WWII comedy Hogan’s Heroes, about a group of allied prisoners running clandestine operations out of a Nazi POW camp, aired for six seasons on CBS from 1965 to 1971. The “Hogan’s Heroes” cast included real life WWII soldiers, a Holocaust suvivor, a game show host, a television director, and the victim of a brutal slaying.
Fifty years after the 168th and final episode aired, only two members of the “Hogan’s Heroes” cast are still alive. Find out what the comedy’s actors did after the show ended and how they died.
Hogan’s Heroes Cast Lead Bob Crane
Crane was cast as Colonel Robert Hogan, the ranking officer at the POW camp, who cleverly leads the men in his command on missions to undermine the Nazis’ war efforts while under their capture. He appeared in all 168 episodes of the show, but the actor’s star fell after the series ended and his enthusiasm for pornography made him virtually uncastable in Hollywood.
Crane died on June 29, 1978 at the age of 49, while he was touring with a dinner theater production in Scottsdale, AZ. The series’ star was brutally murdered in his apartment, where he was bludgeoned to death with an unknown object. His killer was never identified, but the list of suspects ranges from spurned lovers and jealous boyfriends, to a kinky friend, and even a fellow Hogan’s Heroes’ castmate.
Crane’s death is considered one of the greatest unsolved Hollywood murder mysteries of all time.
Hogan’s Heroes Cast Villain Werner Klemperer
Klemperer played inept Colonel Wilhelm Klink, who thinks he runs a no-nonsense camp with a sterling record, while blissfully unaware of Hogan’s consistent counterintelligence operations.
Klemperer was a WWII Army veteran prior to the series, where he spent his tour of service entertaining troops in the Pacific with the Special Services unit. The Jewish actor went on to accept the role of the Nazi prison warden on the condition that his character would be a buffoon who was never allowed to succeed.
He was nominated for six Emmy’s for his portrayal of Klink, winning back-to-back awards in 1968 and 1969. He went on to earn a Tony Award for his performance in 1987’s “Cabaret,” and reprised his Hogan’s Heroes role in a 1993 episode of “The Simpsons.”
Klemperer died of cancer at the age of 80, on December 6, 2000 in his Manhattan home.
Hogan’s Heroes Cast Fool John Banner
Banner played the POW camp’s first sergeant, Sergeant Hans Schultz, a lovably clumsy imbecile, who was bribed by the inmates to look the other way for gourmet food.
Schultz was often aware of the Heroes’ antics, because Hogan knew he would never report on them in fear of being sent to the Russian front as a punishment. The character often feigned ignorance to evidence of the American’s schemes by uttering the famous catchphrase, “I see nothing! I hear nothing, I know nothing.”
Banner, who was Jewish, emigrated to the United States by way of Austria-Hungary, and went on to serve as an actual Army Air Force sergeant during WWII.
After the show ended, Banner moved back to Europe, and died on January 28, 1973 of a stomach hemorrhage while he was visiting friends in Vienna.
Hogan’s Heroes Cast Chef Robert Clary
Clary was cast as Corporal Louis LeBeau, a gourmet chef, who wooed Schultz into submission with his cooking and trained the camp’s guard dogs to love the POWs, so they could sneak in and out of the camp.
Clary was a French performer living in Paris, when he was sent to a Nazi concentration camp in Poland in 1942 because he is of Jewish descent. The actor said he only survived the dehumanizing experience because he was in good enough health to entertain SS soldiers.
He was liberated from the camp on April 11, 1945, but was the only survivor of his 12 immediate family members, who had not made it out of Nazi deathcamp Auschwitz. At the age of 95, the actor is one of two surviving cast members of “Hogan’s Heroes.”
Hogan’s Heroes Cast Conman Richard Dawson
The actor was cast as Corporal Peter Newkirk, the conman and lock picker of the group, who made it possible for the prisoners to impersonate German officials by utilizing his skills as a tailor.
The native Englishman was evacuated with other children during WWII, while his parents worked for the war effort as a driver and a munitions factory worker. At 14, Dawson joined the British Merchant Navy and became a comedian after his discharge.
Following the end of “Hogan’s Heroes,” he was cast as a regular on “Match Game,” then used his popularity from that role to get hired as the host of “Family Feud,” which he won a Daytime Emmy Award for. He was also a recurring guest host on the “Tonight Show,” when star Johnny Carson needed a night off.
His most critically lauded performance came from playing evil game show host Damon Killian opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1987’s “Running Man.” The four pack-a-day smoker died from complications of esophageal cancer at 79-years-old on June 2, 2012.
Hogan’s Heroes Cast Demolition Expert Larry Hovis
Hovis played bomb maker and explosives expert, Technical Sergeant Andrew Carter, who built explosive devices to foil the Nazis’ plans.
Prior to the series, Hovis was a regular on “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.” and “The Andy Griffith Show.” The actor replaced Leonid Kinskey, who bowed out of the series after the pilot episode, when he did not want to be on a show portraying fictional Nazis.
Hovis appeared in “Match Game” with co-star Richard Dawson, and was the co-creator of comedy series “Laugh-In.” He died at the age of 67, on September 9, 2003 of esophageal cancer.
Hogan’s Heroes Cast Communications Expert Ivan Dixon
Dixon was the first Black actor cast in the show, appearing as Staff Sergeant James Kinchloe, the communications expert responsible for transmitting the POW’s messages to the Allied underground.
Dixon was the only member of the long-time cast to leave the show before the final season, so he could go on to become a television director for hit television show’s “The Waltons,” “The Bionic Woman,” “The A-Team,” and “Magnum, P.I.,” amongst others.
The double threat actor/director died at the age of 76 from complications of kidney failure, on March 16, 2008.
Hogan’s Heroes Cast Engineer Kenneth Washington
Washington played Sergeant Richard Baker on the last season of Hogan’s Heroes following the departure of Ivan Dixon, largely taking over the engineer role from Kinchloe. After the series ended, he was cast in guest roles on “The Rockford Files,” “Police Story,” and “A Different World.”
At the age of 74, Washington is the only other surviving member of the “Hogan’s Heroes” cast.
Hogan’s Heroes Cast Original Secretary Cynthia Lynn
Lynn joined the series during season one as Colonel Klink’s secretary “Fräulein Helga,” but was replaced prior to the second season of the show after becoming romantically linked with then married show lead Bob Crane.
Lynn appeared in “Gidget Grows Up,” “Mission: Impossible,” and the “Odd Couple,” before taking her last bow in a 1975 episode of “Harry O.”
The actress died from complications of hepatitis at the age of 76, after going into multiple organ failure on March 10, 2014.
Hogan’s Heroes Cast New Secretary Sigrid Valdis
Valdis replaced Lynn as Colonel Klink’s secretary, Hilda, for the final five seasons of the series. She went on to have an affair with then married star Bob Crane, who divorced his highschool sweetheart, Anne Terzian, so they could get hitched.
Valdis and Crane were married on the show’s set in October of 1970, with Richard Dawson serving as Crane’s best man. She retired from acting after the birth of the couple’s first son in 1971.
The actress’s marriage to Crane became strained due to his excessive philandering, and they were living separately at the time of his brutal murder in 1978.
His eldest son Robert has made accusations that Valdis could have been the person responsible for his death, as the couple was heading towards divorce, and she was the only one who would financially benefit from his death.
She died of lung cancer at the age of 72, on October 14, 2007.