Banner as Sergeant Hans Georg Schultz on Hogan's Heroes (c. late-1960s).
28 January 1910
|Died||28 January 1973
|Cause of death||abdominal hemorrhage|
|Resting place||Friedhof Mauer, Vienna, Austria|
John Banner (born Johann Banner, 28 January 1910 – 28 January 1973) was an Austrian-born American film and television actor. He is best known for his role as Master Sergeant Schultz in the situation comedy Hogan's Heroes (1965–1971). Schultz, constantly encountering evidence that the inmates of his stalag were planning mayhem, frequently feigned ignorance with the catchphrase, "I see nothing! I hear nothing! I know nothing!" (or, more commonly as the series went on, "I know nothing, nothing!").
Banner was born to Jewish parents in Vienna, Austria-Hungary. He studied for a law degree at the University of Vienna, but decided instead to become an actor. In 1938, when he was performing with an acting troupe in Switzerland, Adolf Hitler annexed Austria to Nazi Germany. Banner emigrated to the United States, where he rapidly picked up English.
World War II
In 1942, he enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps, underwent basic training in Atlantic City and became a supply sergeant. He even posed for a recruiting poster. He served until 1945.
Banner appeared on Broadway three times — in a musical revue called From Vienna, which ran for two months in 1939; and in two comic plays, Pastoral, in which he had a leading role, but which had a very brief run in November 1939; and The Big Two, which also ran briefly in January 1947. Early on, before he became fluent in English, he had to learn his lines phonetically.
Banner appeared in over 40 feature films. His first credited role was a German captain in Once Upon a Honeymoon (1942), starring Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers. He played a Gestapo agent in 20th Century Fox's Chetniks! The Fighting Guerrillas (1943). His typecasting did not please him – he would later learn that his family members who had remained in Vienna all perished in Nazi concentration camps – but it was the only work he was offered.
From the 1950s and Hogan's Heroes
Banner made more than 70 television appearances between 1950 and 1970, including the Lone Ranger (episode "Damsels In Distress", 1950), Sky King (premiere episode "Operation Urgent", 1952), Sheena, Queen of the Jungle ("The Renegades", 1955), Adventures of Superman ("The Man Who Made Dreams Come True", 1957), Father Knows Best ("Brief Holiday", 1957), Mister Ed, Thriller (episode "Portrait Without a Face", 1961), The Untouchables ("Takeover", 1962), My Sister Eileen, The Lucy Show, Perry Mason, The Partridge Family, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea ("Hot Line", 1964), Alias Smith and Jones, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. ("The Neptune Affair", 1964), and Hazel ("The Investor", 1965).
In the late 1950s, a still slim Banner portrayed Peter Tchaikovsky's supervisor on a Disneyland anthology series about the composer's life. This followed a scene with fellow Hogan's Heroes actor Leon Askin (General Burkhalter) as Nikolai Rubinstein. In 1953, he had a bit part in the Kirk Douglas movie The Juggler as a witness of an attack on an Israeli policeman by a disturbed concentration camp survivor.
In 1954, he had a regular role as Bavarro in the children's series Rocky Jones, Space Ranger. Two years later, he played a train conductor in the episode "Safe Conduct" of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, appearing with future co-star Werner Klemperer, who played a spy. He played Nazi villains in several later films: the German town mayor in The Young Lions (1958); Rudolf Höss in Operation Eichmann (1961); and Gregor Strasser in Hitler (1962). The year before the premiere of Hogan's Heroes, Banner portrayed a soldier in the World War II German "home guard" in 36 Hours (1964). Although it was a serious role in a war drama, Banner still displayed some of the affable nature that would become the defining trait of the character he would create for television the following year. By coincidence, during the final moments of 36 Hours, John Banner's character meets up with a border guard played by Sig Ruman, who had portrayed another prisoner-of-war camp chief guard named Sergeant Schulz, in the 1953 film Stalag 17, starring William Holden.
