Did you know the comedy icons from Hogan’s Heroes could also sing? If you’re a true fan of the show, you’re going to want to listen to this album.
Hogan’s Heroes is a sitcom set in a Nazi German prisoner-of-war (POW) camp during World War II. It may be difficult to believe that such a serious topic could actually make for a funny sitcom. But the show was a success. In fact, with six seasons, the show became the longest broadcast run for an American television series inspired by World War II.
After the show’s success, Hogan’s Heroes stars, Robert Clary, Richard Dawson, Larry Hovis, and Ivan Dixon decided to show off their singing talents. The four released an album titled, Sing the Best of World War II. The group sang popular songs from the 1940s. The liner notes on the back of the album kept with the humorous theme of the show. The opening sentence for the notes read, “Would you believe World War II was funny?”
The Quartet Even Sang For The Hogan’s Heroes Theme Song
Most Hogan’s Heroes fans would be surprised to learn that the original recording of the show’s theme song actually included lyrics. But it did. However, only the instrumental version was used for the show. The same quartet who recorded the album, Clary, Dawson, Hovis, and Dixon, also recorded the theme song. During the song, they sing, “Heroes, heroes, husky men of war. Sons of all the heroes of the war before. We’re all heroes up to our ear-o’s. You ask the questions. We make suggestions. That’s what we’re heroes for.”
One Of The Show’s Stars Was A Real-Life Hero
Robert Clary, who played Corporal Louis LeBeau on Hogan’s Heroes was an actual hero of war himself. He was born in Paris, France where, as a young man, he sang for a Paris radio station. However, because he was Jewish, he was deported to the Nazi concentration camp in 1942. At the camp, he sang to an audience of SS soldiers every other Sunday. During an interview, he once talked about how he survived the camp.
“Singing, entertaining, and being in kind of good health at my age, that’s why I survived,” said Clary. “I was very immature and young and not really fully realizing what situation I was involved with… I don’t know if I would have survived if I really knew that.”
After his experiences during the war, how could Clary possibly be okay with starring in a comedy show about Nazis? During another interview, Clary explained the difference between what he experienced and what he portrayed on the show.
“Stalag 13 is not a concentration camp. It’s a POW camp, and that’s a world of difference. You never heard of a prisoner of war being gassed or hanged,” he said. “When the show went on the air, people asked me if I had any qualms about doing a comedy series dealing with Nazis and concentration camps. I had to explain that it was about prisoners of war in a Stalag, not a concentration camp, and although I did not want to diminish what soldiers went through during their internments, it was like night and day from what people endured in concentration camps.”