On This Day: ‘Hogan’s Heroes’ Premieres on CBS in 1965

by Joe Rutland

Outsiders, possibly one of television’s most interesting hits premiered on this day in 1965 when “Hogan’s Heroes” started on CBS.

Why do we say “possibly”? This TV series, which starred Bob Crane as Col. Robert Hogan and Werner Klemperer as Col. Wilhelm Klink, pitted prisoners against the Nazis.

There is more to this series than meets the eye. Anyway, we’ll discuss that in a minute. Take a look at the premiere episode’s opening from 1965, courtesy of the Twitter account RetroNewsNow.

The “Hogan’s Heroes” prisoners are involved in a scheme of espionage and sabotage while being held captive.

John Banner played the portly Sgt. Hans Schultz, who was known to yelp “I know nothing!” when asked questions. Other members of Col. Hogan’s crew included Richard Dawson as Newkirk, Robert Clary as LeBeau, and Larry Hovis as Carter. Ivan Dixon played Kinchloe for five seasons.

‘Hogan’s Heroes’ Started Airing Episodes In Black-and-White Before Color Episodes

As for the German soldiers, Leon Askin played Gen. Burkhalter and Howard Caine was Maj. Hochstetter. Sigrid Valdis played their secretary Hilda, while Cynthia Lynn played another secretary, Helga.

“Hogan’s Heroes” was one of those shows on CBS that started out in black and white, then aired the majority of its episodes in color. They were prisoners at Stalag 13.

In an interesting twist of irony, all four main German roles were played by Jews. They were Klemperer, Banner, Askin, and Caine. Those first three fled the Nazis during World War II. Clary, who was a French Jew, spent three years in a concentration camp.

For a show taking its premise from World War II, “Hogan’s Heroes” holds the record for being the longest-running television series based on that conflict.

Klemperer Won Two Emmy Awards For His Work on TV Comedy Series

The show picked up two Emmy Awards as Klemperer won Best Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series. He won in 1968 and 1969.

This comedy about a POW camp in World War II was produced by Bing Crosby Productions. Yes, it was run by Crosby, a well-known actor, and a singer.

Here’s another little tidbit from “Hogan’s Heroes.” Remember that jacket Crane wore as Col. Hogan? Does it look familiar to some of you Outsiders who love war movies?

Maybe mentioning Frank Sinatra kicks in your memory. OK. Crane wore the jacket Sinatra used in his film “Von Ryan’s Express.” It made another appearance, too, with a Crane connection. Actor Greg Kinnear was able to put it on when filming the 2002 Crane biopic, “Auto Focus.”

That’s based on the 1993 book, “The Murder of Bob Crane.” This movie is about Crane’s life as a man who obsesses over women and films his sexual encounters.