Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Carol Ford Talks with WLEA (Hornell, NY) about Bob Crane

Last night, I was interviewed about Bob Crane by Mr. Kevin Doran, owner of WLEA 1480 Radio in Hornell, New York. WLEA is significant because this is the radio station where Bob landed his first job in broadcasting, from March 1950 to December 1950. The interview lasted a little more than 20 minutes, and while it had been recorded yesterday afternoon around 4:30, it aired over WLEA this morning to listeners. Mr. Doran was lovely to speak with, and I enjoyed the interview immensely. I am also truly grateful to him, WLEA, and the Hornell community for not only their support, but for caring about Bob Crane as much as they do.

I'll confess, a part of me was nervous during the interview - somewhat because I was giddy with excitement and also because I suffer a bit from stage fright! I am a writer and an editor. I write a piece, edit it, check it and double check it and triple check it, and then release it. Doing an interview for broadcast - whether live or recorded - is a whole different thing. How did I sound? Was it ok? I am a perfectionist. I want it to be perfect.

Those who listened to it have told me I sounded great. There is no question I know my subject extraordinarily well. But no matter how many times people tell me how good it sounds, I will always be my toughest critic. Was the interview good enough? Perhaps. But personally, I don't think anything can ever quite be good enough when it comes to Bob Crane. He was the victim of a heinous crime, and his memory has been ridiculed ever since. That is why I strive for perfection when writing or talking about Bob Crane. I want desperately to help restore his good name, to help tell his true story, to help people understand him better, to make them realize that what has already been done has not been accurate, to be kind and respectful to all involved. 

But nobody is perfect. There will always be things I would have wanted to say a bit differently. And I will never, ever be able to say it as well as Bob himself would.

I have not listened to the interview, nor will I. And that will probably remain true no matter how many times I am interviewed over the course of time about Bob Crane, the National Radio Hall of Fame efforts, and his biography. It is interesting that I just today read an article quoting Pierce Brosnan's opinion of himself in the James Bond movies in which he starred (Golden Eye, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough, and Die Another Day). He refuses to watch the films because he does not believe he did the Bond franchise justice. I couldn't disagree more, but I can certainly relate to how he feels.

Every word I put forth about Bob Crane, whether on paper or over the air or on screen is measured for perfection. And every word I will ever say about Bob will always be from the heart, with complete honesty and only the best of intentions. That is how I hope you will take everything I say and write about Bob Crane, all the while knowing that I will always wish it could be just a little bit better.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Bob Crane Interviews Mary Tyler Moore over KMPC (c. 1972)

In this charming clip, Mary Tyler Moore explains to Bob Crane about the origins of her full name, how she got started in acting, and her work on The Richard Diamond Show. Does it get any better than this?

The Bob Crane Show / Interview with Mary Tyler Moore
Thanksgiving Day (Year Unknown, circa 1972)
Broadcast over KMPC Radio / Hollywood, California
Clip courtesy of Scott Crane.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The 'Hogan's Heroes' Finale ~ As I Envisioned It

On April 4, I posted the photos below from the Hogan's Heroes episode "Rockets or Romance" on the Vote For Bob Crane Facebook page. The date and episode are significant because on April 4, 1971, "Rockets or Romance" originally aired. It was the final episode of Hogan's Heroes.

Hogan's Heroes never had a proper ending. Cast and crew were officially notified over the summer of 1971 that the series was cancelled. The writers had exhausted just about every plot that could possibly have been done, and the ratings were not as strong as they had been in earlier years, having moved to Sunday night. In 1971, shows did not have a big finale as they do today after a long, successful run. They just simply ended, and we are left to wonder about the fate of our favorite characters.

In the Facebook post, I asked fans to comment and explain how they thought the series should have ended. There were some terrific responses, everything from Hogan's nephew rolling up in a Sherman tank and liberating Stalag 13 to all of the prisoners escaping, leaving nothing behind but a card for Klink and Schultz that read, "Thanks for the memories."

