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?