Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas 2012!

From all of us to all of you,
best wishes for a very Merry Christmas!



Monday, December 17, 2012

Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown, CT - We Are Heartbroken

There are no words we can use to adequately express our grief and heartbreak at the horrific events of December 14, 2012. 
We wrap our arms and our hearts around Newtown and hold it close, keeping this community in our thoughts and prayers. 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Happy Hanukkah 2012!

Happy Hanukkah and warmest holiday wishes with the start of the Festival of Lights! 

While Bob Crane was Irish Catholic, many of the cast members of Hogan's Heroes were/are Jewish, including Werner Klemperer, John Banner, Robert Clary (who spent three years in a concentration camp as a teenager), Leon Askin, and Howard Caine. None of the actors were offended by the series because they appreciated it as a well-written parody and a way of fighting back with humor.

John Banner, Robert Clary, and Bob Crane share a scene
in Hogan's Heroes.
From its inception, Hogan's Heroes was drenched in controversy, mostly because those who did not watch the series were confused about its premise. Even today, people believe that the series takes place in a concentration camp, and thus, is inappropriate, inexcusable, and politically incorrect. After all, how on earth can that be funny?

The truth is, you can't make fun of the Holocaust and concentration camps. But Hogan's Heroes does nothing of the sort. It is a situation comedy set in a prisoner of war camp, and in ways that echo Mel Brooks' The Producers and Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator, the writers, directors, producers, and actors did make fun of the Germans - and more specifically, the Nazis - but never the war itself or its serious implications. And in some ways, it was quite therapeutic to many of its stars, all of whom were affected by World War II and the Nazis in some way in their personal lives.

"I think we make great fools of the Germans," Robert Clary said in a 1966 interview. "We are laughing at them."

Bob Crane concurred in a July 20, 1968, interview: "I've had people ask me, 'How can you make fun of a concentration camp? Think of all the Jews who were killed.' Well, ours isn't a concentration camp; it's a camp filled with soldiers who are prisoners. And their situations can be funny."

"Besides," Clary stressed, "the difference between a prisoner of war camp and a concentration camp is the difference between night and day."

Further, Hogan's Heroes can easily be considered the older brother of M*A*S*H. Many of the writers, directors, and actors who worked on Hogan's Heroes went on to work on M*A*S*H. In similar ways, Hogan's Heroes and M*A*S*H started out campy and light. As both matured over the seasons, the storylines became more serious and character development grew deeper. Hogan's Heroes ran for six seasons and was criticized as lasting longer than World War II itself. Yet, by season six, the episodes, while still very funny, had taken on more serious undertones than what as originally produced in season one. M*A*S*H ran for a mammoth eleven seasons, from 1972 to 1983, one of the longest running sitcoms in history. By the time the series wrapped, the storylines were far from funny, and the series had morphed from a half-hour sitcom into a half-hour drama with moments of dry humor.

Next time you watch either Hogan's Heroes or M*A*S*H, take note of the writing styles and character development across the seasons. You are sure to see some overlap!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

As we celebrate this day with our families and friends, we also take time to reflect on the people and things for which we are most thankful. And there are a lot.

We hope that this Thanksgiving Day finds you filled to the brim, not just with turkey and stuffing, but with happiness, fun, warm memories, and a peacefulness that remains with you throughout the holiday season and into the new year.

Best wishes for a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving 1971: Bob Crane and Beverly Garland (left)
hosted the Thanksgiving Day Parade in Philadelphia, while
Bob Barker and Gail Fisher covered the parade in New York City.

In 1972, AT&T produced a series of television music shows, Top of the Month. The full story by Jai Sharbutt of the Associated Press, originally published on October 12, 1972, is presented here, below the accompanying photograph. According to Sharbutt, Bob Crane's performance was one of the few bright spots in this noble but failed attempt by AT&T.


Bob Crane and Tony Randall celebrate Thanksgiving the old-fashioned
way - as Pilgrims and Indians - in AT&T's 1972 variety series, Top of the Month.

AT&T Offers 9 Special TV Music Shows as New Series
Top of the Month is a new television series of nine half-hour musical comedy shows. The first three have a lot of snappy patter, singing, dancing, and "sweetened" laugh tracks.

Producers sweeten a laugh track by dubbing in recorded chuckles when the audience response isn't exactly buffo. And Top of the Month may need that kind of sugar. It sure doesn't have the spice yet. Not even with a fine regular cast headed by Tony Randall.

A pity, too, because the shows, bankrolled by the Long Distance Division of American Telephone and Telegraph Co., are a valiant effort to brighten local television programming.

TWO CONDITIONS
AT&T's aim was to offer the once-a-month minispecials to local stations for use in the 30 minutes of prime evening time the Federal Communications Commission has taken from the networks and returned to local broadcasters.

Acting in association with the Bell System's 23 regional companies, AT&T' offered the shows free to local stations on two conditions:
-That the stations would show them during prime viewing time at night, with the choice of time and date left to the stations.
-That only four paid commercials-two from AT&T, two from the local Bell system-would be permitted while the show was on.

MONTHLY THEMES
The theme of each show is a given month - October through June - and events we associate with that month. The theory was that history would be presented with song, dance, and comedy skits.

In practice, the presentation burped, fell down, and died in the opening show, which checked out October with the help of Bonanza's Lorne Greene. The show appears on an estimated 110 stations this month. 

Too bad. The writing was feeble, the comedy skits weak, and the singing of costar E.J. Peaker flat. She's an excellent performer, and the vocal wasn't her fault. The problem was that it was her third "Month" segment in as many days. She was lucky she could talk.

An AT&T spokesman said the shows, about October, November, and December, all were taped from a busy Friday through a weary Sunday. October was the last in the series, and Miss Peaker was pooped.

