Werner Klemperer, the beloved Colonel Klink from the sit-com Hogan's Heroes passed away on December 6 at the age of 80. Klemperer was born in Cologne, Germany, on March 20,1920. The son of renowned Jewish-German conductor Otto Klemperer, he and his father fled Germany after Hitler came to power in the 1930s. Beginning at age 22, Klemperer served in the U.S. Army until the end of WWII. His Hollywood career began with bit roles in several films. By the late 1950s, he was appearing on television regularly in shows like Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Maverick and Gunsmoke. In 1961, he played a small role in the feature film Judgment at Nuremberg. Later that same year, he played the title role in Operation Eichmann, (co-starring future Hogan's Heroes cast mate John Banner).
When approached to act in Hogan's Heroes, he made it clear to the producers that if Klink's schemes succeeded in any one episode, he would leave the series. During the show's run, Werner appeared with his Hogan's Heroes co-stars John Banner and Bob Crane in the romantic comedy The Wicked Dreams of Paula Schultz. His other work during the run of the series included Wake Me When the War Is Over, featuring a host of 1960s sitcom stars, including Jim "Mr. Howell" Backus, Eva "Lisa Douglas" Gabor and others. Werner received Emmy nominations for each of the six seasons of Hogan's Heroes and he won twice. Later work included numerous guest appearances on television, the 1972 TV movie Assignment: Munich and the 1977 miniseries The Rhineman Exchange. He also provided the voice of Col. Klink for an episode of The Simpsons.
Werner's extensive stage work included the Broadway production of Cabaret with Joel Grey. Having inherited his father's interest in music, among other pursuits, Klemperer conducted the Buffalo Orchestra, and appeared in the opera Abduction From the Seraglio.
Klink tries hard, very hard, but he is not exactly the prime example of efficiency. He does for German camps what the Hindenburg did for the dirigible industry. Unaware of the vast underground network beneath his feet, Klink attributes the lack of escapes to his own brilliant commandanting. His zeal to be the best camp commander on the block, however, is so infectious that even Hogan offers a helping handwhen he's not stealing one of Klink's cigars! We should point out that Klink is no more successful at finding a husband for his sister than he is at keeping prisoners in his camp.