Crane as Col. Hogan on Hogan's Heroes (circa 1969)
|Born||Robert Edward Crane
July 13, 1928
Waterbury, Connecticut, U.S.
|Died||June 29, 1978
Scottsdale, Arizona, U.S.
Cause of death
|Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery|
|Education||Stamford High School|
|Occupation||Actor, disc jockey|
|Spouse(s)||Anne Terzian (m. 1949; div. 1970)
Sigrid Valdis (m. 1970–78)
Robert Edward "Bob" Crane (July 13, 1928 – June 29, 1978) was an American actor, drummer, radio host, and disc jockey.
Crane began his career as a disc jockey in New York and Connecticut before moving to Los Angeles where he hosted the number-one rated morning show. In the early 1960s, he moved into acting. Crane is best known for his performance as Colonel Robert E. Hogan in the CBS sitcom Hogan's Heroes. The series aired from 1965 to 1971, and Crane received two Primetime Emmy Award nominations for his work on the series.
After Hogan's Heroes ended, Crane's career declined. He became frustrated with the few roles he was being offered and began doing dinner theater. In 1975, he returned to television in the NBC series The Bob Crane Show. The series received poor ratings and was canceled after 13 weeks. Afterwards, Crane returned to performing in dinner theaters and also appeared in occasional guest spots on television.
While on tour for his play Beginner's Luck in June 1978, Crane was found bludgeoned to death in his Scottsdale apartment, a murder that remains unsolved.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Career
- 3 Personal life
- 4 Death
- 5 Auto Focus
- 6 Filmography
- 7 Award nominations
- 8 Notes
- 9 Further reading
- 10 External links
Crane was born in Waterbury, Connecticut, and spent his childhood and teenage years in Stamford. He began playing drums at a young age, and by junior high he was organizing local drum and bugle parades with his neighborhood friends. Later he became involved in his high school's marching and jazz bands and the orchestra. He played for the Connecticut and Norwalk Symphony Orchestras as part of their youth orchestra program. He graduated from Stamford High School in 1946. In 1948 Crane enlisted in the Connecticut Army National Guard and was honorably discharged in 1950.
In 1950 Crane began his broadcasting career at WLEA in Hornell, New York. He soon moved to WBIS in Bristol, Connecticut, and then WICC in Bridgeport, Connecticut, a 1,000-watt operation with a signal covering the northeastern portion of the New York metropolitan area. In 1956 he was hired by the CBS radio network to host the morning show at its west coast flagship KNX in Los Angeles, partly to re-energize that station's ratings and partly to halt his erosion of suburban ratings at WCBS in New York City. In California he filled the broadcast with sly wit, drumming, and such guests as Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, and Bob Hope. His show quickly topped the morning ratings with adult listeners in the Los Angeles area, and Crane became "king of the Los Angeles Airwaves."
Crane's acting ambitions led to guest-hosting for Johnny Carson on the daytime game show Who Do You Trust? and appearances on The Twilight Zone (uncredited), Channing, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and General Electric Theater. After Carl Reiner appeared on his radio show, Crane persuaded him to book a guest appearance on The Dick Van Dyke Show. There, he was noticed by Donna Reed, who suggested him for the role of neighbor Dr. Dave Kelsey in her eponymous sitcom from 1963 through 1965.
Hogan's Heroes (1965–1971)
In 1965, Crane was offered the starring role in a television comedy pilot about a German P.O.W. camp. Hogan's Heroes became a hit and finished in the Top Ten in its first year on the air. The series lasted six seasons, and Crane was nominated for an Emmy Award twice, in 1966 and 1967. During its run, he met Patricia Olson, who played Hilda under the stage name Sigrid Valdis. He divorced his wife of twenty years and married Olson on the set of the show in 1970. They had a son, Scotty (Robert Scott), and adopted a daughter named Ana Marie.
In addition to playing the drums on the theme song, Crane's musical talent can also be seen in the sixth season episode "Look at the Pretty Snowflakes," where he has an extended drum solo during the prisoners' performance of the jazz standard "Cherokee".
In 1968, during the run of Hogan's Heroes, Crane and series costars Werner Klemperer, Leon Askin, and John Banner appeared, with Elke Sommer, in a feature film called The Wicked Dreams of Paula Schultz. The setting was the divided city of Berlin inside East Germany. Crane played an American encouraging an East German woman to defect to the West. Klemperer and Banner played East German officials trying to stop the defection.