Many years ago, I took it upon myself to write an ending to the sitcom I loved so much. (I seem to have a habit of doing that. I have also written a teleplay "sequel" to resolve the short-lived Dracula: The Series; but that is another story and another project with another website!)

But back to Hogan.

I tried to obtain permission from the copyright holders to publish this work to be sold through mass market distribution. I received an uninterested "no." The truth is, I am not the first, the only, or the last person to create such a work. Many authors have written endings to Hogan's Heroes. Each author believes his or her ending is the perfect ending, and in some ways, each is the perfect ending because we all have our own ideal version of how it all ended.

I wrote Hogan's Heroes: There But For the Grace of God in just over one year's time between 2005 and 2006. I confess, I had a blast writing it, and I hate that very few have ever been allowed to read it. So after some consideration, I have decided to make it available here as a downloadable PDF file. So read, share, and hopefully, enjoy! This is my version the Hogan's Heroes finale. And yes, there is more. I'm about half way through writing the sequel. But that's on the back burner because of a certain biography I'm currently writing!

(Click to Read or Download)

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Restitution: Telling the Truth about Bob Crane

Taking a few minutes to update you on the status of Bob Crane's new, serious biography, Flipside: The True Story of Bob Crane. The first half of the book is written, and chapters are currently being formatting. Everything is moving along, and I'm hoping we can publish by the end of 2014. However, that being said, I also won't rush to publication. It will be perfect, or as close to perfect as humanly possible, before we go to press. Too much misinformation has already been released about Bob Crane to publish this book without ensuring every piece of information is accurate and verified.

As I have been on this journey, I have heard many words of thanks along the way. Linda Groundwater, Dee Young, and I have had people who knew Bob and who love him tell us "thank you for doing this" so many times, we have lost count. Last night, I heard those words again, this time from Bob's cousin, who told me, "Your wonderful writings will be a restitution. I pray for your publication."

Words such as this cannot be taken lightly. They reiterate the enormous responsibility that rests in my hands and in the hands of my research partners and collaborators ~ to finally, after all these years, tell the world who Bob Crane was, and just as importantly, who he was not.

Restitution. And so long overdue. But not much longer now.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Bob Crane Show / Interview with Jerry Lewis (c. 1965)

Bob Crane held many comedians in high regard, including Jerry Lewis. This clip was originally aired over KNX-CBS Radio in early 1965. Later, in January 1976, Bob guest hosted at KAYO Radio in Seattle, Washington. During his show over KAYO, this clip was rebroadcast. Enjoy!

The Bob Crane Show / Interview with Jerry Lewis
KNX-CBS Radio/Los Angeles, CA
Original Air Date ~ Circa 1965
Rebroadcast over KAYO Radio , Seattle, WA ~ January 1976
Aircheck courtesy of Scott Crane.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Hiking Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook ~ The Backdrop to 'Hogan's Heroes'

Many have asked me, "Whatever became of the set of Hogan's Heroes?" Or "Where was Hogan's Heroes filmed?" Hogan's Heroes was filmed in two locations. Indoor sets were housed at Desilu Studios, while outdoor scenes were shot in Culver City, California, on what was known as "40 Acres Backlot."

While in Los Angeles in March 2012, I hiked the Baldwin Hills mountain up to the Scenic Overlook. What is important about this mountain range nestled next to Culver City is its proximity to 40 Acres Backlot, where so many film and television productions, including Gone With the Wind, The Andy Griffith Show, Star Trek, Gomer Pyle, and of course, Hogan's Heroes, were filmed, and where Bob Crane worked for six years during the sit-com's production (1965-1971).

View from the top of the Baldwin Hills mountain.
Below are photos from my trek up and down the Baldwin Hills mountain on a gorgeous sunny day ~ a day so clear you could see directly across all of Los Angeles to the Hollywood Sign. I'm also sharing maps of the area from 1965 (with sets clearly labeled and for which I take no ownership or credit!) and from Google Maps, which I did label, to give you an idea of where, approximately, Stalag 13 was situated.

