Born in Waterbury, Connecticut, on July 13, 1928, Bob Crane's colorful career included work as a disc jockey and television appearances on sitcoms, variety shows and game shows. One of his first acting credits was a role in the film Return to Peyton Place in 1961, followed the next year by an appearance on The Dick Van Dyke Show.
His first recurring role was on The Donna Reed Show as the Stones' next-door neighbor, Dr. Dave Kelsey (1963-1965). Immediately following that stint, Bob starred in his most famous role as Colonel Robert "Papa Bear" Hogan on Hogan's Heroes. In its first season, 1965-66, Hogan's Heroes was the only new series to do well in the ratings, landing ninth in the Nielsens for the season.
He received Emmy nominations twice during the run Hogan's Heroes. When the series ended in 1971, Bob went on to do a few television movies, such as The Delphi Bureau (1972), and theatrical films like Disney's Superdad (1974). In March of 1975, NBC gave him his own sitcom, The Bob Crane Show. It only lasted a few months.
Bob was found murdered in a hotel room on June 29, 1978. He was appearing in an Arizona dinner theater production at the time. In 1994, a jury acquitted a friend of his, whom police had charged with the murder in 1992.
As the highest-ranking prisoner of war, the cool and confident Hogan leads his men not to escape, but to stay put, spy, and generally confound their German captors. Whether he's romancing a French Resistance woman while Allied bombs fall all around him or impersonating a Gestapo officer at a neighboring Gasthaus, no mission is too impossible. With Col. Klink as his commanding counterpart, it's not difficult to tell who truly runs Stalag 13. Aided by his willing crew, Hogan's ingenuity easily transforms Klink, Schultz, and the occasional visiting Herr General into bumbling Teutonic "Drei Stooges!"