NOVEMBER BETTER
The spokesman for the show said the tight schedule was tailored to accommodate the free hours of the guest starts. Greene, for example, couldn't do his bit until Sunday, the spokesman said.

Resting on the seventh day would have been the wiser course.

The November show was much better, only because of the comic timing of guest star Bob Crane in a funny Thanksgiving skit about Indians, Pilgrims, Plymouth Rock, and all that.

December's offering was memorable in that one rarely sees John Forsythe trapped in a spangled heliotrope jacket, leading a 1957 rock 'n roll group in an assault on "Earth Angel."

For the past five springs, AT&T has presented such memorable programs as Tomorrow, with George C. Scott, and The Record-Makers, with Flip Wilson.

The new shows are a radical innovative departure from the one-hour, once-a-years concerpt. But after the first three shows, all we can do is pray for a swift return of them good old days.

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Sharbutt, J. (1972, October 12). AT&T offers 9 special TV music shows as new series.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Over the Wall: 'Hogan's Heroes' in the Cold War - 'The Wicked Dreams of Paula Schultz'

In early 1967, producers at Samuel Goldwyn Studios (also known as United Artists Studio) hatched an idea: "Let's put the stars of Hogan's Heroes in a film together. It'll do great at the box office." It seemed feasible. After the terrific success of Hogan's Heroes, due in part to the talented actors and the natural chemistry that existed between them, a movie with the leading Hogan's Heroes cast and with Bob Crane in the starring role would be a draw for audiences.

John Banner, Elke Sommer, and Bob Crane in
a scene from The Wicked Dreams of Paula Schultz.
The script they had chosen was one that would undoubtedly fit the Hogan's Heroes actors' television personas well. Set in what was then present-day Europe and during one of the most heated eras of the Cold War, Bob Crane's character (Bill Mason, an American Black Market scam artist smuggling goods in and out of East Germany) would once again be pitted against the Germans - only this time, Communist East Germans instead of Nazis. Into their usual bumbling German slots landed Werner Klemperer (who is credited simply as Klaus), John Banner (as Weber), and Leon Askin (as Oscar).

Elke Sommer, the beautiful German actress, was cast opposite Bob Crane in the female lead as Paula Schultz. An East German Olympian athlete, Paula Schultz wishes to defect to the West. She enlists the help of Bill Mason, and the pair spend the movie dodging deception, falling in love, and on the run as they try to make their way over the Berlin Wall into West Berlin. Paula eventually makes the leap, literally, with her unparalleled pole vaulting capabilities. Rounding out the cast were Joey Forman and Maureen Arthur as Herbert and Barbara Sweeney, a married couple who act as the voice of reason to Herbert's friend Bill Mason, who Barbara neither likes nor trusts. 

In a January 13, 1968, article published shortly after the film's release, Werner Klemperer said, "If there are anti-heroes, there have to be anti-villains. According to my last two roles, who's a sweeter villain than I?...It's such a zany farce that our director, George Marshall, allowed me to play the role of an East German bureaucrat as broad as I liked. The character fancies himself to be a great lover - a veritable devil with the women. They gave me all the props - a silken dressing gown, long cigarette holder, and even a mirrored ceiling in my bachelor quarters. I go on the make for Elke Sommer and don't even consider it a rebuff when she pole vaults over the Berlin Wall to avoid me."

Bob Crane on the set of
The Wicked Dreams of Paula Schultz.
At the time he received the offer to star in the film, Bob Crane had been itching for the chance to make a different kind of jump - from the small television screen to the big theater screen. He wanted to follow in the footsteps of one of his screen idols, Jack Lemmon, and he was taking his acting very seriously. He had already completed a course presented by Stella Adler (read the article by Bob's son, Scott Crane) and turned down a mecca of offers, including the job that had gone to Johnny Carson as host of The Tonight Show. Bob wanted to learn the components of acting, and he also wanted success. The Wicked Dreams of Paula Schultz provided a rich and unique opportunity to star in a feature film and work along side fellow actors who he liked and respected in the field.

However, the film, which was released in the United States on January 3, 1968, was not the goldmine its producers and cast had hoped it would be. Instead, it was the first taste of typecasting the stars of Hogan's Heroes experienced, an unfortunate phenomenon that would plague Bob Crane for the rest of his life. Movie goers lined up to see Hogan, Klink, and Schultz, not this Bill Mason fellow, and his East German pursuers Klaus and Weber. Later on, some of the Hogan's Heroes cast who appeared in The Wicked Dreams of Paula Schultz would groan and grumble when anyone mentioned the film. Werner Klemperer flatly implored people, "Don't see it."

Yet, Bob Crane was optimistic, and while later on in his career he turned down film offers of a similar nature to avoid becoming a "Cold War comedian" (as he put it), Bob viewed his part in The Wicked Dreams of Paula Schultz as a credible acting opportunity and another chance to learn. In a February 1, 1968, article, Bob stated, "Being quite honest, I don't think it [The Wicked Dreams of Paula Schultz] will defeat TV snobbery. It will help as far as credit goes. I got my feet wet in the movie business, and I'm itching for more."

"The Love Theme from The Wicked Dreams of Paula Schultz"
with Bob Crane on drums.

Today, regardless of the film's silly premise, The Wicked Dreams of Paula Schultz has become a cult classic. Seeing our beloved Hogan's Heroes stars acting together in a different universe outside of World War II Germany and Stalag 13 is a rare treat, even if film critics and audiences in 1968 believed otherwise. It is not for sale on DVD through any distributor, but like any hidden treasure, copies can be found if one looks hard enough. By all means, find it and (don't listen to Werner Klemperer!) - watch it!

