Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography

Who Was Bob Crane?

Since the death of Bob Crane on June 29, 1978, there has been much speculation and conjecture about his life. All people ever seemed to hear about Bob Crane outside of his role on Hogan's Heroes, as well as an occasional mention that he was a drummer or that he had worked in radio, was that he had been murdered and scandal had surrounded his death.

As time went on, the jokes escalated and became darker in nature. After the 1993 book The Murder of Bob Crane by Robert Graysmith and the 2002 "biopic" film Auto Focus were released, the name Bob Crane became synonymous with shame, and public ridicule took on legendary status. All perspective on Bob Crane as a human being was lost, and he became nothing more than a two-dimensional cartoon character without depth, dimension, or definition. Bob's reputation was also plagued by a wealth of misinformation, including that he had dropped out of high school (he did not, and he graduated from Stamford High School in 1946) and that he had broken down on the set of Celebrity Cooks and made inappropriate jokes about sex and death (also not true - insiders affiliated with the show who were there on the day of his episode's taping claim emphatically that Bob was one of the best guests who appeared on the series, and had he done anything off-color or been emotionally upset, they would have stopped tape and canceled or postponed shooting the episode).

I have been a tireless advocate of Bob Crane's for most of my life, since the mid-1980s. In 2006, my path crossed with that of Linda Groundwater, an American living in Australia with her Australian husband and their teenage son. Linda, also a strong supporter of Bob Crane, had started researching Bob's life for a new, serious biography - one that would focus on his entire life and not dwell on his murder or the scandal that grew from it. However, living in Australia made it difficult for her to conduct research easily in the United States, and because I believed in her mission of telling Bob's true story, I came on board. Linda and I worked closely together for nearly four years, and we researched every inch of Bob's history and talked with approximately 200 individuals who knew Bob Crane better than most. These included members of Bob's family; friends as far back as grade school; co-workers in radio, television, theatre, and film; and the man who was helping Bob overcome his addiction shortly before the end of his life, Reverend Edward Beck. What we discovered was that there was much, much more to this man than the public had been told - and most of it was not only good, but exceptionally good.

Time and again, the message from those closest to Bob came across loud and clear. Bob Crane was NOT the depressed, lop-sided "character" portrayed by Greg Kinnear in Auto Focus. He was kind. He was smart. He was talented. He was driven. He was sensitive. He had a "sunny personality." He was full of life, laughter, and compassion. He was a loving father. He was a "genius in radio." He was an "actor's actor." He was a star but without an inflated ego. He was a perfectionist, but he was not perfect. He was working at bettering his life and changing the destructive behaviors in it - that he himself recognized and labeled as "addiction." He did this so he could be a better father to his children, all of whom he loved more than anything. He sought warmth and friendship and love. He was on the brink of starting his life over when he was murdered. Bob Crane was not ready to die, did not want to die, and should not have died in the manner in which he did. He had a full life ahead of him, one that included a new television series on the horizon. This is not the character in Auto Focus - the one who thanks his murderer at the end of the film and then forgives him. No. This was a three-dimensional human being full of life and hope.

This project was, from the outset, a personal calling for me. I traveled from one side of the country to the other, meeting and getting to know a great many people from Bob's life, and so many became dear to me. My heart and soul will always reside in Stamford, Connecticut; Stamford High School is my adopted alma matter; WICC in Bridgeport, Connecticut, WLEA in Hornell, New York, and KNX/Columbia Square alumni in Los Angeles are held on the highest of radio pedestals; and Bob's family and closest friends each have and will always have a permanent place in my heart. I have watched as some of Bob's friends and colleagues have crossed from this world into the next, and in a few special instances, have taken a part of me with them. 

I am now currently in the process of writing Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography. In light of the growth of this campaign and my endless research of Bob, and along with the total support of countless individuals, including members of Bob's family, his friends, his co-workers, Reverend Beck, WICC (especially Dee Young and Morgan Kaolian), WLEA, KNX Columbia Square Alumni Group (especially Michael Ambrosini and Raul Moreno), Joe Cosgrove, Leo McElroy, Linda Groundwater, and many others, I will, once and for all, set this record straight and show the world who Bob Crane really was - and maybe just as importantly - who he was not.

Carol Ford
September 16, 2012