.

So what can I tell you on Bob Crane's birthday? Well, don't judge others, especially without knowing all of the facts. Stop for one moment and think. Bob Crane was a human being. He had family and friends, trials and triumphs, and emotions that ranged from happy to sad, as do we all. He sought to do good and to be good, and to make the world a better place through laughter. We all try to do our best and get by in this world that throws so many challenges at us.

Bob did the same. 

My birthday, ironically, is tomorrow—July 14. So for my birthday as well as for Bob's, shelve the negativity and shine a little light. Do a random act of kindness in Bob's memory. That would mean so much in a world that could use more of it.

Happy Birthday, Bob Crane. I'm glad your light still shines in my world!

Sunday, July 8, 2018

TV Guide Cover Photo Shoot | November 19, 1966

Hogan's Heroes fans know this TV Guide cover well. 

The November 19-25, 1966, issue of TV Guide included an article by Dick Hobson entitled, "The Strange History of A-5714." This article details Robert Clary's experiences during the Holocaust and how he felt about working on the set of Hogan's Heroes as a survivor of Nazi concentration camps.

Clary enjoyed working on the set of Hogan's Heroes, and to him, it was an acting job. He makes it very clear that there is no comparison between Hogan's Heroes and concentration camps. As he states in the article: "Stalag 13 is not a concentration camp. It's a POW camp, and that's a world of difference. You never heard of a prisoner of war being gassed or hanged. Whereas we were not even human beings. When we got to Buchenwald, the SS shoved us into a shower room to spend the night. I had heard the rumors about the dummy shower heads that were gas jets. I thought, this is it. But no, it was just a place to sleep. The first eight days there, the Germans kept us without even a crumb to eat. We were hanging on to life by pure guts, sleeping on top of each other, every morning waking up to find a new corpse next to you."

Bob Crane was sensitive to Clary's ordeal in concentration camps and the Holocaust, just as he was to war veterans, prisoners of war, and active duty forces. Before signing his contract to play the leading role of Colonel Hogan, Bob insisted that a trailer of the series be sent to veterans in the midwest for them to screen. Once they approved the show, claiming without humor, they never would have survived the war, Bob agreed to the role. Bob also spent a great deal of time defending Hogan's Heroes to critics and a wary public, and when reporter Stan Freberg joked, "If you liked World War II, you'll love Hogan's Heroes," he was outwardly disgusted. You can hear it in his voice in the interview below. Bob detested that line, stating repeatedly in interviews that it was in poor taste. 

It doesn't surprise me that Bob Crane shared the TV Guide cover with his Hogan's Heroes co-star Robert Clary. I don't know the details of how this cover originated. I doubt either of the two actors were paid. Typically, promotional photos and interviews were just that—done to promote the show, not as a money-making venture for the actors. In fact, all of the studio Hogan's Heroes promo photographs used in the media and on the trading cards were unpaid photo sessions. 

I'm a nut when it comes to photography, and I'm an avid photographer. I have always loved collecting photos from the set of Hogan's Heroes and of Bob Crane.* Imagine my delight when I stumbled on to the photo session from the 1966 TV Guide cover featuring Bob Crane and Robert Clary!

Bob looked after people. He genuinely cared about his family, friends, coworkers, and even strangers. He always went out of his way to help whenever and wherever he could, often at his own expense, and he didn't seek repayment or recognition. He did it simply because he wanted to—even for people who didn't like him. He would think nothing of lending money or helping people advance in their careers. So however his involvement in Clary's photo shoot for TV Guide came about, whether it was Bob's idea or Clary's or the studio's, it is evident these two had a blast during it.

Below are a few photographs from this session for you to enjoy. All eighteen of these slides— along with prints—will be donated to the Liberty Aviation Museum for inclusion with the Hogan's Heroes display.

Friday, June 29, 2018

40 Years Later: Rest in Peace, Bob Crane

Forty years ago today. 
June 29, 1978 — Scottsdale, Arizona.
Rest in Peace, Bob Crane. You are missed by many.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Rare Photographs of Bob Crane at KNX-CBS Radio

Not too long ago, I came across a series of photographs of Bob Crane at work behind the mic at KNX-CBS Radio. While these photos aren't dated, I estimate they were taken in the early 1960s, circa 1963/64. 

I'll always love Bob's portrayal of Colonel Hogan on Hogan's Heroes, the role some people say he was born to play. However, I'll always love his radio work more. Bob Crane has been referred to as a radio genius by his colleagues in the broadcasting industry, and very few can compare to his style and technique. From sound effects to celebrity interviews to playing drums to improvising on the spot to preparing skits—without question, he was a force to be reckoned with in radio.

You can hear clips of Bob's radio shows on our YouTube channel, and I encourage you to listen, if you haven't already. And we're always looking for more! So if you have any of his airchecks from WLEA (Hornell, NY); WBIS (Bristol, CT); WLIZ/WICC (Bridgeport, CT); KNX (Hollywood, CA); KMPC (Los Angeles, CA); or any station where he was a guest, please let us know. We want to preserve these recordings and make them available for people to listen. You can reach us through any of our social media sites or via the Contact Us form.

Moving forward, we're going to be ramping up the volume on raising public awareness about his work in radio. So stay tuned!

PS: It's good to be back!