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References
Alpert, D. (1968, February 1). Movie snobs hurt television actors.
Associated Press. (1968, January 13). Klemperer sees himself as a sweet kind of villain. 


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Hurricane Sandy and Its Impact on Southwestern Connecticut - Bob Crane's Childhood and Early Adulthood Home

by Carol Ford

We know we've been unusually quiet lately, and October ended with a bang when Hurricane Sandy slammed into the Eastern U.S. seaboard. I reside in Southern New Jersey, and my family and I were smack in the middle of it. Although we were in the line of fire, however, our little corner of the world was miraculously spared any damage.

Others were not so fortunate, and in addition to the Jersey Shore and Lower Manhattan, the shoreline areas of Connecticut situated on Long Island Sound were ravaged by Sandy. Stamford and Bridgeport, where Bob Crane grew up, lived, and worked, suffered great damage, and even as of this writing nearly one week later, some are still struggling without power, gasoline, shelter, and other basic survival needs. During the height of the storm, WICC 600-AM Radio even succumbed to Sandy's anger when the station lost power and went off the air. Although online Internet streaming was available, WICC could not broadcast via the airwaves, and they remained quiet for more than two days.

In the video below from the Connecticut National Guard, one can see the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy. At about the 7:10 mark is Stratford, a neighboring town of Bridgeport. Also shown is Sikorsky Airport, which was completely under water.



Hurricane Sandy is not the first, nor will it be the last, major event to devastate a populated region of the world. In the same vein as Hurricane Katrina, the tsunami and earthquake in Japan, and Hurricane Irene, there is a terrific need for yet again another round of donations during a time when the economic burden is already high. We encourage your support, however, and we suggest either the American Red Cross or AmeriCares, which is based in Stamford, as two reputable organizations that will ensure donations are put to good use. 


For now, we'll leave you not with more photos of destruction, but rather, with optimistic views of Connecticut. Although a bit wounded at the moment, these and other areas of the East Coast will rebuild and shine once again!

Captain's Cove, Bridgeport, CT - July 2012.

Plane owned by Morgan Kaolian, friend of Bob Crane.
Sikorsky Airport, Stratford, CT - July 2012.

114 State Street, Bridgeport, CT - October 20, 2012.
Former location of WLIZ/WICC from 1951-1953.
Bob Crane worked at WLIZ/WICC from April 1951-September 1956.

Carol Ford at 114 State Street, Bridgeport, CT - October 20, 2012.
Former location of WLIZ/WICC from 1951-1953.
Bob Crane worked at WLIZ/WICC from April 1951-September 1956

Bedford Park, Stamford, CT - April 2009.
Bob Crane met his first wife, Anne, here in the early 1940s.

Boats on Long Island Sound off the coast of Connecticut.
September 2009.

Flight over Southwestern Connecticut - October 20, 2012.
With Morgan Kaolian and Dee Young.

Our thoughts and prayers are with all who have experienced personal loss due to the effects of Hurricane Sandy.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Bob Crane and Rod Serling's 'Zero Hour' / Hollywood Radio Theater

In 1973 and 1974, Rod Serling produced a radio program entitled Zero Hour. A mystery, suspense, adventure series in the same vein as the old-time radio broadcasts of the 1940s and 1950s, the basic plot typically featured a murder mystery, and often, a "Sam Spade" or other private-eye-type character who becomes involved in the drama and sets off to solve the puzzling crime. The radio episodes were similar to mystery television series, such as Columbo; Murder, She Wrote; and Ellery Queen. They were a mix of mystery, a little action, and some dry humor, and celebrity guest stars were cast in the leading roles. Rod Serling's Zero Hour was also known as Hollywood Radio Theater, and the Mutual Broadcasting System ran the series in syndication. The series was directed by Elliot Lewis, a voice actor and veteran of the Golden Age of Radio.

In July of 1974, Bob Crane starred in five episodes of Zero Hour. They are:

July 1, 1974 - Bend Spindle and Mutilate
July 2, 1974 - Murder Is a Work of Art
July 3, 1974 - Edwards Tug and Salvage
July 4, 1974 - Larceny on the Lake
July 5, 1974 - On the Lam

Because Bob was such a gifted entertainer and voice impersonator, he was easily able to disguise his voice - as he had frequently done during his years at WLEA, WICC, and KNX - and played the parts of several radio characters. Listen closely - in this clip from Bend Spindle and Mutilate, Bob lends his voice to all of the characters in the scene


 

Bob Crane's work on Zero Hour is just another example of his broadcasting capabilities, which extend far beyond disc jockey and morning radio personality, to include voice acting in radio theater as well.

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Note: The complete collection of Rod Serling's Zero Hour can be purchased online through various sources, including eBay, Barnes and Noble, and others.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Bob Crane Appears on 'Gibbsville' - December 9, 1976

Bob Crane appears as a news reporter
in the series Gibbsville.
"Trapped" - December 9, 1976
Throughout his career, Bob Crane enjoyed making people laugh. His radio shows were packed to the brim with his humor, and while spontaneous, were something for which he prepared extensively. As he transitioned from radio personality to actor, whether it be on television, film, or stage, Bob preferred comedic roles. However, Bob was also a serious actor, and he worked very hard at learning the profession by studying with Stella Adler and also by accepting roles that would help him expand upon his acting skills.

