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Bob Crane
Bob Crane Colonel Hogan 1969.JPG
Crane in Hogan's Heroes, 1969
Robert Edward Crane

(1928-07-13)July 13, 1928
Died June 29, 1978(1978-06-29) (aged 49)
Cause of death Homicide
Resting place Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery
  • Actor
  • drummer
  • radio host
  • disc jockey
Years active 1950–1978
Anne Terzian
(m. 1949; div. 1970)

Sigrid Valdis
(m. 1970)
Children 5

Robert Edward Crane (July 13, 1928 – June 29, 1978) was an American actor, drummer, radio personality, and disc jockey known for starring in the CBS situation comedy Hogan's Heroes.

Crane was a drummer from age 11, and he began his entertainment career as a radio personality, beginning in Hornell, New York and later in Connecticut. He then moved to Los Angeles, where he hosted the number-one rated morning radio show. In the early 1960s, Crane moved into acting, eventually landing the lead role of Colonel Robert Hogan in Hogan's Heroes. The series aired from 1965 to 1971, and Crane received two Emmy Award nominations.

Crane's career declined after Hogan's Heroes. He became frustrated with the few roles that he was being offered and began performing in dinner theater. In 1975, he returned to television in the NBC series The Bob Crane Show, but the series received poor ratings and was cancelled after thirteen weeks. Afterward, Crane returned to performing in dinner theater and also appeared in occasional guest spots on television.

Crane was killed in June 1978.

Early life

Bob Crane was born in Waterbury, Connecticut, the younger of two sons of Rose Mary (née Ksenich) and Alfred Thomas Crane - the original spelling of the family name was Crean. He spent his childhood and teenaged years in Stamford.

Crane began playing drums at the age of 11, and by junior high was organizing local drum and bugle parades with his neighborhood friends. He joined his high school's orchestra and its marching and jazz bands. Crane also played for the Connecticut and Norwalk Symphony Orchestras as part of their youth orchestra program. He graduated from Stamford High School in 1946. Then, in 1948, he enlisted for two years in the Connecticut Army National Guard and was honorably discharged in 1950. The previous year he married his high-school sweetheart, Anne Terzian. The couple had three children: Robert David, Deborah Anne, and Karen Leslie.


Early career

Bob Crane in 1963
Crane in 1963

In 1950, Crane began his career in radio broadcasting at WLEA in Hornell, New York. He soon moved to Connecticut stations WBIS in Bristol and then WICC in Bridgeport, a 1,000-watt operation with a signal covering the northeastern portion of the New York metropolitan area. In 1956, Crane was hired by CBS Radio to host the morning show at its West Coast flagship KNX in Los Angeles, California, 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, Crane 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 Reiner to book him for a guest appearance on The Dick Van Dyke Show.

The Donna Reed Show (1963–1964)

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 show's storyline, and Crane became a regular cast member, beginning with the episode "Friends and Neighbors". 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.

Hogan's Heroes (1965–1971)

In 1965, Crane was offered the starring role in a CBS television sitcom set in a World War II POW camp. Hogan's Heroes involved the sabotage and espionage missions of Allied soldiers, led by Colonel Robert Hogan, from under the noses of the oblivious Germans guarding them. The show was an immediate hit, finishing in the top 10 in its first year. The series lasted for six seasons on CBS, and Crane was nominated for an Emmy Award in 1966 and 1967.

After having a love affair with Hogan co-star Cynthia Lynn, the actress who played Helga, Crane became romantically involved with Lynn's replacement Patricia Olson in 1968, who played Hilda under the stage name Sigrid Valdis. Crane divorced Terzian in 1970, just before their 21st anniversary, and married Olson on the set of the show later that year, with series co-star Richard Dawson serving as best man. Their son, Scotty, was born in 1971, and they later adopted a daughter, Ana Marie. Crane and Olson separated in 1977, but according to several family members, had reconciled shortly before Crane's death in June, 1978.

After Hogan's Heroes

In 1968, Crane and Hogan co-stars 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.

Following the cancellation of Hogan's Heroes in 1971, Crane appeared in two Disney films: Superdad (1973), in the title role, and a small role in 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.

Between theater engagements, Crane guest-starred in a number of television shows, including Police Woman, Gibbsville, Quincy, M.E., and The Love Boat. In 1975, he returned to television with his own series, The Bob Crane Show on NBC, which was cancelled after thirteen 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. after his death the following June. His appearance on Celebrity Cooks was broadcast in Canada in late 1978, and was recreated in the biopic film Auto Focus.


Crane's body was found on June 29, 1978. The police ruled his death a homicide.

Crane's funeral was held on July 5, 1978, at St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church in Westwood, Los Angeles. An estimated 200 family members and friends attended, including John Astin and his wife, Patty Duke and Carroll O'Connor. Pallbearers included Hogan's Heroes producer Edward Feldman, co-stars Robert Clary and Larry Hovis, and Crane's son Robert. He was interred in Oakwood Memorial Park in Chatsworth, California. Patricia Olson later had his remains relocated to Westwood Village Memorial Park in Westwood, and after her death in 2007, she was buried beside him under her stage name, Sigrid Valdis.



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 His final film role


Year Title Role Notes
1953 General Electric Theater Episode: "Ride the River"
1959 Picture Window Jerry McEvoy Unaired pilot
1961 The Twilight Zone Disc Jockey Episode: "Static", uncredited
1961 General Electric Theater 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 Prof. Arlen Episode: "A Hall Full of Strangers"
1963–65 The Donna Reed Show Dr. Dave Kelsey 62 episodes
1965–71 Hogan's Heroes Col. Robert E. Hogan 168 episodes
1966 The Lucy Show Himself Episode: "Lucy and Bob Crane"
1966 Password Himself Game Show Contestant / Celebrity Guest Star
1967 The Green Hornet Uncredited Non Speaking Role 1 episode
1967 The Red Skelton Show Col. Hogan Episode: "Freddie's Heroes"
1969 Arsenic and Old Lace Mortimer Brewster Television film
1969 Love, American Style Howard Melville Episode: "Love and the Modern Wife"
1971 Love, American Style Mark Episode: "Love and the Logical Explanation"
1971 Love, American Style Episode: "Love and the Waitress"
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 Tattletales Himself Game Show Contestant / Celebrity Guest Star
1974 Police Woman Larry Brooks Episode: "Requiem for Bored Wives'
1975 The Bob Crane Show Bob Wilcox 14 episodes
1976 Joe Forrester Alban 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 Haunting We Will Go"
1978 The Love Boat Edward 'Teddy' Anderson Episode: "Too Hot to Handle/Family Reunion/Cinderella Story", (final appearance)

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Title of work Nominated/Won
1966 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series Hogan's Heroes Nominated
1967 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series Hogan's Heroes Nominated

See also

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