Lives of 'Hogan's Heroes' Cast Members after the Iconic Sitcom Ended
The CBS sitcom "Hogan's Heroes" gained fame for its distinct storyline set in the Nazi era and its fantastic cast. "Hogan's Heroes" was quite the unique show that became loved for its humor and story about a group of Allied soldiers in a Nazi camp. The series premiered in 1965 and quickly became part of the top ten shows during its first season. While "Hogan's Heroes" became a huge success it wasn't without drama. Stay tuned to find out about the controversial slogan, the show's original German roots and the irony of Jewish actors playing German men!
Although famously known as a host, Richard Dawson played the part of Corporal Peter Newkirk in "Hogan's Heroes." After the show, he went to become a panelist on the '70s game show "Match Game," before becoming the host of "Family Feud" for nearly a decade.
In 1987, he starred in his most notable film, "The Running Man," alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger, where he was cast as the antagonist. These roles made him a memorable star on-screen and saw his rise to fame over the years and to this very day.
Ironically, Werner Klemperer, who played a German Air Force colonel, was the son of a Jew who escaped Nazi Germany in the '30s. The actor served in the Army in the Second World War, before being offered the role of Col. Klink, which he only accepted if the producers agreed that the character would always fail in his plans.
Klemperer earned five Emmy Award nominations for his role, two of which he won. His other appearances were "The Simpsons," "Law & Order," and "The Last Temptation of Homer." He has surely made a name for himself in the industry!
Another character on the show who was affected by the Nazi's was John Banner, who took on the role of Luftwaffe POW camp guard, Sergeant Schultz. Banner was a Jew who was forced to flee his homeland to avoid being captured. Hence, he came to the U.S. as a political refugee until eventually becoming an actor.
Ironically, he made a living by playing the roles of the very people who took the lives of his family in his country, him being the lone survivor. His career included roles in films and sitcoms, including "Kisses for My President" and "The Chicago Teddy Bears."
After World War 2, Robert Clary became a singer in France then came to the U.S. to grow his career. The entertainer appeared on "The Ed Wynn Show" and later on "New Faces." In 1965, he was cast as Corporal Louis Le Beau in "Hogan's Heroes," and after appearing in films that were set in the war, like "Remembrance of Love."
He also joined the cast of the television series "Days of Our Lives" and appeared in "The Young and the Restless." Both of these show were big and gave this actor his fair share of fame and praise. He is most remembered for these performances.
Before performing on-screen, Larry Hovis made Broadway his home, appearing in the shows "The Billy Barnes Revue" and "From A to Z." He later moved to television shows, like "Gomer Pyle: USMC," "The Andy Griffith Show," and eventually, "Hogan's Heroes."
Hovis ventures into writing scripts like "Out of Sight" and "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In," where he also performed. After "Hogan's Heroes," he appeared in different programs, including "Alice," "Holmes and Yoyo," "Chico and the Man," "Adam-12," and "The Doris Day Show."
Ivan Dixon was among the first African-American male actors who landed significant roles in big television series. The actor played a POW radio technician on "Hogan's Heroes" for five seasons before leaving. In 1967, he earned an Emmy Award nomination for his role in "The Final War of Olly Winter."
He later became a successful director with productions such as "The Waltons," "Nichols," "The Rockford Files," "The Greatest American Hero," "Quincy," "Magnum P.I.," and "In the Heat of the Night." What an achievement! This actor and director sure left waves in Hollywood!
Bob Crane was already in his 30s when he started his acting career, first getting a role in 1961s "Return to Peyton Place." His role as the titular character Col. Hogan came after a guest appearance on "The Dick Van Dyke Show." The show was a massive success!
Crane's career continued to rise from then on, having his own show for a few months and being in several movies, including two Disney films. After a while, the actor's career started to slow down so he tried his luck in theater and landed the lead role in 1978s "Beginner's Luck." A month later, Crane was murdered in his hotel room.
INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT THE SHOW
The original script had the show set in an American jail. Series co-creator Albert S. Ruddy first set Hogan and his heroes in a domestic clink. He rewrote the script upon learning that NBC was developing a show titled Campo 44, which would be set in an Italian WWII prison camp.
In an interview that appears on the Hogan's Heroes complete series DVD set, Ruddy claims that it took him just a day to rework the show into its WWII setting. Three years ago, Ruddy and Bernard Fein won the rights to the show back from billionaire basketball owner Mark Cuban.
Richard Dawson wanted his character to have a Liverpool accent. The rakish British star originally auditioned for Hogan, but could not pull off a convincing enough American accent. Instead, he was cast as Cpl. Newkirk of the RAF.
Dawson at first performed the role with a Liverpudlian accent but was told by the network that nobody could understand him. Dawson switched to a Cockney dialect. When Beatlemania exploded in the States, Dawson jokingly told his bosses, "I told you so."
The actors playing the four main German roles were Jewish. Klemperer (Klink), Banner (Schultz), Leon Askin (Burkhalter) and Howard Caine (Hochstetter) were Jewish, and all but the latter had fled the Nazis during WWII. Additionally, Robert Clary, who played the cooking French corporal, LeBeau, had been interned at a concentration camp.
The show used the tagline "If you liked World War II, you'll love 'Hogan's Heroes'!" The tagline was sarcastically suggested by comedian and author Stan Freberg in an interview with Bob Crane in The Sunday Times, on September 15, 1965.
"Shall we say, 'If you liked World War II...you'll love Hogan's Heroes?'" Freberg dryly asks. "No, let's not say that, no," Crane responds. Nevertheless, it became the tagline. Just goes to show, sometimes the dumb ideas are the best ones.
A 'Hogan's Heroes' album was released featuring cast members singing songs from WWII. Clary, Dawson, and costars Larry Hovis (Carter) and Ivan Dixon (Kinchloe) — pictured on the album cover — used the success of the series to showcase their singing talents. "
The Mercedes touring car used on the show was one of three in existence. General Burkhalter, Klink's boss, would wheel up to the camp in the stylish Mercedes-Benz W31. Only 57 of the black and gray convertibles were constructed, and just three remained after the war — one belonged to the Spanish monarchy, another became a fire engine, and the last ended up in Hollywood.
Klink was actually a trained violinist. A recurring gag on the show was that Klink was a terrible violinist. In real life, Klemperer was quite accomplished on the instrument and the piano, like his father, Otto Klemperer, was one of the key conductors in 20th-century German classical music.
In 1968, many of the principle cast members made a movie together, 'The Wicked Dreams of Paula Schultz.' Crane, Klemperer, Banner and Askin teamed up for this big-screen rom-com about an East Germany pole vaulter. In his Kill Bill: Volume 2, Quentin Tarantino (undoubtedly a fan of Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS) has Uma Thurman buried alive in a grave marked Paula Schultz.
The set was blown up during the making of 'Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS.' What an ignominious fate. Hogan's Heroes was filmed on Desilu Productions' RKO Forty Acres backlot. In the making of the trashy 1974 exploitation film Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS, the set was destroyed for the final scene. Hogan's producers were okay with it, as it saved the cost of having the set demolished.
The theme song actually had lyrics. The chirpy instrumental march that opened and closed each episode had secret lyrics. Robert Clary, Richard Dawson, Ivan Dixon, and Larry Hovis formed a quartet of singing Heroes for the show's soundtrack.
The show was first aired in Germany in 1992 — and was called 'Barbed Wire and Heels.' Yes, though it took a quarter-century, the show did eventually air Auf Deutsch. To make the show go over better, the dialogue was rewritten to make the Nazi characters even more inane.
What do you think about these stars and where they are today? This series certainly catapulted them in greatness. Who do you think achieved the most success? Leave your comments below.