In the entertainment industry, an actor accepts a role not only for the art but because it is work, and work equals a paycheck. And quite often, unless he or she has made it to the "A List" in the entertainment world, one does not have the luxury of being very selective. Yet, Bob was extremely selective from the outset, turning down numerous offers over the course of his career and often at the expense of a greater salary. Some of the offers he rejected include replacing Jack Paar on The Tonight Show (Johnny Carson accepted the offer), Who Do You Trust? (after Carson vacated the role of host and moved to The Tonight Show), a pilot for a series where he was to play a radio personality (he turned down $300,000 a year), a permanent guest spot on The Ed Sullivan Show, countless Cold War-era film roles (in the same style as The Wicked Dreams of Paula Schultz), and co-host of Good Morning America (he was offered the position in 1974; Good Morning America debuted on November 3, 1975), to name only a few. Bob stuck to his mantra of considering and accepting roles that he believed were good for him, that helped him grow as an actor, or that he thoroughly enjoyed doing.

Bob Crane in the series Gibbsville.
"Trapped" - December 9, 1976

"I had a choice," said Bob in a 1972 interview with Copley News Service reporter Don Freeman. "When Johnny Carson took over The Tonight Show, I had an offer, $3,000 a week, to replace him on his old show, Who Do You Trust? But I picked The Donna Reed Show instead, for a lot less. I wouldn't have had to learn how to emcee a game show, but I did want to learn to act."

Bob Crane appears as a news reporter
in the series Gibbsville.
"Trapped" - December 9, 1976
In the series Gibbsville, starring Gig Young and set in a mining town in rural Pennsylvania during the 1940s, Bob plays a very unlikeable character: a big city news reporter who exploits the grief of the town after a mining accident to get the story. In one scene, Bob's character orchestrates the delivery of unpleasant news to the young wife of a miner who is still trapped below ground. Her reaction is caught on camera, and later, Bob's character catches a sharp punch in the jaw for his indifference toward the town's grief. 

It's not what we're used to seeing from Bob Crane, and his performance here is under-rated. We're so used to the likable Colonel Hogan, the quick-witted radioman, or the over-protective and slightly silly father (in Disney's Superdad). But in this episode, Bob takes on a role that is way out of his comfort zone - one where he does not make the audience laugh, but instead, makes them dislike his character immensely. To Bob, who chose his roles very carefully regardless of his financial situation, this was possibly more than just a role he took because it was a job. It was a chance for him to grow as an actor in his profession.


Bob Crane in the series Gibbsville.
"Trapped" - December 9, 1976

This is not to say Bob turned down every single job offer to come his way. He still needed to work, earn a living, and support himself and his family. Bob appears in dozens of guest-starring episodic work during the mid-to-late 1970s, a period of time where he was breaking free of the Colonel Hogan typecast and reinventing himself. However, Bob typically accepted offers that would allow him to learn, and that Bob was choosy in his roles is well-documented.

Bob's work on Gibbsville is significant and an all-too-brief look at the serious actor he was becoming. Had Bob lived, there is little doubt he would have continued to expand and excel at his talent, ultimately rediscovering his niche at the start of the 1980s, a decade full of exciting new career opportunities for the acting profession.

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Reference
Freeman, D. (1972, April 20), Bob Crane ducks TV show. Cape Girardeau Bulletin, p. 5. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Bob Crane Interviews Phyllis Diller Over KNX (circa 1960)

Today marks the passing of yet another Hollywood legend - a fabulous comedienne with "that crazy laugh" - Phyllis Diller, who died today at the age of 95. Born in Lima, Ohio, on July 17, 1917, as Phyllis Ada Driver, this eccentric and contagiously happy entertainer began her career in radio at KROW radio in Oakland, California, in 1952. The public took notice when she teamed with Bob Hope on television and on screen, and later when the pair toured with the USO during the Vietnam War. Her credits are extensive and noteworthy, and we won't pretend to do them justice here. Suffice it to say, her stand-up comedy routines and countless television and movie appearances have kept people laughing for decades.

Bob Crane interviewed thousands of celebrities at KNX-CBS Radio from 1956 to 1965, and Phyllis Diller was no exception. Between his wild on-air radio antics and her wild and crazy personality, this interview must have been off the charts! We present a portion of it here as a tribute to Ms. Diller, and it's certainly no surprise that she and Bob laugh their way through this clip from beginning to end.

Bob Crane interviews Phyllis Diller (circa 1960)
The Bob Crane Show / KNX-CBS Radio

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Bob Crane and the WICC-TV Family - See Us on Channel 43 (Bridgeport, CT)

Although we have already posted about WICC-TV (Channel 43) in the past, when new, remarkable pieces of WICC history are discovered, we naturally love to talk about it. And so is the case with the The Sunday Herald, a weekly newspaper that featured local stories about Connecticut, including Bridgeport, Stamford, and the surrounding towns.

The WICC-TV Family. Bob Crane is in the center back row, standing.
Morgan Kaolian is standing, third from left. Wallie Dunlap is
seated, third from left. Next to him, seated in the center, is
WICC General Manager Philip Merryman.

In the March 1, 1953, edition (beginning on page 90), the new UHF station WICC-TV Channel 43 was featured in a lengthy, sixteen-page supplement. It is packed to the brim with WICC history - from the birth of the radio station on August 2, 1926; to its on-air personalities and behind-the-scenes staff; to its takeover in January 1952 by WLIZ (the dominant WICC call letters remained, but WLIZ staff took control); to March 15, 1953, when WICC launched Channel 43 as Connecticut's third television station and the first in Fairfield County.

Page 1 of the supplement to the March 1, 1953,
edition of The Sunday Herald.
Design by Morgan Kaolian.
WICC was way ahead of its time. In fact, ti was so far ahead of its time that it left John Q. Public in the dust. Despite its noble efforts of trying to get the fledging station off the ground, it failed miserably - not for lack of talent, but rather, because the average person in 1953 just did not have the means or the desire to purchase the extra equipment necessary to receive the UHF programming. As the story goes, Bob Crane once told viewers he would give away $100 to the first person who called - and because nobody was watching, nobody did. 