In 1973, Crane purchased the rights to Beginner's Luck, a play that he starred in and directed. The production toured for five years, predominantly at dinner theaters around the country. During breaks he guest starred in a number of TV shows, including Police Woman, Gibbsville, Quincy, M.E., and The Love Boat. In 1975 Crane returned to TV with his own series; The Bob Crane Show was canceled by NBC after three months (13 episodes).
At the time of his death Crane had recently taped a travel documentary in Hawaii, and had recorded an appearance on the Canadian cooking-talk show Celebrity Cooks. Out of respect for his death, neither was ever aired. However, Crane's appearance on Celebrity Cooks was recreated in the biopic film Auto Focus.
Crane became a fixture on the dinner theatre scene and performed there for ten years. In 1969, he starred with Abby Dalton in Cactus Flower. He also performed in Send Me No Flowers, but his most popular performances were in Beginner's Luck, which he toured at The Showboat Dinner Theatre in St. Petersburg, Florida, the La Mirada Civic Theatre in California, and the Windmill Dinner Theatre in Scottsdale, Arizona. Crane was performing at the Windmill at the time of his death.
Marriages and children
In 1949, Crane married his high school sweetheart Anne Terzian. They had three children — Robert David, Deborah Ann, and Karen Leslie. The couple divorced in 1970.
Later that year, Crane married his Hogan's Heroes co-star Sigrid Valdis on the set of the series. They had a son, Scotty. Valdis and Crane separated in 1977, but reportedly reconciled shortly before his death.
Friendship with John Carpenter
Crane frequently videotaped and photographed his own sexual escapades. During the run of Hogan's Heroes, Richard Dawson introduced Crane to John Henry Carpenter, a regional sales manager for Sony Electronics who often helped famous clients with their video equipment. The two men struck up a friendship and began going to bars together. Crane attracted women due to his celebrity status and introduced Carpenter as his manager. Later, they would videotape their sexual encounters. While Crane's son Robert later insisted that all of the women were aware of the videotaping and consented to it, some, according to one source, had no idea that they had been filmed until informed by Scottsdale police after Crane's murder. Carpenter later became national sales manager at Akai, and arranged his business trips to coincide with Crane's dinner theater touring schedule so that the two could continue seducing and videotaping women. At some point, however, the friendship began to deteriorate.
In June 1978, Crane was living in the Winfield Place Apartments in Scottsdale, Arizona while appearing in Beginner's Luck at the Windmill Dinner Theatre. On the afternoon of June 29 Crane's co-star Victoria Ann Berry found his body in his apartment after he failed to show up for a lunch meeting. Crane had been bludgeoned to death with a weapon that was never found, though investigators believed it to be a camera tripod. An electrical cord had been tied around his neck.
Crane's funeral was held on July 5 at St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church in Westwood. An estimated 200 family members and friends attended, including Patty Duke, John Astin, and Carroll O'Connor. Pallbearers included Hogan's Heroes producer Edward Feldman, co-stars Larry Hovis and Robert Clary, and Crane's eldest son, Robert. Crane was interred in Oakwood Memorial Park in Chatsworth, California.
More than 20 years after his death, Crane's widow, Sigrid Valdis, had his remains exhumed and transported approximately 25 miles southeast to Westwood Village Memorial Park in Westwood. After her death from lung cancer in 2007, Valdis was buried next to him.
According to an episode of A&E's Cold Case Files, police officers at the crime scene noted that Carpenter called the apartment several times, and did not seem surprised that the police were there, which raised suspicions. Carpenter's rental car was impounded and searched; several blood smears were found that matched Crane's blood type. DNA testing was not available at that time. Due to insufficient evidence, Maricopa County Attorney Charles F. Hyder declined to file charges.
Murder case reopened
In 1990 the Maricopa County Attorney re-opened Crane's murder case; investigators re-examined and retested the evidence found in June 1978. Although DNA testing of the blood found in Carpenter's rental car was inconclusive, Detective Jim Raines discovered an evidence photograph of the car's interior that appeared to show a piece of brain tissue. The tissue samples that had been found in Carpenter's car the day after Crane's murder had been lost, but an Arizona judge ruled that the new evidence was admissible. In June 1992 Carpenter was arrested and charged with Crane's murder.
At Carpenter's 1994 trial, Crane's eldest son Robert testified that in the weeks before his father's death, Crane had repeatedly expressed a desire to sever his friendship with Carpenter. Carpenter had become "a hanger-on", he said, and "a nuisance to the point of being obnoxious". He testified that Crane called Carpenter the night before the murder and ended their friendship.