The comedy series Hogan's Heroes, in which Banner played Sergeant Schultz, the role for which he is most often remembered, debuted on American network television in 1965. According to Banner before he met and married his French wife Christine, he weighed 178 pounds (81 kg); he claimed her good cooking was responsible for his weight gain to 260 pounds (120 kg), which helped him gain the part. Schultz’s character is that of a bumbling, dimwitted, but ultimately lovable German guard at a World War II prisoner-of-war camp. The camp is used by the prisoners as a staging area for anti-German sabotage and intelligence-gathering. Schultz is forever becoming indebted to the prisoners, which they use for their ends. His main goal is to avoid trouble from his superiors, which often leads him to ignore the clandestine activities of the prisoners. (On those occasions he would often say his catchphrase "I hear nothing, I see nothing, I know nothing!" As the series went on this became simply "I know nothing. Nothing!!"). Banner was loved not only by the viewers, but also by the cast, as recalled by cast members on the Hogan's Heroes DVD commentary. The Jewish Banner defended his character, telling TV Guide in 1967, "Schultz is not a Nazi. I see Schultz as the representative of some kind of goodness in any generation." Banner appeared in almost every episode of the series, which ran for six years.
In 1968, Banner co-starred with "Hogan's Heroes" alumni Werner Klemperer, Leon Askin and Bob Crane in the Cold War comedy "The Wicked Dreams of Paula Schultz", starring Elke Sommer in the title role. After Hogan's Heroes was cancelled in 1971, Banner starred as the inept gangster Uncle Latzi in a short-lived television situation comedy, The Chicago Teddy Bears. His last acting appearance was in the March 17, 1972, episode of The Partridge Family. He then retired to France with his Paris-born second wife.
Less than one year after moving back to Europe, while visiting friends in Vienna, John Banner died on his 63rd birthday, following an abdominal hemorrhage. He was survived by his wife Christine.
|1941||Accent on Love||Austrian Tenant||Uncredited|
|1941||It Started with Eve||Party Guest||Uncredited|
|1941||Pacific Blackout||Unknown character||Uncredited|
|1942||Desperate Journey||Conductor on Empty Troop Train||Uncredited|
|1942||Once Upon a Honeymoon||German Capt. Von Kleinoch|
|1942||Seven Miles from Alcatraz||Fritz Weinermann|
|1943||Chetniks! The Fighting Guerrillas||Gestapo Agent||Uncredited|
|1943||The Moon Is Down||Lt. Prackle||Uncredited|
|1943||Tonight We Raid Calais||Kurz||Uncredited|
|1943||This Land Is Mine||German Sergeant||Uncredited|
|1943||They Came to Blow Up America||Gestapo Agent||Uncredited|
|1943||The Fallen Sparrow||Anton|
|1946||Tangier||Ferris Wheel Operator||Uncredited|
|1947||The Beginning or the End||German Laboratory Assistant||Uncredited|
|1948||My Girl Tisa||Otto|
|1948||To the Victor||Jacques Lestrac|
|1948||The Argyle Secrets||Winter|
|1950||Guilty of Treason||Dr. Szandor Deste|
|1950||King Solomon's Mines||Austin - Safari Client||Uncredited|
|1951||Go for Broke!||German Officer||Uncredited|
|1951||The Star Said No||Headwaiter at Mocambo's||Uncredited|
|1953||The Juggler||Emile Halevy|
|1954||Executive Suite||Henri (Stork Club Maître D')||Uncredited|
|1955||The Rains of Ranchipur||Rashid Ali Khan||Uncredited|
|1956||Never Say Goodbye||Oskar, the Baker|
|1956||The Power and the Prize||Mr. Ruloff||Uncredited|
|1958||The Beast of Budapest||Dr. Kovach|
|1958||The Young Lions||German Town Mayor||Uncredited|