Yet, the radio-turned-television entertainers that included Bob Crane, Morgan Kaolian, and many others reveled in the new medium, enjoying the novelty of it as well as the ability to utilize it as a learning platform for grander venues down the road. 

Whether your interest is in Bob Crane, WICC, radio, or Connecticut - or all of the above! - we think you'll enjoy perusing the pages of this historic document, rich with information and overflowing with photographs from the Golden Age of Radio and Television. It is a treasure not to be missed.


(Connecticut residents - Do you have a copy of this supplement? Let us know! We'd love to add it to our WICC/Bob Crane archives!)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

New Zealand's 'Radio Kidnappers' Pays Tribute to Bob Crane and KNX

Bob Crane and Pat Boone entertain Alan Hall
(standing), who was visiting from Napier, New Zealand.
Photo taken June 7, 1961 / KNX-CBS Radio.
Photo courtesy of Alan Hall. Used with permission.
In the spring/summer of 1961, a young man from New Zealand, Alan Hall, journeyed to America for a vacation abroad. All of 20 years old, he had never been out of New Zealand before. Having listened to KNX broadcasts out of Los Angeles regularly in his hometown of Napier, Alan wrote to the station, telling them about his ensuing trip and asking if KNX could recommend a family in the Southern California area that might be willing to host him during his stay. KNX did more than offer help Alan find local room and board. They took the adventurous fellow under their massive CBS wing and planned out a full Hollywood itinerary for him, which included his coming into the station and being interviewed by Bob Crane, Pat Buttram, and Ralph Story. KNX also arranged, through the president of Radio Recorders, for Alan to watch a recording session.

On June 6, 1961, Alan Hall was Bob's in-person guest on "The Bob Crane Show" over KNX, and Bob asked Alan why he chose to venture so far away from home and visit America. Alan answered, "To have a good look around and listen to as much American radio as I can." American radio, including KNX, had really influenced him, and he had wanted to experience it for himself. When Bob asked if he had gotten to listen to his show back home in New Zealand, Alan admitted, "No, unfortunately, but I listened to it yesterday morning and really enjoyed it." To that, Bob replied with his usual dry wit and a wry smile, "I've noticed your whole attitude has changed."


Dean Mardon, program producer and presenter for Radio Kidnappers, an Access Radio station broadcasting in the Hawke's Bay, New Zealand, listening area had received a recording of Bob Crane's KNX show when Alan had been the in-person guest. As a radio personality and musician who appreciated Bob's work in broadcasting, Dean decided to produce a tribute program about Bob Crane, featuring Alan Hall's 1961 KNX interview. After several months of hard work, the program was completed. It aired on Saturday, July 7, 2012, in Napier, New Zealand (Friday, July 6, 2012, in the U.S. and Canada). The program is simply terrific, and we can't thank Dean and Radio Kidnappers enough - not only for all their hard work in making this program available, but also for their strong and ongoing support of Bob Crane's induction into the National Radio Hall of Fame.

(Click on the image once and then again 
in the new window to magnify for easier reading.)

Listen to the tribute program to Bob Crane below!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Congratulations to the National Radio Hall of Fame Class of 2012 / Vote For Bob Crane: A New Direction

We just want to take this moment to congratulate all those who were selected for induction into the National Radio Hall of Fame Class of 2012. It is a great honor and career milestone to be recognized, and we extend our warmest congratulations to all who will be honored this year. 

It has come to our attention that public voting will no longer be a component of the selection process for induction into the National Radio Hall of Fame. Therefore, an actual campaign is not longer necessary in that regard.

But we're not going anywhere! We're simply going to shift gears a bit. "Vote For Bob Crane" will become a general public awareness campaign - not only for the National Radio Hall of Fame, which we will continue to petition, but for many other similar causes (for example, a certain Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is long overdue) and for continuing to highlight Bob Crane's life and work. We have a few other ideas as well, and a few media projects are in the works, too.

Thank you to each and every one of you for your strong and ongoing support. You help make all the difference! Stay tuned...we're nowhere near close to being done yet!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Bob Crane Overlooked for Induction into the National Radio Hall of Fame Class of 2012

Here we are again...

One year later, and those selected for induction into the 2012 Class of the National Radio Hall of Fame have been announced. Bob Crane is not among them. Instead, the nod goes to Howard Stern, who for several years has been by-passed by the National Radio Hall of Fame selection process, and as a result, has openly attacked their process.


As was the case in 2011, public voting has been suspended in lieu of the Steering Committee hand-selecting key individuals they believe have been overlooked in the past. In June 2011, the Steering Committee had made it very clear that Bob Crane's nomination would be retained on file, and that he would be considered for future classes.

While we do not deny Mr. Stern and the other members of the Class of 2012 their rightful place for their work in the broadcasting industry, we do wish those in charge of the selection process would recognize Bob Crane's extensive and unprecedented work in radio/broadcasting. We also wish they would let his colleagues, friends, family, and fans be heard through a public voting process, which for two years now, has been denied them.

Today, June 29, 2012, marks the 34th anniversary of Bob Crane's death. On this day in 1978, in Scottsdale, Arizona, Bob was murdered at 49 years of age. Although many suspect Bob's murderer to be John Henry Carpenter, who stood trial in 1994 and was acquitted, the crime remains officially unsolved to this day. Since his death, however, Bob has become one of the most misunderstood and ridiculed public figures in the world. 

