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Bob Crane was the star of the TV sitcom Hogan's Heroes in the 1960s, a role that won him two Emmy nominations.
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Actor. Born Robert Crane, on July 13, 1928, in the rural blue-collar town of Waterbury, Connecticut. Robert and his older brother were raised by their parents, Alfred and Rosemary Crane, in the upscale town of Stamford, Connecticut.
As a young boy, Crane developed an ear for music and an affinity for playing the drums. During World War II, he formed his own jazz band, performing at local dances to raise money for war bonds. In his late teens, he adopted a more classical sound, briefly enjoying a place in the Connecticut Symphony Orchestra.
After his high school graduation, Crane set his sights on a career as a radio disc jockey. He landed his first position at WLEA in Hornell, New York, where he earned a weekly salary of $35. Around the same time, he married his childhood sweetheart Anne Terzian. Shortly after their nuptials, Anne became pregnant, influencing Crane to seek work closer to Stamford. Opportunities arose in the towns of Bristol (at WBIS) then Bridgeport (at WICC), where he developed his trademark off-the-wall routines. Eventually his morning show on WICC gained a loyal following. When an opening in Los Angeles presented itself, CBS suggested Crane for the job.
Crane accepted the offer (which was accompanied by a five-figure salary) and moved his family to California. Listeners quickly took to Crane's brash and irreverent style. His morning show met with instant success, earning him the title "King of the LA Airwaves."
In 1960, at age 32, Crane began taking acting lessons and appearing in plays. He used the popularity of his radio show to entice the Hollywood press and influential producers to come watch his performances. Crane's first few projects earned admirable reviews. Small parts in television followed, including The Twilight Zone and General Electric Theater.
Among his notable radio guests was The Dick Van Dyke Show producer Carl Reiner. Crane made an appearance on the popular series, which led to an offer to appear on The Donna Reed Show. After an impressive performance, Crane was offered a permanent part as the Stone's neighbor Dr. Dave Kelsey. He spent two seasons on the show until he was unceremoniously fired in 1965.
Crane's termination was a blessing in disguise, as it afforded him the opportunity to audition for a new CBS program called Hogan's Heroes (1965). Crane won the lead role as the easygoing and wisecracking Colonel Robert Hogan. Eventually, his demanding television schedule forced him to relinquish his 16-year radio career. The comedy, which was set in a World War II POW camp, premiered in September 1965, and met with instantaneous success.
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