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Bob Crane

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Bob Crane

Bob Crane
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.

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 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

Crane was born in [2] Later he became involved in his high school's marching and jazz bands and the orchestra.[3] He played for the Connecticut and Norwalk Symphony Orchestras as part of their youth orchestra program.[4] He graduated from Stamford High School in 1946.[1] In 1948 Crane enlisted in the Connecticut Army National Guard and was honorably discharged in 1950.[5]


Early career

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."

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.

Post-Hogan's Heroes

Following the cancellation of Hogan's Heroes in 1971, Crane appeared in two Disney films, Superdad (1973) in the title role and Gus (1976) in a featured role.

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.[6] 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.

Dinner theatre

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.

Personal life

Marriages and children

In 1949, Crane married his high school sweetheart Anne Terzian. They had three children: Robert David, Deborah Anne, and Karen Leslie. The couple divorced in 1970.[7]

Later that year, Crane married his Hogan's Heroes co-star Sigrid Valdis on the set of the series.[8] They had a son, Robert Scott 'Scotty' (June 4, 1971).[9] Valdis and Crane separated in 1977, but reportedly reconciled shortly before his death.[8]

Friendship with John Henry Carpenter

Crane frequently videotaped and photographed his own sexual escapades.[10] 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.[11] 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.[12] 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.[13] 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.[14]


Winfield Place Apartments (now the Winfield Place Condominium).
Apartment 132A of the Winfield Place Apartments (now the Winfield Place Condominium) 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, 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.[15] 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.[16]

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.[17]

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 John Henry 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.[18] 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.[18] In June 1992 Carpenter was arrested and charged with Crane's murder.[19][20]


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".[21] He testified that Crane called Carpenter the night before the murder and ended their friendship.[22]

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.[23]

Carpenter was found not guilty. He continued to maintain his innocence until his death in 1998. Crane's murder remains officially unsolved.[24]

Auto Focus

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 and sex addiction.[25]

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).[26] 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.[27]

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, which, Scotty claimed, disproved the allegation that his father had a penile implant.[13][28][29] The site has since been renamed "Bob Crane: The Official Web Site", and no longer includes a pay wall or controversial material.



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

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 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.
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ "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.
  5. ^ Newark Advocate, July 24, 1965, "Crane Gambles $150,000," p. 7; Stamford National Guard records, Stamford, CT.
  6. ^ Noe, Denise: [7] TruTV Crime Library, The Bob Crane Case.
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ (Katz 2010, p. 288)
  12. ^
  13. ^ a b
  14. ^ (Katz 2010, p. 289)
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ a b
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^ (Philbin 2012, p. 191)
  23. ^ (Philbin 2012, pp. 192–4)
  24. ^ (Newton 2009, p. 95)
  25. ^ Ebert, R. (September 2, 2002). "Auto Focus" Captures Star's Downfall. archive. Retrieved November 15, 2013.
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^


  • 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

  • Ford, Carol M. Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography (AuthorMike Ink, 17 September 2015, ISBN 0991033078, ISBN 978-0991033072)
  • 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

External links

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