Some Key Facts about Bob Crane
  • He was a pioneer in radio and broadcasting, inventing styles and techniques still used today by countless radio personalities, including Mr. Stern and many others who have been inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame.
  • He has been called a "genius" in the radio industry by those who worked with him.
  • He spent nearly 15 consecutive years in the radio industry, and he never fully abandoned it after he left KNX in 1965 to accept the role on Hogan's Heroes.
  • He was driven toward success and had a rich career that included music, radio, television, theatre, and film; in addition to acting, he was also a writer, a director, and a producer.
  • He donated much of his time to countless charities, including the U.S. Armed Forces Radio Network, Operation Entertainment, Cerebral Palsy Foundation, the Arthritis Foundation, and many more. He also was a frequent guest speaker at conferences and events, and in one year alone made more than 300 personal appearances for different charities, fundraisers, and community service events.
  • Just before his death, Bob recognized that his addiction - which he himself called an addiction - had become a destructive force in his life. He sought professional help to overcome it, and he did so for his children, all of whom he loved dearly.
  • People who knew Bob and loved him have called him a ray of light with a sunny personality. He could brighten any room just by walking into it. They are saddened and angered at how he has been remembered. Had he lived, he would have gone on to do many more great things in the entertainment industry.

Looking Toward the Future - 2013 and Beyond
We will not be deterred! We will now set our sights on 2013 and beyond. Whether there will be a public voting in 2013 or if the National Radio Hall of Fame Steering Committee will suspended public voting indefinitely remains to be seen. Regardless, your vote truly does count with us. And these things do take time. So please keep checking back for updates and continue to spread the word about Bob Crane. Write letters to the National Radio Hall of Fame Steering Committee on Bob's behalf. He deserves proper recognition, and we will see that he receives it!

Update - June 30, 2012: It has come to our attention that public voting for the National Radio Hall of Fame has been suspended indefinitely, and individuals for future Classes will be chosen by the National Radio Hall of Fame Steering Committee. We will, however, continue to petition the Steering Committee for Bob Crane's inclusion in the National Radio Hall of Fame. Our campaign will now also become a general awareness campaign, not only for the National Radio Hall of Fame, but for other similar causes. Stay tuned! We're not done yet!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Countdown to 2012 National Radio Hall of Fame Public Voting

We know....waiting's tough! But we're getting very, very close.

The National Radio Hall of Fame Steering Committee will announce the 2012 ballot for public voting very shortly. They usually announce it just before the end of June. The moment we know that Bob Crane's name is on it, we'll "open the window and shout the news" so we can start voting. Otherwise, we will begin campaigning heavily for 2013. 

Watch for information here on this blog, as well as:



Thanks again one and all for your ongoing support! 
Cross your fingers and your toes, and stay tuned! 

Friday, June 1, 2012

Happy Anniversary 'Vote For Bob Crane!' - The Year in Review

By Carol Ford

Bob Crane, circa 1966.
One year ago today, we launched the campaign for Bob Crane's induction into the National Radio Hall of Fame. It was not a decision I had arrived at lightly. In fact, I had not even considered a campaign at all when, on February 1, 2011, I submitted my formal nomination of Bob Crane to the National Radio Hall of Fame Steering Committee at the Museum of Broadcast Communications in Chicago on behalf of Bob's radio colleagues and close friends. However, with public voting being a part of the selection process for the National Radio Hall of Fame, public awareness became a necessity. For Bob Crane to have a fair public vote in the selection process, people needed to know that he was more than just Colonel Hogan of Hogan's Heroes or a murder victim. They needed to know that there was much more to him than what they saw in the media following his death. Indeed, Bob was a very deep and complicated human being, who - while not perfect - genuinely cared for others, was "sensitive and somewhat shy," had what many called a "sunny personality" and could brighten any room just by walking into it, is still adored by his family and friends, and possessed rare talents in music, radio, and acting - talents that must no longer be ignored.

I say without hesitation and with deepest appreciation that this campaign exists because of the efforts of some truly dynamic people - my own friends and coworkers - who practically gave birth to this campaign overnight.

The very first thing we did was launch a blog. Joe Tonzelli created the blog and the brand Vote For Bob Crane. On the evening of June 1, 2011, I received an email from Joe saying, "You are live." In the email was a link to the Vote For Bob Crane blog and the post below. Suffice it to say, we've come a long way! With the help of our Facebook and Twitter accounts, which had been set up by Katie Brownlow, we have had nearly 10,000 visits to the Vote For Bob Crane blog from all over the world.



On June 30, 2011, the National Radio Hall of Fame Steering Committee announced that they had decided to forego public voting for 2011. Instead, they hand-selected a few key individuals from the Golden Age of Radio who they believed had been overlooked by the public but who they felt should be included in the Hall of Fame. This list included Former President Ronald Reagan, who was honored with induction into the 2011 Class. However, the Steering Committee assured me that Bob Crane's official nomination would be retained on file for consideration in future classes. Therefore, we made the decision to forge ahead, our sights now set on 2012.

In January 2012, Bob Crane and his nomination for the National Radio Hall of Fame made headlines twice: once via a press release distributed via PR Newswire (with the help of Janet D'Alesandro), and again in a feature article written by journalist John Burgeson and published in The Connecticut Post. Earlier this year, we also launched our official Web site, www.vote4bobcrane.org, designed and created by Katie Gallagher. We also developed a YouTube Channel.

The support we have received has been tremendous. WICC 600-AM Radio in Bridgeport, Connecticut, was the first to endorse Bob's nomination, followed by the Connecticut Broadcasting History organization. Many prominent individuals in radio and broadcasting also added their support, including a great many members of the Columbia Square Broadcasting Alumni Group. Bob's dearest friends as well as his fans have shown strong support. Most important has been the ongoing support of Bob's family, specifically his now-grown children, who love and miss their father terribly and all of whom Bob loved and adored. It is for them most of all that makes everything we have done and continue to do worthwhile.

Bob Crane with first wife Anne and
children Robert David, Debbie, and Karen.
Bob Crane with second wife Patricia (Patty)
and son, Robert Scott.
  
