On June 29, 1978, the body of Hogan’s Heroes star Bob Crane was discovered bloody and battered in his Scottsdale, AZ, apartment. While Crane was one of the most prominent television stars of the 1960s, he fell on hard times once the hit show ended, eventually performing in regional dinner theaters in order to pay the bills. His murder exposed his intensely sexual private life, which involved sleeping with hundreds of women and filming his exploits.
Crane wasn’t alone in his video fetish. After the actor met electronics guru John Henry Carpenter on the set of Hogan’s Heroes, the two formed a fast bond over their affinity for promiscuous lovemaking and state-of-the-art video technology. Following Crane’s untimely demise, the police focused heavily on Carpenter, who denied any involvement. Authorities were unable to officially solve the case before Carpenter passed in 1998.
Bob Crane Was One Of TV's Most Charismatic Actors
He may not be a household name anymore, but in the late '60s, Bob Crane was the charming and handsome star of Hogan's Heroes, a sitcom about life in a WWII POW camp. Before starring in the throwback series, Crane was intent on making it as a big-band drummer; however, when crooners like Frank Sinatra came onto the scene, he switched gears and landed a gig hosting a CBS radio show.
Following the success of his radio show, Crane guest-hosted The Tonight Show before spending six seasons as Colonel Hogan, the leader of a rag-tag American crew in German custody. After his death, Crane's co-stars opened up about what a great person and friend he was. Robert Clary, who played French POW Louis LeBeau on the show, told ABC, "Bob was a very charming man. He was easy to get along with - he never acted like, 'I'm making much more money than you do, and you better listen to what I'm saying.' That was wonderful."
Crane Never Attained The Same Level Of Success After 'Hogan's Heroes' Ended
Following the end of Hogan's Heroes, Crane's life slowly began to spiral out of control. He was never able to match the success of his first hit. Although he appeared in the 1973 Disney film Superdad, the movie flopped, and the actor was forced to star in touring dinner theater productions to stay afloat.
While doing the dinner theater circuit, Crane filmed personal X-rated movies with various women, enlisting the help of his friend, John Carpenter, whom he met on the set of Hogan's Heroes. Crane's dinner theater schedule ultimately led him to Scottsdale, AZ, in 1978. Carpenter followed Crane to Arizona, but whether or not the two were meeting up to film - or if Carpenter's appearance was a surprise - remains unclear.
Crane Liked To Film His Sexual EncountersPhoto: Auto Focus/Sony Pictures
While Bob Crane claimed to be a "one-woman man," he had a constant stable of women at his disposal. A fan of photography, Crane shot and developed photos of his partners. When Carpenter introduced him to portable video cameras and VCRs, the former Hogan's Heroes star began recording as many of his sexual encounters as possible.
Because of his job with Sony, Carpenter was able to bring Crane the most up-to-date recording hardware. According to the New Phoenix Times, the two men filmed themselves in a menage a trois with a woman in Dallas, TX, just months prior to Crane's death. Crane kept all of these recordings in his personal video library.
Crane's Wife Accepted His Double Life
Crane's second wife, Patricia Annette Olson, was well aware of her husband's proclivity for filming himself with various women. She told ABC she knew about his photos from early on in their relationship and wasn't bothered by his private life:
From almost the first day on the set, he told me his hobby was photography - I didn't figure it was landscape! He brought over a double-thick briefcase, and it was filled with like four rows of slides in a box about that big. So there were thousands of slides in there... of all the women in his life.
Olson claims Crane was very open about his sexual encounters with strangers, and she understood her husband's sex addiction:
I know it sounds crazy. Maybe people listening to me will think I am crazy! Bob used these women. He said, "I wish when I finished with them I could just push a button and they'd fall through the floor and disappear." Now, how could I be jealous of something like that? He treated women like the rest of the world treats toilet paper. Who's going to be jealous of toilet paper?