Hovis in Hogan's Heroes
February 20, 1936|
|Died||September 9, 2003
Austin, Texas, USA
|Cause of death||esophageal cancer|
|Alma mater||University of Houston|
Early life and career
Hovis was born in Wapato, Washington, and moved to Houston, Texas, as a small child. As a youth, he was a singer, appearing on Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts. Hovis attended the University of Houston. During the mid-1950s, Hovis sang in nightclubs with groups including the Mascots, and the Bill Gannon Trio. He wrote songs and signed with Capitol Records, which released one album. His biggest song was "We Could Have Lots of Fun".
Hovis began appearing in local theater productions. After some success, he moved to New York City in 1959 and appeared in Broadway revues such as From A to Z which showcased his singing and comedy talents.
Hovis moved to California in 1963 where he performed stand-up comedy and tried to break into television. In 1964, he was discovered by Andy Griffith's manager and was hired to appear on the TV series Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., where he played "Pvt. Larry Gotschalk". He also appeared on The Andy Griffith Show.
In 1965, when two other actors backed out of the television show Hogan's Heroes, Hovis was cast as "Sgt. Andrew Carter", a POW in a German prison camp who was an expert on explosives. In the pilot episode, Carter was a lieutenant and was only going to appear in that one episode. For the series he retained the character of Sgt. Carter, replacing a character played by William Christopher in the pilot. Christopher went on to play Father Mulcahy in the tv series M*A*S*H. In the series, Carter was of Sioux ancestry; Hovis himself was partly of Yakama Indian ancestry. Later, in an episode of the comedy Alice, Hovis played an American Indian police detective who arrests a fake American Indian conman.
While Hovis was a regular on Hogan's Heroes, he also did other work in the entertainment industry, including writing the screenplay for the 1966 spy-spoof Out of Sight. He also co-wrote Mitzi Gaynor's 1968 and 1969 television specials, and appeared in and wrote comedy bits for Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In.
After Hogan's Heroes
The show was famous for recycling actors in different roles and in later episodes, William Christopher (best known as Father Mulcahy on M*A*S*H) replaced Hovis. Hogan's Heroes was cancelled in 1971, but Hovis had moved on to appear on several other TV shows. He also produced and appeared in the mid-1970s game show Liar's Club.
In the early 1980s, Hovis toured in the musical The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas as Melvin P. Thorpe. In 1982, Hovis was a writer/producer on the So You Think You Got Troubles, which was hosted by actor/ventriloquist Jay Johnson. Later in the decade, Hovis teamed up with Gary Bernstein to form Bernstein-Hovis Productions, which produced the game shows Anything For Money, the original version of Lingo and the short-lived Yahtzee, a TV version of the classic dice game, for which Hovis also announced and served as a regular panelist.
Hovis was hired as a co-producer for the hidden-camera television show Totally Hidden Video, but was fired by Fox executives after Candid Camera creator Allen Funt filed a lawsuit alleging that Hovis had staged segments of the show's 1989 debut episode using paid actors.
- Wilson, Earl (Nov 27, 1969). "Small Towns Have Produced Many Big Stars". The Milwaukee Sentinel. pp. A33. Retrieved 22 May 2015.
- "Fox Fires Coproducer Of `Totally Hidden Video`". Chicago Tribune. July 13, 1989.
- "Producer of "Totally Hidden Video" fired by Fox for staging segments". The Modesto Bee. 13 July 1989. Retrieved 11 September 2012.[dead link]
- Hodges, Ann (13 July 1989). "Fox exposes phony segments on its `Totally Hidden Video'". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 11 September 2012.[dead link]
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- Larry Hovis at Find a Grave