Defense attorneys attacked the prosecution's case as circumstantial and inconclusive. They countered testimony that Carpenter and Crane were on bad terms, and they labeled the determination that a camera tripod was the murder weapon as sheer speculation, based on Carpenter's occupation. They disputed the claim that the newly discovered evidence photo showed brain tissue, noting that authorities did not have the tissue itself. They pointed out that Crane had been videotaped and photographed in compromising sexual positions with numerous women, implying that a jealous person or someone fearing blackmail might have been the killer.
Carpenter was found not guilty. He continued to maintain his innocence until his death in 1998. Crane's murder remains officially unsolved.
Crane's life and murder were the subject of the 2002 film Auto Focus, directed by Paul Schrader and starring Greg Kinnear as Crane. The film, described as "brilliant" by critic Roger Ebert, portrays Crane as a happily married, church-going family man and popular Los Angeles disc jockey who succumbs to Hollywood's celebrity lifestyle after becoming a television star, meets Carpenter, learns the wonders of home video, and spirals into a life of strip clubs and sex addiction.
Scotty, Crane's son with Sigrid Valdis, challenged the film's accuracy in an October 2002 review. "During the last 12 years of his life," he wrote, "[Crane] went to church three times: when I was baptized, when his father died, and when he was buried." Crane was a sex addict long before he became a star, he said, and may have begun recording his sexual encounters as early as 1956. There was no evidence, he claimed, that Crane engaged in BDSM; none was portrayed in any of his hundreds of home movies, and Schrader admitted that the film's BDSM scene was based on his own personal experience (while writing Hardcore). Scotty Crane and Valdis had shopped a rival script alternately titled F-Stop and Take Off Your Clothes and Smile, but interest ceased after Auto Focus was announced.
In June 2001 Scotty Crane launched the web site bobcrane.com. It included a paid section featuring photographs, outtakes from his father's sex films, and Crane's autopsy report, which, Scotty claimed, disproved the allegation that his father had a penile implant. The site has since been renamed "Bob Crane: The Official Web Site", and no longer includes a pay wall or controversial material.
|1961||Return to Peyton Place||Peter White||Uncredited|
|1964||The New Interns||Drunken Prankster at Baby Shower||Uncredited|
|1968||The Wicked Dreams of Paula Schultz||Bill Mason|
|1953||GE True||Episode: "Ride the River"|
|1961||The Twilight Zone||Disc Jockey||Episode: "Static"|
|1961||GE True||Harry||Episode: "The $200 Parlay"|
|1962||The Dick Van Dyke Show||Harry Rogers||Episode: "Somebody Has to Play Cleopatra"|
|1963||The Alfred Hitchcock Hour||Charlie Lessing||Segment: "The Thirty-First of February"|
|1963||Channing||Episode: "A Hall Full of Strangers"|
|1963-1965||The Donna Reed Show||Dr. Dave Kelsey||62 episodes|
|1965-1971||Hogan's Heroes||Col. Robert E. Hogan||168 episodes|
|1966||The Lucy Show||Himself||Episode: "Lucy and Bob Crane"|
|1967||The Red Skelton Show||Col. Hogan||Episode: "Freddie's Heroes"|
|1969||Arsenic and Old Lace||Mortimer Brewster||Television film|
|1969-1971||Love, American Style||Various roles||3 episodes|
|1971||The Doris Day Show||Bob Carter||Episode: "And Here's... Doris"|
|1971||Night Gallery||Ellis Travers||Episode: "House-With Ghost..."|
|1972||The Delphi Bureau||Charlie Taggart||Television pilot|
|1974||Tenafly||Sid Pierce||Episode: "Man Running"|
|1974||Police Woman||Larry Brooks||Episode: "Requiem for Bored Wives'|
|1975||The Bob Crane Show||Bob Wilcox||13 episodes|
|1976||Joe Forrester||Episode: "The Invaders"|
|1976||Ellery Queen||Jerry Crabtree||Episode: "The Adventure of the Hardhearted Huckster"|
|1976||Spencer's Pilots||Cozens||Episode: "The Search"|
|1977||Quincy, M.E.||Dr. Jamison||Episode: "Has Anybody Here Seen Quincy?"|
|1977||The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries||Danny Day||Episode: "A Hunting We Will Go"|
|1978||The Love Boat||Edward 'Teddy' Anderson||Episode: "Too Hot to Handle/Family Reunion/Cinderella Story"|
|Year||Award||Category||Title of work|
|1966||Primetime Emmy Award||Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series||Hogan's Heroes|
|1967||Primetime Emmy Award||Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series||Hogan's Heroes|
- Altamont Enterprise and Albany County Post, Friday, February 13, 1970, p. 1, "Glittering Stars to Appear on Telethon," ; A&E "Bob Crane Biography" ;"TV Radio Mirror," October 1967, pp. 33, 76-79.; Stamford High School; Stamford Historical Society, Stamford, CT.