|1958||Fräulein||Ulick, German Health Dept.||Uncredited|
|1959||The Blue Angel||Principal Harter|
|1959||The Wonderful Country||Ben Sterner|
|1960||The Story of Ruth||King of Moab|
|1961||Operation Eichmann||Rudolf Höss|
|1961||20,000 Eyes||Kurt Novak|
|1961||One, Two, Three||Krause / Haberdrasher (voice)|
|1962||The Counterfeit Traitor||Voices||Uncredited|
|1962||The Interns||Dr. Duane|
|1963||The Yellow Canary||Sam Skolman|
|1963||The Prize||German Correspondent||Uncredited|
|1964||Kisses for My President||Vasiliovich Alexminitch||Uncredited|
|1965||36 Hours||Sgt. Ernst|
|1968||The Wicked Dreams of Paula Schultz||Weber|
|1968||Star Spangled Salesman||Chef||Short film|
|1950||The Lone Ranger||Von Baden||Episode: "Damsels in Distress"|
|1954||Cavalcade of America||Unknown character||Episode: "Plume of Honor"|
|1954||The Public Defender||Mr. Lambert||2 episodes|
|1954||Rocky Jones, Space Ranger||Bovaro||6 episodes|
|1954||Adventures of the Falcon||Coldroski||Episode: "A Very Dangerous Bedfellow"|
|1954||The Whistler||Van Loovan||Episode: "Fatal Fraud"|
|1954–1955||Fireside Theatre||Joe / Josef Novak / Amos||5 episodes|
|1954–1955||Captain Midnight||Van Ronk / Goronov||2 episodes|
|1955||Schlitz Playhouse of Stars||Morris Odvarka||Episode: "The Cool One"|
|1955||Topper||Ali / Henri||2 episodes|
|1955||Damon Runyon Theater||Sgt. Heinz||Episode: "The Lacework Kid"|
|1955||The Adventures of Ellery Queen||Buehler||Episode: "Night Visitors"|
|1955–1956||NBC Matinee Theater||Unknown characters||2 episodes|
|1956||Sheena, Queen of the Jungle||Brunner||Episode: "The Renegades"|
|1956||Jungle Jim||Wilhelm Camphausen||Episode: "Wild Man of the Jungle"|
|1956||Alfred Hitchcock Presents||Train Conductor||Episode: "Safe Conduct"|
|1956||Private Secretary||Sandor||Episode: "Cat in the Hot Tin File"|
|1956||Screen Directors Playhouse||Prefect of Police||Episode: "The Dream"|
|1956||You Are There||Nazi News Dealer||Episode: "Hitler Invades Poland (September 1, 1939)"|
|1956||The Adventures of Hiram Holliday||Count Courtebiche||Episode: "Monaco Hermit Crab"|
|1956||Navy Log||Unknown character||Episode: "The Pilot"|
|1957||The Gray Ghost||Major Von Borcke||Episode: "An Eye for an Eye"|
|1957||Father Knows Best||Artist||Episode: "Brief Holiday"|
|1957||Conflict||Unknown character||Episode: "Blind Drop: Warsaw"|
|1957||The Gale Storm Show||Hans Schlosser||Episode: "Swiss Miss"|
|1957||The Lineup||Unknown character||Episode: "The Bay Meadows Case"|
|1957||Letter to Loretta||Hans||Episode: "Louise"|
|1957||Adventures of Superman||Bronsky||Episode: "The Man Who Made Dreams Come True"|
|1958||Studio 57||Unknown character||Episode: "A Source of Irritation"|
|1958||Telephone Time||Unknown character||Episode: "War Against War"|
|1958||Man Without a Gun||Max Brenner||Episode: "Headline"|
|1958||Cimarron City||P.B. Minscher||Episode: "I, the People"|
|1958||The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin||Baron Carlisle||Episode: "Grandpappy's Love Affair"|
|1958||Behind Closed Doors||Prosecutor Hoxa||Episode: "A Cover of Art"|
|1959||Shotgun Slade||Corneilus||Episode: "Barbed Wire Keep Out"|
|1959||Walt Disney's Disneyland||Office Supervisor||Episode: "The Peter Tchaikovsky Story"|
|1959||The Third Man||Steiner||Episode: "Castle in Spain"|
|1960||This Is the Life||Carl Brandt||Episode: "Red Tape"|
|1960||Alcoa Presents: One Step Beyond||Dr. Molhaus||Episode: "The Peter Hurkos Story: Part 1"|
|1960||Markham||Police Commissioner Langres||Episode: "The Cruelest Thief"|
|1960||My Sister Eileen||Unknown character||Episode: "Ruth Becomes a Waitress"|
