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Hogan's Homicide: The Strange Life And Death Of Bob Crane

Entertainment | November 9, 2017

Left: Bob Crane with Sigrid Valdis, a fellow 'Hogan's Heroes' cast member and Crane's second wife, 1969. Right: Crane demonstrating his enthusiasm as an amateur photographer in 1965. Sources: Wikimedia Commons; CBS via Getty Images

As Colonel Hogan on Hogan's Heroes, Bob Crane played an American prisoner of war held by Nazi Germans during World War II. It was a strange premise for a sitcom, but American viewers suspended their disbelief and the show was a hit. Bob Crane's private life and untimely 1978 death were another matter -- the nation had a hard time reconciling the jovial TV personality with debauchery and murder.

Hogan’s Heroes aired from 1965 to 1971. Colonel Hogan and his men had the ability to escape but remained captive in German POW camp, Stalag 13, in an effort to advance the American cause. In short, Colonel Hogan and his men made fools of the German officers who were in charge of them.

Bob Crane Had Been Successful Before And After 'Hogan's Heroes'

There was much more to Bob Crane. He was also a musician, a radio host and a disc jockey. Prior to the series Hogan’s Heroes, he had been seen on The Donna Reed Show and The Dick Van Dyke Show. His celebrity acquaintances, including Johnny Carson, Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra and Bob Hope, most definitely didn’t hurt his image. Crane appeared on popular shows including The Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. After Hogan’s Heroes was cancelled, Crane appeared in a couple of Disney productions, and dabbled in some other projects -- he was a working actor, but never again became the sort of ubiquitous celebrity he'd been while the show was on the air.

Crane Liked To Film His Sexual Exploits

Crane was no doubt talented -- he was also a kinky lover. He was known as a womanizer, and exploited his celebrity status for his own sensual pleasures. For Crane, there was more to it than just picking up women for sexual conquests -- he was compelled to film these adventures. Crane had a close friend, John Henry Carpenter, who worked for Sony Electronics who assisted him with his recording equipment needs. He enjoyed revisiting his sexual experiences. Still today, it is unclear which of his sexual partners, if any, knew they were being filmed.

Bob Crane Was Murdered In 1978

In 1978, Bob Crane was living in Scottsdale, Arizona while involved in an acting engagement. When he didn’t show for a business meeting, a concerned co-star went to his apartment. She discovered Crane’s dead body, with an electrical cord wrapped around his neck. Despite the cord being wrapped around his neck, it was determined that he had been bludgeoned to death. It was never confirmed, but the object that was used to kill Bob Crane was thought to be a camera tripod.

Carpenter Was The Prime Suspect

The main suspect was John Carpenter, the friend and Sony executive, who was possibly thought to have had homosexual interests in Crane. Crane reportedly attempted to end the friendship and relationship with Carpenter just prior to his death. It couldn’t be disputed, however, that the killer may have been a jealous husband or boyfriend of one of Crane’s sex partners.

The Investigation Wasn't Thorough

At the time of the investigation,  Scottsdale, Arizona didn’t have the manpower or the technology to properly handle the murder case. In 1994, the murder case was re-opened, and Carpenter was acquitted. To this day, the identity of the murderer remains a mystery.

Tags: Bob Crane | Crime In The 1970s | Hogans Heroes | What Did He Do?...

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Rebeka Knott

Writer

Rebeka grew up in the 1960’s & 1970’s and has always subscribed to the theory that a positive attitude will take you far! She is a wife and mother of 3 with a fun-loving spirit, believing that family and relationships are invaluable.