Today, what had been 40 Acres Backlot is now composed of storage units, offices, and housing developments. But if you are in Culver City, take the morning or afternoon and hike Baldwin Hills. When you reach the top, look out over Culver City. The land below is steeped in Hollywood history, and you can almost hear the sounds of those iconic films and television shows rustling in the wind. I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

Double click the image above for easier viewing.

Double click the image above for easier viewing.
Double click the image above for easier viewing.

Looking out over the approximate location of Stalag 13.
Looking out over the approximate location of Stalag 13.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Bob Crane Talks with Reporter Stan Freberg about 'Hogan's Heroes' ~ September 1965

Fans of Hogan's Heroes may know the tagline, "If you liked World War II, you'll love Hogan's Heroes." The line, used quite frequently during the show's initial run, would occasionally resurface after the series ended and ran in syndication, continually marring the show with the assumption that war is not only hell, but it can actually be fun.

There are no two ways around it; you can love and appreciate Hogan's Heroes all you want, but that tagline is offensive. Despite its great success and large fan base, Hogan's Heroes still receives quite a bit of flack from from those who do not understand the satire or premise of the show, perhaps in part due to the crude overtone of this simple yet harsh tagline. 

Bob Crane had never been a fan of this particular tagline, having been a terrific supporter of veterans and recognizing their service in the United States Armed Forces, especially during war time (his older brother served in the United States Navy during World War II, and was severely injured and nearly killed in battle). Bob spent a lot of time explaining and defending Hogan's Heroes openly to the public on behalf of the network and the show's producers. He also made regular appearances to veterans' groups.

His message each time was clear and simple: No, we cannot and should not make fun of World War II or any war. The show is a satire, set in a POW camp, not a concentration camp. It mocks authority and the power some individuals have achieved, even though it is blatantly obvious they do not deserve to be in positions of power in the first place. It roots for the underdog, who struggles against tyranny in the attempt to overcome the trials set before him despite the odds.

Many veterans enjoyed Hogan's Heroes, supporting Bob's stand on how humor and one's wits can be used to fight back, saying the use of humor helped them to overcome the horrors of war. And for many, Hogan's Heroes still resonates to this day, most recently with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's "Bridgegate" scandal, where Internet memes are cropping up featuring Sgt. Schultz and his famous line, "I know nothing!"

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is being compared
to Sgt. Schultz in Hogan's Heroes in light of
the "Bridgegate" scandal, which broke this week.

The following interview between Bob Crane and reporter Stan Freberg was published in September 1965. While the interview is light, and the dangers of war bounce between the two men in jest, it is also clear that Bob did not embrace the tagline, his tone changing at the mention of it. Unfortunately, despite his best efforts, the tagline stuck, and it still resurfaces to this day, continuing the misrepresentation of the true intentions of the series.

From The Sunday Times, September 19, 1965, by Stan Freberg
"My favorite is a spot to promote Hogan's Heroes, an unlikely comedy series in which a band of Air Force officers are held captive by the Germans and try to escape each week, to some pretty funny results. The star, former KNX personality Bob Crane, informed me that the show 'is all about World War II.' There is a pregnant pause."

FREBERG: Well, that sounds pretty amusing so far; where does the show take place?

CRANE: In a prisoner of war camp in Germany.

FREBERG: Always a good situation comedy locale. What's the plot?

CRANE: Well, we have an escape tunnel dug under the barracks...We have our own tailor making civilian clothes, we're equipped to make counterfeit German passports...

FREBERG: All right under the noses of the German guards?

CRANE: Right. And each week we nearly get caught smuggling the men out. (He chuckles.)

FREBERG: What are some of the other amusing ingredients?

CRANE: Oh...German police dogs...machine guns...the Gestapo.

FREBERG: Just a few of the laugh-provoking elements to be seen this fall on Hogan's Heroes each Friday night on CBS. Shall we say, "If you liked World War'll love Hogan's Heroes?"

CRANE: No, let's not say that. No.