celebrity crime

The Assasination of Robert Kennedy

Robert-F_-Kennedy_1838259cIn 1968, Senator Robert Kennedy was shot to death during a campaign stop at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. This tragedy ushered a new Secret Service duty of protecting presidential candidates.

Hotel busboy Juan Ramirez was shaking the senator’s hand when the shots were fired. He now has his own family and lives in San Jose – this is an excellent follow-up piece on Ramirez.

Kennedy had an entourage with him as he was attacked in the hotel kitchen, and panic and confusion ensued when the shots were fired. Writer George Plimpton, who was a personal friend of Kennedy, assisted in wrestling Sirhan to the floor with one of Kennedy’s private bodyguards. Sirhan continued firing the gun during the struggle, wounding William Weisel of ABC News, Paul Schrade of the United Auto Workers union, Democratic Party activist Elizabeth Evans, Ira Goldstein of the Continental News Service, and Kennedy campaign volunteer Irwin Stroll.

Officially, Palestinian Arab Sirhan Sirhan was convicted of the murder – he was apprehended at the scene with a gun – but like all Kennedy-related scandals, there are conspiracy theories. Nonetheless, Sirhan Sirhan is still living out a life sentence at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego County, California. His crime is widely credited as the first act of political violence over the Arab-Israeli conflict.

George Plimpton died in 2003 after a versatile career as a writer and actor (he has a cameo as a psychologist in Good Will Hunting).

William Weisel continued to cover politics for NBC news for another 12 years before relocating to Napa Valley and retiring from journalism to enter the restaurant business.

Paul Schrade was not re-elected to union office after the assassination and took a factory job. He has repeatedly accused the LAPD of botching the investigation into the assassination and still believes that there was a second gunman present.

Irwin Stroll went on to become an interior designer to the stars and died in 1995.

Ira Goldstein left journalism to start a privately-owned business – he does not give interviews.

Elizabeth Evans faded from politics after the shooting – her whereabouts are unknown.

If you’re interested in the conspiracy rabbit hole, a new book due out this November entitled A Lie Too Big to Fail will detail the LAPD’s investigation and basically tear it apart – you can pre-order a copy on Amazon here.

The unsolved murder of Bob Crane

Bob Crane in Hogan’s Heroes garb

Bob Crane starred in one of my parents’ favorite shows when I was a child: Hogan’s Heroes. Hogan’s Heroes was a comedy about American G.I.s being held prisoner by bumbling Nazis during World War II (that’s risky). In the late sixties and early seventies, Bob Crane was a major TV star.

His acting career floundered after the show was cancelled, but his name roared back into the headlines in 1978 when he was found in his Arizona apartment, bludgeoned to death in his bed.

Bob Crane at the time of his death was leading a seedier lifestyle than many would have assumed from his handsome, white bread image on television. He had become fascinated with the technology of videos and making amatuer movies – pornos, more specifically. He had divorced hi first wife, separated from his second, and led a sexually adventurous life, often with his friend John Carpenter by his side (literally). Carpenter was a sales rep for a video corporation and was introduced to Bob Crane in order to help Crane get started making his own videos.

In 1978 after a night of barhopping with his friend and some acquaintances, Bob Crane was never seen alive again. A friend found his body late the next morning. There was no sign of forced entry, and none of the valuable video equipment in the apartment had been taken. Crane had been beaten to death with a camera tripod and had a cord from a VCR around his neck.

John Carpenter was considered a suspect early on because of his odd behavior right after the murder. Crane had been arguing over the phone with his wife Sigrid Valdis the night of his murder, but Valdis had an alibi that put her several states away. John Carpenter was tried for Crane’s murder in the 1990’s and acquitted. The case is technically considered to be open, but Scottsdale police do not have any suspects.

The Winfield Apartments in Scottsdale still exist, although they are now called “The Winfield Condominiums“. They were listed on Ebay in 2003, but the auction didn’t meet the seller’s reserve price.

John Carpenter died in 1998 from unspecified illness.

Crane had three children with his first wife, Anne, whom he divorced in 1970: Robert David, Deborah Ann, and Karen Leslie. Anne later remarried.

Robert David Crane has done some acting, and is writing a book about his father’s case.. He oversaw production of the movie “Autofocus“, starring Greg Kinnear, about Crane’s life and death. Robert had a cameo appearance. The slant of the film drove a wedge between himself and his step brother Scotty. Robert is still living.

Crane’s daughter Karen Crane works as a special effects makeup artist in California. You can listen to a fascinating interview with Karen on TV Confidential.

Crane’s second wife, SIgrid Valdis, left Los Angeles after Crane’s murder with their son Robert Scott (“Scotty”) and daughter Ana for Seattle. In 2004, she moved back to California and had Bob’s remains moved to Westwood. She died in 2007 and is interred with Crane. They were never legally divorced.

Crane’s second son, Scotty Crane is an actor, radio personality, and record producer living in California. Scotty started a family dust-up when he posted some of Crane’s amateur porns on a pay-per-view websitem which he has since taken down. He is married to stylist Michelle Ahern. They have one child.


The Hogan’s Heroes box set

The Murder of Bob Crane: Who Killed the Star of Hogan’s Heroes?

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