Within the next couple of weeks, the official ballot of potential 2012 candidates will be announced by the National Radio Hall of Fame Steering Committee. It is our sincerest hope that the name Bob Crane will be included, and that this year, he will be recognized for his extensive and groundbreaking work in radio and the entertainment industry. 

Bob Crane in his KNX booth - circa 1964.

Bob Crane has been called a genius in the broadcasting field by those who worked directly with him. He is an unsung broadcasting pioneer who helped shape the world of radio, and he is most deserving of the honor of being inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame.

If you have not done so already, take some time and listen to Bob's radio show, and many segments are available right here on this blog. Visit our official Web site and discover for yourself what many have overlooked or forgotten about Bob Crane. Join us on Facebook and Twitter and become a real part of this campaign - your vote truly does count!

Thank you one and all for your support!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Freedom Is Not Free - Honoring Our U.S. Military Heroes / Memorial Day 2012

On this Memorial Day, we pause to remember and honor those who have fallen in the line of duty, and we thank all who are serving and who have served in our United States Armed Forces.

Benjamin Reim, Washington, D.C.
Photo by Jeff Reim

World War II Memorial for Alfred John Crane, older brother of Bob Crane.
National World War II Memorial Registry

The Bob Crane Show / Introduction
U.S. Armed Forces Radio and Television Network
July 1968



(Bob Crane gave many hours of his time to the U.S. Armed Forces Radio and Television Network during the late 1960s and also served in the U.S. National Guard in his hometown of Stamford, Connecticut, from June 1948 to May 1950.)

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Bob Crane, Radio's Man of 1000 Voices, Appears on 'The Twilight Zone' / March 1961

When Bob Crane was hired at KNX-CBS Radio in September 1956, CBS expected great things from their new morning man. And Bob did not disappoint. Having honed his broadcasting craft and successfully created his own brand of comedy on the East Coast, he had quickly earned a formidable reputation and a dynamic following on the West Coast.  

CBS also realized that Bob Crane was not going to be someone who would just settle in and be content doing the same thing over and over again for the rest of his life. Bob had already expressed an interest in acting, and the last thing they wanted was to lose their star right out of the gate. Included in Bob's contract with CBS Radio was a five-year no-acting clause prohibiting him from acting professionally during the first five years of his employment at KNX. While Bob did perform in community theatre in Southern California and make a brief appearance in the pilot episode for the unaired series Picture Window, Bob refrained from acting professionally between the years 1956 and 1961.

The Twilight Zone - "Static" 
Air Date March 10, 1961
Bob Crane / Uncredited Role as Radio Announcer
Starring Dean Jagger as Ed Lindsay (shown in this clip)

The moment the clause expired, however, Bob began seeking out acting roles. By 1961, after five years of working at KNX, he had already met, interviewed, and subsequently networked with most of the Hollywood circuit - actors, directors, producers, musicians, and writers - most of whom had been guests on his radio show. Bob had strategically placed himself in the best position possible to enter the acting field.

Bob's official migration from radio to television began with The Twilight Zone in the episode "Static," which aired on March 10, 1961. Although not a credited role, it was a role in which Bob was most comfortable - a radio announcer. It was the perfect vehicle for Bob to get his feet wet in television. Plus, this role was so much more than just one radio announcer; Bob plays the announcer plus a variety of different voices emanating from the sound box. Radio's "Man of a Thousand Voices" had just landed on television.

The Twilight Zone - "Static" 
Air Date March 10, 1961
Bob Crane / Uncredited Role as Radio Announcer
Starring Dean Jagger as Ed Lindsay (shown in this clip)

After his work on The Twilight Zone, Bob accepted bit parts in other productions, including Return to Peyton Place (released in May 1961), Man Trap (released September 20, 1961), and General Electric Theater in the episode "The $200 Parlay" (aired October 15, 1961), which also guest-starred Maureen Arthur. Bob would work with Maureen Arthur again in The Wicked Dreams of Paula Schultz (released October 14, 1968). Eventually, Bob was cast as Harry Rogers in the episode "Somebody Has to Play Cleopatra" on The Dick Van Dyke Show (aired December 26, 1962), paving the way for more substantial roles. Bob was hired shortly thereafter by Donna Reed to portray neighbor Dr. Dave Kelsey on The Donna Reed Show, with his first episode being "The Two Doctors Stone" (aired March 14, 1963).

Bob's versatile talents are clearly heard in these two clips from The Twilight Zone episode "Static." Listen closely. The voices you hear coming from the radio are mostly - if not all - Bob's own.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Bob Crane Introduces Dean Martin's 'On an Evening in Roma' - KNX / March 9, 1962

This one's for all our Dean Martin fans out there! One of our favorite recordings of Bob Crane's KNX radio show comes from the morning of March 9, 1962. Here, in this clip from that morning's show, Bob chats away after a Delta Airlines commercial; pokes some fun at his engineer, Jack Chapman; and then introduces Dean Martin's "On an Evening in Roma." Following the creative chaos, Bob plays the record, but not without adding a playful jab at the lyrics.

Take a listen - We bet you'll be humming this one for the rest of the day, not to mention wishing you were strolling down the avenues and streets of Rome!

'On an Evening in Roma' - Dean Martin
The Bob Crane Show / KNX-CBS Radio
March 9, 1962

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Bob Crane Appears on 'The Red Skelton Hour' - 1967

On January 10, 1967, Bob Crane appeared on The Red Skelton Hour, during which he played drums in a lively rendition of Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots Are Made for Walking" and performed a magic trick spoof with Red Skelton and John Banner. The studio audience ate it up, as Bob showcased his drumming talents and then hammed it up with Skelton and Banner. "Colonel Hogan" and "Sergeant Schultz" had many talents it seemed, and seeing them outside their normal setting was a treat.