- Altamont Enterprise and Albany County Post, Friday, February 13, 1970, p. 1, "Glittering Stars to Appear on Telethon," ; A&E "Bob Crane Biography" ; "TV Radio Mirror," October 1967, pp. 33, 76-79; Stamford High School, Class of 1946 Alumni.
- Altamont Enterprise and Albany County Post, Friday, February 13, 1970, p. 1, "Glittering Stars to Appear on Telethon," ; A&E "Bob Crane Biography" ; "TV Radio Mirror," October 1967, pp. 33, 76-79; TV Star Parade, January 1966, "The Unlikeliest Hero of Them All," pp. 8, 70-71; Stamford High School, Stamford, CT.
- "TV Radio Mirror," October 1967, pp. 33, 76-79; Bridgeport Symphony Orchestra, formerly Connecticut Symphony Orchestra, Bridgeport, CT; Stamford High School, Class of 1946 Alumni.
- Newark Advocate, July 24, 1965, "Crane Gambles $150,000," p. 7; Stamford National Guard records, Stamford, CT.
- Noe, Denise:  TruTV Crime Library, The Bob Crane Case.
- "'Hogan's Heroes' Star Bob Crane Beaten to Death". Youngstown Vindicator. June 30, 1979. p. 6. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
- "Sigrid Valdis, 72". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. November 22, 2007. p. 8E. Retrieved 15 December 2012.
- "Colonel Hogan has bounced back". Eugene Register-Guard. April 20, 1975. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
- Rubin, Paul (April 21, 1993). "THE BOB CRANE MURDER CASE PART ONE". phoenixnewtimes.com. p. 2. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
- (Katz 2010, p. 288)
- Kim, Eun-Kyung (November 1, 1994). "Crane's friend acquitted". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. pp. A–8. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
- Wilonsky, Robert (July 18, 2001). "Klinky Sex". sfweekly.com. Retrieved December 15, 2012.[dead link]
- (Katz 2010, p. 289)
- "Actor Bob Crane Beaten To Death". The Milwaukee Sentinel. July 30, 1978. p. 1. Retrieved 15 December 2012.
- Kim, Eun-Kyung (September 13, 1994). "Trial reruns TV star's love life". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. pp. A–8. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
- "Family, friend mourn Crane". Kingman Daily Miner. July 6, 1978. p. 6. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
- "Crane case to go forward". The Bulletin. March 12, 1993. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
- "How did Bob Crane die, anyway?". straightdope.com. May 8, 2008. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
- Balazs, Diana (September 12, 1998). "Suspect in killing of 'Hogan's Heroes' actor Bob Crane". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. pp. A–12. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
- "Bob Crane's son testifies in trial". The Telegraph (October 4, 1994). pp. A–2. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
- (Philbin 2012, p. 191)
- (Philbin 2012, pp. 192–4)
- (Newton 2009, p. 95)
- Ebert, R. (September 2, 2002). "Auto Focus" Captures Star's Downfall. RogerEbert.com archive. Retrieved November 15, 2013.
- Crane, Scotty. "Raging Bullshit: Auto Focus Is Not My Dad's Story". The Stranger. Retrieved 14 August 2011.
- "The Truth About Bob Crane". Morty's TV.com. Retrieved 14 August 2011.
- Ebert, Roger (October 24, 2002). "Sons take sides in biopic dispute". The Hour. p. D5. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
- "A star is porn". theage.com.au. July 4, 2003. Retrieved 15 December 2012.
- Katz, Hélèna (2010). Cold Cases: Famous Unsolved Mysteries, Crimes, and Disappearances in America. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 0-313-37692-1
- Newton, Michael (2009). The Encyclopedia of Unsolved Crimes (2 ed.). Infobase Publishing. ISBN 0-8160-7818-1
- Philbin, Tom (2012). The Killer Book of Cold Cases: Incredible Stories, Facts, and Trivia from the Most Baffling True Crime Cases of All Time. Sourcebooks, Inc. ISBN 1-402-25356-7
- The Murder of Bob Crane by Robert Graysmith, published by Crown Publishers, New York, NY, 1993
- "The Bob Crane Story: Everything but a Hero," by A.O. Scott, New York Times, October 4, 2002
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