Bob Crane

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For the biochemist, see Robert K. Crane.
Bob Crane
Bob Crane Colonel Hogan 1969.JPG
Crane as Col. Hogan on Hogan's Heroes (circa 1969)
Born Robert Edward Crane
(1928-07-13)July 13, 1928
Waterbury, Connecticut, U.S.
Died June 29, 1978(1978-06-29) (aged 49)
Scottsdale, Arizona, U.S.
Cause of death Homicide
Resting place Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery
Nationality American
Education Stamford High School
Occupation Actor, disc jockey
Years active 1950–1978
Spouse(s) Anne Terzian (m. 1949; div. 1970)
Sigrid Valdis (m. 1970–78)
Children 4

Robert Edward "Bob" Crane (July 13, 1928 – June 29, 1978) was an American actor, drummer, radio host, and disc jockey.

A drummer since eleven years of age,[1] Crane began his career as a radio personality, first in New York and then 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 cancelled 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 officially unsolved.

Early life[edit]

Crane was born in Waterbury, Connecticut, and spent his childhood and teenage years in Stamford.[2] He began playing drums at a young age, and by junior high he was organizing local drum and bugle parades with his neighborhood friends.[3] Later he became involved in his high school's marching and jazz bands and the orchestra.[4] He played for the Connecticut and Norwalk Symphony Orchestras as part of their youth orchestra program.[5] He graduated from Stamford High School in 1946.[2] In 1948 Crane enlisted in the Connecticut Army National Guard and was honorably discharged in 1950.[6]

In 1949, Crane married his high school sweetheart Anne Terzian. They had three children: Robert David, Deborah Anne, and Karen Leslie.[7]


Early career[edit]

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 CBS Radio 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."[8]

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.

The Donna Reed Show (1963-4)[edit]

After seeing Crane's performance on The Dick Van Dyke Show, Donna Reed offered him a guest shot on her program. After the success of that episode his character, Dr. David Kelsey, was incorporated into the story line and Crane became a regular cast member, beginning with the "Friends and Neighbors" episode.[9] Crane continued to work full-time at KNX during his stint on The Donna Reed Show, running back and forth from the KNX studio at Columbia Square to Columbia Studios. He left the show in December 1964.[1]

Hogan's Heroes (1965–71)[edit]

In 1965, Crane was offered the starring role in a television situation comedy 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 distinctive military-style snare drum rhythm that introduces the show's theme song was played by Crane himself. The series lasted six seasons, and Crane was nominated for an Emmy Award twice, in 1966 and 1967. In 1968 he became romantically involved with cast member Patricia Olson, who played Hilda under the stage name Sigrid Valdis. He divorced Anne in 1970, just prior to their 21st anniversary, and married Olson on the set of the show later that year.[10][11] Their son, Scotty, was born June 4, 1971,[12] and they later adopted a daughter, Ana Marie. The couple separated in 1977, but according to several family members, reconciled shortly before Crane's death.[11]

In 1968, Crane and series costars Werner Klemperer, Leon Askin, and John Banner appeared with Elke Sommer in a feature film, The Wicked Dreams of Paula Schultz, set in the divided city of Berlin during the Cold War. In 1969, Crane starred with Abby Dalton in a dinner theater production of Cactus Flower.

Crane frequently videotaped and photographed his own sexual escapades.[13] 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.[14] 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.[15] 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.[16] 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 after Hogan's Heroes had run its course.[17]

Post-Hogan's Heroes[edit]

Following the cancellation of Hogan's Heroes, Crane appeared in two Disney films: Superdad (1973), in the title role, and Gus (1976). In 1973, he purchased the rights to a comedy play called Beginner's Luck and began touring it, as its star and director, at the Showboat Dinner Theatre in St. Petersburg, Florida, the La Mirada Civic Theatre in California, the Windmill Dinner Theatre in Scottsdale, Arizona, and other dinner theaters around the country.[18]

Between theater engagements 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 on NBC, which was canceled after 13 episodes.

In early 1978 Crane taped a travel documentary in Hawaii, and recorded an appearance on the Canadian cooking show Celebrity Cooks. Neither aired in the U.S. following his death. His appearance on Celebrity Cooks did air in Canada in late 1978, and was recreated in the biopic film Auto Focus.[1]


Apartment 132A of the Winfield Place Apartments (now Condominiums) where Crane was murdered
A funeral wreath on the door of apartment 132A.
Crane's and Valdis's gravestone, bearing the banner, "Hogan and Hilda, Together Forever"

In June 1978, Crane was living in the Winfield Place Apartments in Scottsdale during a run of Beginner's Luck at the Windmill Dinner Theatre. On the afternoon of June 29, Crane's co-star Victoria Ann Berry entered his apartment after he failed to show up for a lunch meeting and discovered his body.[19] Crane had been bludgeoned to death with a weapon that was never identified, though investigators believed it to be a camera tripod. An electrical cord had been tied around his neck.[20]