Bob Crane on The Red Skelton Hour
"These Boots Are Made for Walking"
January 10, 1967

Bob made countless television appearances since his debut on the pilot for the unaired series Picture Window in 1959, and he was driven to keep bettering himself in his art and career. After his success on Hogan's Heroes, he wanted to make the jump into motion pictures and follow in the footsteps of one of his screen idols, Jack Lemmon. However, for many television actors - and even moreso for those who become television stars - it is a difficult move, even today. A television star can easily become typecast as his or her onscreen persona, and what the audience sees from that point forward is not the actor portraying a new role in a different show, but the iconic character playing that new role.

Bob Crane and John Banner appear 
with Red Skelton on The Red Skelton Hour
January 10, 1967

During his work on Hogan's Heroes, Bob received countless television and movie offers - many of which he turned down. As he said in a 1968 interview: "You want to be the best in your field. It's the opportunity to be choosy. I've been given more scripts lately by people who know I'll be on hiatus from Hogan's Heroes for five months. But none of the scripts are the kind of movie I'd go to. And I've read things similar to The Wicked Dreams of Paula Schultz, which is about an eastern European female athlete who defects to the West. I said, 'What am I, a Cold War comedian?' I turned down more offers to be Jack Paar or Johnny Carson or Steve Allen before the people on The Donna Reed Show gave me a chance to earn while I learned."

Bob Crane with Francine York and Red Skelton 
(as "Freddie the Freeloader") on
The Red Skelton Hour - January 10, 1967
Bob thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated his work on Hogan's Heroes, and he brought the character of Colonel Hogan to life. However, after the series was cancelled in 1971, he felt pigeon-holed by the character, and he was unable to get the parts he desired. When people saw him, they didn't see Bob Crane. They saw Colonel Hogan. Even some directors could not escape the Hogan facade, with one director stating it was like watching Colonel Hogan in the role.

It has often been said that Colonel Hogan is the role Bob Crane was "born to play." In fact, he played the part to such perfection that it appeared he did so effortlessly on screen. Nominated for two Emmy Awards, Bob lost out both times, with the main reason being that the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences did not think he was acting. In their eyes, Bob Crane was just being himself when he played the role of Hogan, which was not the case. By his own admission, he had worked very hard at the part, toning down his normally animated and jovial personality and allowing Hogan to become a more serious hero in the style of John Wayne, another of his screen idols. 

In the final years of his life, Bob was searching for a new niche, and had he lived, given his ambition and commitment to achieving his goals, he most likely would have found it. Just months before his murder, in the spring of 1978, Bob wrapped production on the pilot of a potential new television series, The Hawaii Experience. During the show, Bob served as host and tour guide, taking viewers around the island of Oahu and all of the Hawaiian Islands, giving the audience an inside look at Hawaii's tourism industry. Could this have been an unsung predecessor of The Travel Channel? We will never know. The project was abandoned shortly after Bob's death. However, The Hawaii Experience was an infantile step in the direction of reality TV as we know it today. Again, and as he always had been, Bob was lightyears ahead of his time.

Ultimately, Bob Crane will always be "best known as Colonel Hogan from Hogan's Heroes." But his comedic talent, acting capabilities, and audience rapport stretched far beyond this one particular character. Watching Bob perform different roles and characters in various settings, while removing the Colonel Hogan persona, one can appreciate his work in the entertainment industry on a much deeper, more critically acclaimed level.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Bob Crane Interviews Meredith Wilson and Rini Wilson - KNX / 1964

If you are a fan of Broadway musicals, then there is no doubt you know the name Meredith Wilson, whose plays include The Music Man (for which he won a Grammy Award for Best Original Cast Album), The Unsinkable Molly Brown, and Here's Love, a Broadway adaptation of the film Miracle on 34th Street. He also composed the score to Charlie Chaplin's 1940 film, The Great Dictator, and he worked with the United States Armed Forces Radio Network during World War II. In addition, he wrote many popular songs, including "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas."


In the spring of 1964, Meredith Wilson and his second wife, Ralini "Rini" Zavora, an accomplished singer, were guests on Bob Crane's KNX morning radio show. Of all the recordings we have of Bob's radio work, this is perhaps the most heartwarming. During their interview, Bob encourages Rini to sing "My Wish," a song from the play Here's Love, which was still in theatres at that time. With Meredith cuing the lyrics softly, Rini sings the tune perfectly. Bob then glides effortlessly into the cast recording, performed by Craig Stevens. None of it had been rehearsed or planned.

The lyrics are very touching, and they could have easily been written for Bob Crane. Bob's hopes were always high. During his short life, he achieved all his goals, and his star shone brightly. His smile was always radiant. His heart was warm, he was joyful, and he sought peace. Bob loved his family and his friends dearly, and his children most of all.

Both versions of the song as aired over Bob Crane's KNX show are featured here. We hope you find all that the song's lyrics wish for you.



Bob Crane Interviews Meredith and Rini Wilson
"My Wish" - Performed by Rini Wilson and Craig Stevens
The Bob Crane Show / KNX-CBS Radio - 1964

My Wish
May your hopes be as high
As high as the sky's highest star.
May your star be as bright
As bright as your smile.
May your smile be as warm
As warm as your place in the sun.
May your place in the sun
Give you peace.
May the peace in your heart
Give you joy in your heart
May your heart know the meaning of love.
May the love you will know
When you know you're in love
Be forever, and ever as true
As the love I have given to you.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 
Note: On December 6, 1966, just a couple of years after this interview, Rini Wilson passed away. Meredith Wilson passed away in 1984 at the age of 82. He is buried in Mason City, Iowa.