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Sync thoughts and "Hogan's Heroes"
Hogan's Heroes actors (from left) Robert Clary, Bob Crane adn Werner Klemperer.
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Hearing Spirit's 1968 hit "I Got a Line On You" during a party scene in the semi-biopic on actor Bob Crane, Auto Focus, from 2002, I started researching the 1960's and 70's rock band (who missed a golden opportunity to appear at Woodstock - before Jimi Hendrix!) and really thinking about what a good song choice that was at point in the film.

And for me, a fan of Hogan's Heroes (1965-1971), it was interesting to learn more about Crane and his descent into sex addiction and mediocrity after Hogan's Heroes was cancelled.

Auto Focus has some interesting moments and Greg Kinnear's performance as Crane strikes me as pretty spot on, but the film has some flaws. But this isn't a review of Auto Focus.

Synchronistically speaking, I got into my car yesterday morning - September 17th - and said to myself: "I sure hope they play 'I Got a Line On You.' I suddenly love that song."

Well, the first music I hear on SiriusXM's "60's on 6" channel is the theme music to Hogan's Heroes. What?!?! Why would they be playing that? The deejay then explains today - September 17th - is the 48th anniversary of the premiere of Hogan's Heroes, way back in 1965. He talks a little about Bob Crane and incorporates an odd trivia question involving the late comedian Red Skelton.

Still, thinking of wanting to hear a song featured on a film about Hogan's Heroes star Bob Crane and then actually hearing a song where Crane (an accomplished drummer) actually plays on is incredibly weird, at least to me.

But ever since sync re-entered my life in recent months, syncs are literally everywhere.

In fact, just talking to a colleague this morning about method acting and really getting into a role led to me talking about the fact that a number of Jewish actors on Hogan's Heroes (which of course takes place in a Nazi-run, World War II-era POW camp) play the German Nazi captors of the American and allied servicemen.

Among them were Col. Klink, played by accomplished character actor Werner Klemperer and Sgt. Schultz, played by John Banner, best known for his iconic catchphrase "I know nothing!"

Think of Robert Clary, who played Stalag 13's resident gourmet, French Army Cpl. Louis LeBeau, also happened to be Jewish in real life. He and his family, back in 1942, would find themselves in the Buchenwald concentration camp. Clary, now in his 90's, has the number A-5714 tattooed on his arm.

So, playing a character in such a military-themed situation comedy must have really hit home for Clary.

But he was later quoted as saying, "Every week we made fools of our captors … as an actor, you have to be able to put yourself in a role. And we were not dealing with concentration camp situations in this show."

Clary added that the POW camp conditions portrayed in Hogan's Heroes was "like night and day" compared to the concentration camp conditions he personally experienced.

Yet these talented actors took on these roles, damn the criticism. Hogan's Heroes would go on to be incredibly successful during its initial run and would attract many, many more fans in subsequent years in syndication. In fact, tonight's rerun on Me TV, which airs 8 p.m. CST, is described thusly: "Hogan's plot to destroy an ammunition train is foiled by Burkhalter's brother-in-law."

As Mel Brooks once said: "Every human being has hundreds of separate people living under his skin. The talent of a writer is his ability to give them their separate names, identities, personalities and have them relate to other characters living with him."

And Brooks knows the power of humor and how it can be stronger than the sword. Making tyrants and murderous dictators look foolish and moronic can have a powerful effect. Laughter is potent.

Bob Crane was a tragic figure. He was never able to match his earlier success playing Hogan. He suddenly couldn't see past his overwhelming personal shortcomings and a lack of good acting roles in an entertainment world that was rapidly changing in the 1970's.

And yet while many years have passed since Crane's death, his talents and those of his co-actors on Hogan's Heroes won't be forgotten.

Copyright 2013 Red Dirt Report

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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