The Scottsdale Police Department, like most departments its size, had no homicide division, and was ill-equipped to handle a high-profile murder investigation. The crime scene yielded few clues; there was no evidence of forced entry and nothing of financial value was missing. Detectives examined Crane's extensive videotape collection, which led them to Carpenter, who had flown to Phoenix on June 25 to spend a few days with Crane. Carpenter's rental car was impounded and searched; several blood smears were found that matched Crane's blood type. No one else known to have been in the car, including Carpenter, tested for that type. (DNA testing was not yet available.) With no other significant material evidence, the Maricopa County Attorney declined to file charges.[21]

In 1990, Scottsdale Detective Jim Raines—a former Phoenix homicide investigator[22]—reexamined the evidence from 1978 and persuaded the County Attorney to reopen the case.[23] Although DNA testing of the blood found in Carpenter's rental car was inconclusive, Raines discovered an evidence photograph of the car's interior that appeared to show a piece of brain tissue. The actual tissue samples recovered from the car had been lost, but an Arizona judge ruled that the new evidence was admissible.[23] In June 1992 Carpenter was arrested and charged with Crane's murder.[24][25]


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".[26] "My dad expressed that he just didn't need Carpenter kind of hanging around him anymore," he said.[21] He testified that Crane called Carpenter the night before the murder and terminated their relationship.[27]

Carpenter's attorneys attacked the prosecution's case as circumstantial and inconclusive. They presented evidence, including witnesses from the restaurant where the two men had dined the evening prior to the murder, that Carpenter and Crane were still the best of friends. They noted that the murder weapon had never been identified or found; the prosecution's camera tripod theory was sheer speculation, they said, based solely on Carpenter's occupation. They disputed the claim that the newly discovered evidence photo showed brain tissue, and presented many examples of "sloppy work" by police, such as the mishandling and misplacing of evidence—including the crucial tissue sample itself.[22] They pointed out that Crane had been videotaped and photographed in compromising sexual positions with numerous women, implying that any one of them, fearing blackmail, might have been the killer.[28] Other potential suspects proposed by defense attorneys included angry husbands and boyfriends of the seduced women, and an actor who had sworn vengeance after a violent argument with Crane in Texas a few months earlier.[21]

Carpenter was acquitted. He continued to maintain his innocence until his death four years later, in 1998.[29] After the trial, Robert Crane speculated publicly that Crane's widow, Patricia Olson, might have had a role in instigating the crime. "Nobody got a dime out of [the murder]," he said, "except for one person," alluding to Crane's will, which excluded him, his siblings, and his mother, and left the entire estate to Olson. He repeated his suspicions in a 2015 book.[30] Maricopa County District Attorney Rick Romley, who prosecuted the case, responded, "We never characterized Patty as a suspect." He added, "I am convinced John Carpenter murdered Bob Crane."[10] Crane's murder remains officially unsolved.[29]

Funeral, interment[edit]

Crane's funeral, on July 5, 1978, was held 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 Robert Crane. He was interred in Oakwood Memorial Park in Chatsworth, California.[31] Olson later had his remains relocated to Westwood Village Memorial Park in Westwood, and was buried beside him (under her stage name, Sigrid Valdis) after her death from lung cancer in 2007.[32]

Auto Focus[edit]

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 descends into a life of strip clubs, BDSM, and sex addiction.[33]

Scotty, Crane's son with Olson, 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).[34] Scotty Crane and Olson had shopped a rival script alternately titled F-Stop and Take Off Your Clothes and Smile, but interest ceased after Auto Focus was announced.[35]

In June 2001 Scotty Crane launched the web site It included a paid section featuring photographs, outtakes from his father's sex films, and Crane's autopsy report that proved, he said, that his father did not have a penile implant as stated in Auto Focus.[16][36][37] The site has since been renamed "Bob Crane: The Official Web Site", and no longer includes a pay wall or controversial material.[38]



Year Title Role Notes
1961 Return to Peyton Place Peter White Uncredited
1961 Man-Trap Ralph Turner
1964 The New Interns Drunken Prankster at Baby Shower Uncredited
1968 The Wicked Dreams of Paula Schultz Bill Mason
1972 Patriotism Narrator Short film
1973 Superdad Charlie McCready
1976 Gus Pepper


Year Title Role Notes
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"
1976 Gibbsville Lawyer Episode: "Trapped"
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"

Award nominations[edit]