|1960||The Roaring 20's||Otto Bauer||Episode: "The Velvet Frame"|
|1960||Michael Shayne||Dr. Hess||Episode: "The Poison Pen Club"|
|1960||Perry Mason||A. Tobler||Episode: "The Case of the Nine Dolls"|
|1960||Dante||Baron Von Zenger||Episode: "The Bavarian Barbarians"|
|1960||77 Sunset Strip||Carl Neuman||Episode: "The Antwerp Caper"|
|1960||The DuPont Show with June Allyson||Popper||Episode: "Silent Panic"|
|1960||Five Fingers||Saphani||Episode: "Final Dream"|
|1960–1963||The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis||Chief / Dr. Otto von Schwering||2 episodes|
|1961||Thriller||Prof. Martin Vander Hoven||Episode: "Portrait Without a Face"|
|1962||Outlaws||Wint||Episode: "The Dark Sunrise of Griff Kincaid"|
|1962||The Untouchables||Franz Koenig||Episode: "Takeover"|
|1962||The Dick Powell Show||Vandever||Episode: "Safari"|
|1963||The Wide Country||The Doctor||Episode: "The Quest for Jacob Blaufus"|
|1963||GE True||Hipp||Episode: "Black Market"|
|1963||Theatre of Stars||General||Episode: "Four Kings"|
|1963||The Donna Reed Show||Cruikshank||Episode: "Moon Shot"|
|1963–1964||The Virginian||August the Head Waiter / Gus Schultz||2 episodes|
|1964||Dr. Kildare||Mr. Schultz||Episode: "Goodbye, Mr. Jersey"|
|1964||The Alfred Hitchcock Hour||Dutch Customs Man||Episode: "Murder Case"|
|1964||My Three Sons||Chief of Protocol||Episode: "What's the Princess Really Like?"|
|1964||The Lucille Ball Comedy Hour||Guard||Special|
|1964||Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea||Russian Chairman||Episode: "Hot Line"|
|1964||The Man from U.N.C.L.E.||Dr. Foster||Episode: "The Neptune Affair"|
|1964||The Cara Williams Show||Zinzer||Episode: "Cara, Girl Genius"|
|1964||The Rogues||Steiner / Fat Man||2 episodes|
|1964–1965||The Baileys of Balboa||Hans||5 episodes|
|1965||Hazel||Mr. Mueller||Episode: "The Investor"|
|1965||Mister Ed||Professor Meyerhoff||Episode: "Ed the Artist"|
|1965||Kraft Suspense Theatre||Martin Rutke||Episode: "The Safe House"|
|1965–1971||Hogan's Heroes||Sgt. Hans Georg Schultz / Wolfgang Brauner||168 episodes|
|1966||The Lucy Show||Sgt. Schultz||Episode: "Lucy and Bob Crane"|
|1967||The Red Skelton Show||Sgt. Schultz||Episode: "Freddie's Heroes"|
|1971||The Chicago Teddy Bears||Uncle Latzi||13 episodes|
|1972||The Doris Day Show||Bruno||Episode: "The Crapshooter Who Would Be King"|
|1972||Alias Smith and Jones||Otto||Episode: "Don't Get Mad, Get Even"|
|1972||The Partridge Family||Max Ledbetter||Episode: "Who Is Max Ledbetter and Why Is He Saying All Those Terrible Things?"|
- "Actor John Banner (Sgt. Schultz) dies". Long Beach Independent. February 2, 1973. p. 2. Retrieved September 12, 2014 – via Newspapers.com.
- Charles Witbeck (April 16, 1967). "Ex-Villain John Banner Turns 'Good Guy'". Fresno Bee. p. 96. Retrieved September 12, 2014 – via Newspapers.com.
- Erskine Johnson (October 2, 1965). "Meet John Banner, He Ate His Way to New Character". North Adams Transcript. p. 11. Retrieved September 12, 2014 – via Newspapers.com.
- Susan King (March 24, 2013). "Robert Clary a survivor in life and entertainment". Los Angeles Times.
- Arthur Pollock (November 2, 1939). "'Pastoral,' a Comedy by Victor Wolfson: Ruth Weston and John Banner Head Cast at Henry Miller's Theater". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. p. 10. Retrieved September 11, 2014 – via Newspapers.com. Note his photo at the bottom left of the article.
- John Banner at the Internet Broadway Database
- "In Brief / Obit" (PDF). Broadcasting. February 5, 1973.