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



  1. ^ a b c Ford, C.M. (2015). Bob Crane: The definitive biography. Wilbraham, MA: AuthorMike, Ink. ISBN 0991033078. 
  2. ^ a b Altamont Enterprise and Albany County Post, Friday, February 13, 1970, p. 1, "Glittering Stars to Appear on Telethon," [1]; A&E "Bob Crane Biography" [2];"TV Radio Mirror," October 1967, pp. 33, 76-79.; Stamford High School; Stamford Historical Society, Stamford, CT.
  3. ^ Altamont Enterprise and Albany County Post, Friday, February 13, 1970, p. 1, "Glittering Stars to Appear on Telethon," [3]; A&E "Bob Crane Biography" [4]; "TV Radio Mirror," October 1967, pp. 33, 76-79; Stamford High School, Class of 1946 Alumni.
  4. ^ Altamont Enterprise and Albany County Post, Friday, February 13, 1970, p. 1, "Glittering Stars to Appear on Telethon," [5]; A&E "Bob Crane Biography" [6]; "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.
  5. ^ "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.
  6. ^ Newark Advocate, July 24, 1965, "Crane Gambles $150,000," p. 7; Stamford National Guard records, Stamford, CT.
  7. ^ "'Hogan's Heroes' Star Bob Crane Beaten to Death". Youngstown Vindicator. June 30, 1979. p. 6. Retrieved December 15, 2012. 
  8. ^ "Bob Crane Biography -". Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  9. ^ "The Donna Reed Show: Friends and Neighbors". Retrieved 2015-11-05. 
  10. ^ a b Tresniowski, A. (November 2, 2002). What About Bob? People Magazine archive, retrieved November 3, 2015.
  11. ^ a b "Sigrid Valdis, 72". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. November 22, 2007. p. 8E. Retrieved 15 December 2012. 
  12. ^ "Colonel Hogan has bounced back". Eugene Register-Guard. April 20, 1975. Retrieved December 15, 2012. 
  13. ^ Rubin, Paul (April 21, 1993). "THE BOB CRANE MURDER CASE PART ONE". p. 2. Retrieved December 15, 2012. 
  14. ^ (Katz 2010, p. 288)
  15. ^ Kim, Eun-Kyung (November 1, 1994). "Crane's friend acquitted". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. pp. A–8. Retrieved December 15, 2012. 
  16. ^ a b Wilonsky, Robert (July 18, 2001). "Klinky Sex". Archived from the original on December 23, 2010. Retrieved December 15, 2012. 
  17. ^ (Katz 2010, p. 289)
  18. ^ Noe, Denise: [7] TruTV Crime Library, The Bob Crane Case.
  19. ^ "Actor Bob Crane Beaten To Death". The Milwaukee Sentinel. July 30, 1978. p. 1. Retrieved 15 December 2012. 
  20. ^ Kim, Eun-Kyung (September 13, 1994). "Trial reruns TV star's love life". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. pp. A–8. Retrieved December 15, 2012. 
  21. ^ a b c Rubin, P. (April 28, 1993). The Bob Crane Murder Case, Part Two. Phoenix New Times archive, retrieved November 3, 2015.
  22. ^ a b Rubin, P. (May 5, 1993). The Bob Crane Murder Case, Part Three. Phoenix New Times archive, retrieved November 4, 2015.
  23. ^ a b "Crane case to go forward". The Bulletin. March 12, 1993. Retrieved December 15, 2012. 
  24. ^ "How did Bob Crane die, anyway?". May 8, 2008. Retrieved December 15, 2012. 
  25. ^ 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. 
  26. ^ "Bob Crane's son testifies in trial". The Telegraph (October 4, 1994). pp. A–2. Retrieved December 15, 2012. 
  27. ^ (Philbin 2012, p. 191)
  28. ^ (Philbin 2012, pp. 192–4)
  29. ^ a b (Newton 2009, p. 95)
  30. ^ Crane R, Fryer C. Crane: Sex, Celebrity, and My Father's Unsolved Murder. University Press of Kentucky (2015), pp. 200-209. ISBN 081316074X
  31. ^ "Family, friend mourn Crane". Kingman Daily Miner. July 6, 1978. p. 6. Retrieved December 15, 2012. 
  32. ^ Bob Crane Biography., retrieved November 3, 2015.
  33. ^ Ebert, R. (September 2, 2002). "Auto Focus" Captures Star's Downfall. archive. Retrieved November 15, 2013.
  34. ^ Crane, Scotty. "Raging Bullshit: Auto Focus Is Not My Dad's Story". The Stranger. Retrieved 14 August 2011. 
  35. ^ "The Truth About Bob Crane". Morty's Retrieved 14 August 2011. 
  36. ^ Ebert, Roger (October 24, 2002). "Sons take sides in biopic dispute". The Hour. p. D5. Retrieved December 15, 2012. 
  37. ^ "A star is porn". July 4, 2003. Retrieved 15 December 2012. 
  38. ^ Bob Crane: The Official Web Site


  • 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

Further reading[edit]

  • Graysmith, Robert. The Murder of Bob Crane: Who Killed the Star of Hogan's Heroes?. Crown Publishers, New York (1993). ISBN 0517592096
  • Scott, A.O. "The Bob Crane Story: Everything but a Hero. The New York Times, October 4, 2002
  • Ford, Carol M. Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography. AuthorMikeInk (2015). ISBN 0991033078
  • Crane, Robert and Fryer, Christopher. Crane: Sex, Celebrity, and My Father's Unsolved Murder. University Press of Kentucky (2015). ISBN 081316074X

External links[edit]