Hogan's Heroes is a American television situation comedy that ran for 168 episodes from September 17, 1965, to July 4, 1971, on the CBS network. Starring Bob Crane as Colonel Robert E. Hogan, the show was set in a German prisoner of war (POW) camp during the Second World War. The program featured Werner Klemperer as the commandant of the camp, Colonel Klink, and John Banner as the portly inept sergeant-of-the-guard, Schultz, as well as a crew of Allied prisoners who assisted Hogan in running a Resistance group from the camp.
Hogan's Heroes was produced by Bing Crosby Productions.
The setting was a fictional version of Stalag
13, a POW camp for captured airmen located near the town of Hammelburg
and run by the Luftwaffe
. It bore no resemblance to its real-life counterparts, Oflag XIII-B
and Stalag XIII-C
The show's premise was that the POWs were actually active war participants, using the camp as a base of operations for Allied espionage and sabotage against the Nazis. The prisoners could leave and return almost at will via a secret network of tunnels and had radio contact with Allied command. They were unwittingly aided by the incompetence of the camp commandant, Colonel Klink, and the sergeant-of-the-guard, Sergeant Schultz. Hogan would routinely manipulate the incompetent Klink and get Schultz to look the other way while his men conducted secret operations. Klink and Schultz were in constant terror of being transferred to the Russian Front, and Hogan took pains to keep the hapless German duo firmly in place. Klink had a perfect record of no escapes while he commanded the POW camp. Hogan actually assisted in maintaining this record, and made sure any prisoners who needed to be spirited away had been transferred to someone else's authority before their escape was enacted.
Colonel Robert E. Hogan
American Army Air Forces Colonel Robert E. Hogan
), senior ranking POW officer, is the leader of the group. He was from Bridgeport
, and born in Cleveland
. He was shot down while on a raid on Hamburg
in an operation masterminded by Colonel Biedenbender, who was promoted to general for this achievement. In contrast to Colonel Klink, he graduated third in his military class. The character was named by series creator Bernard Fein after his friend, the American soap opera and character actor Robert J. Hogan, who appeared in two episodes of Hogan's Heroes
Sgts. Kinchloe and Baker
American Staff Sergeant James (aka Ivan) "Kinch" Kinchloe
) is primarily responsible for radio
, and other forms of electronic communications. A talented mimic, Kinchloe easily imitates German officers speaking over the radio or telephone. When Hogan needed a strictly audio impression of Adolf Hitler, the men generally agreed that Kinchloe was the better choice for the job over Sergeant Carter. Kinch was from Detroit. In one episode he mentions that before the war he was a Golden Gloves boxing champion.
Following Dixon's departure from the show, the producers replaced his character with American Sergeant Baker (Kenneth Washington). The tasks assigned to Sergeant Baker are identical to those of Staff Sergeant Kinchloe. The details of Kinch's departure were never explained on the show.
As Kinchloe and Baker were African-American, their ability to participate in undercover activities outside of the camp was limited. In one operation, Kinchloe played the role of a doorman at a nightclub in Paris in order to get close to the owner.
Sergeant First Class Carter
American Sergeant First Class Andrew J. Carter
[Lieutenant in the pilot episode] (Larry Hovis
) is in charge of ordnance and bomb
-making. He also shows talent in chemistry
and can produce formulas as needed. Carter is often called on to impersonate German officers and, most convincingly, Adolf Hitler
. While bright and enthusiastic at his specialties, Carter often shows a lack of common sense otherwise. He formerly worked at a drug store in Muncie, Indiana
; in one episode, he bragged that he had won a snowman-building contest in Bullfrog, North Dakota
. His awards include the Silver Star
, Bronze Star
, Purple Heart
, Commendation Medal
and Good Conduct Medal
. Carter is a Native American; his Sioux name is Little Deer Who Goes Swift And Sure Through Forest
French Army Corporal Louis LeBeau
) is a chef
. LeBeau is also a master of covert operations
, and has taken the precaution of befriending the camp's guard dogs
. As a result, he is able to enter their compound through a secret entrance under a doghouse without the dogs raising the alarm. In many episodes, LeBeau bribes Schultz with food, especially LeBeau's apple strudel
. LeBeau is also a skilled tailor, often called upon to make or alter uniforms and other diguises.
Royal Air Force Corporal Peter Newkirk
(British actor Richard Dawson
) is the group's conman
, card shark
, lock picker and impersonator of German officers. He also is in charge of making uniforms and assisting in distracting the Germans to perform other sabotage. This series marked Dawson's American debut. Dawson auditioned for the role of Hogan, but was told he didn't sound American enough. Curiously, in the version translated for broadcast in Germany, Newkirk's pronounced British accent was replaced by a simulation of stuttering. Strangely, since Newkirk was in charge of making uniforms, his character's own RAF uniform was inaccurate. Wartime RAF/Commonwealth battledress
did not have lapels, and Newkirk's wedge cap
looks to be a USAF garrison cap with RAF buttons added.
Oberst (Colonel) Wilhelm Klink
) is an old-line Luftwaffe
officer of aristocratic (Junker
descent, and a social climber. Born in Leipzig, he received an appointment to a military academy and graduated 95th in his class. He has a pretentious coat of arms
with the letter "K" in his living quarters. A veteran aviator of the First World War
, Klink happily lives out the end of his military career in the relative comfort and safety of a prison camp commandant's billet. Klink is never mentioned as a member or devote of the Nazi Party; as an officer of the regular German military (not the SS nor Waffen-SS), Klink is prohibited from membership in any political party. He is portrayed as a bumbling, self-serving bureaucrat, rather than an evil person. His vanity makes him an easy target for Hogan's flattery.
In one episode, Klink is told by General Burkhalter that to climb higher socially, he would need to get married into an important family; Burkhalter then tells him that his widowed sister and niece would be arriving. Klink initially thinks the beautiful niece is the one to which Burkhalter is referring, but finds out that it is actually Burkhalter's sister, Frau Linkmeyer, who is looking to get married. Klink narrowly escapes with the help of Hogan. In a later episode, we find that the two other commandants under General Burkhalter also narrowly escaped marriage to the general's sister.
Colonel Kink received the Citation of Merit (Second Class) (fictitious) from General Stauffen. The General, who in the TV series, had visited Stalag-13 to get a briefcase from Hogan filled with explosives and a 30 minute timer, and whose purpose was to kill Adolf Hitler, all under the unsuspecting eyes of Klink. This is typical of the scenarios in which Hogan would entangle Colonel Klink, where Klink's ego is used against himself. A running gag in the series is that Klink - the straight man - gets doused in the face with water at three times for comedic effect. Klemperer's contract stipulated that Klink and the other German officers were never to be victorious in their efforts.
Oberfeldwebel (Master Sergeant) Hans Georg Schultz
, serial number 23781 (John Banner
) is Klink's bumbling, highly unmilitary 300 pound sergeant
of the guard. Schultz is a basically good-hearted man who, when confronted by evidence of the prisoners' covert activities, will simply look the other way, repeating "I hear nothing, I see nothing, I know nothing!" (or, more commonly as the series went on, simply "I see nothing, nothing!") in order to avoid being blamed for allowing things to have gotten as far as they already had. This eventually became a catch phrase
of the series.
Like Klink, he is a veteran of the First World War. In civilian life he is the owner of a highly-successful toy manufacturing company, The Schotzie Toy Company. With the onset of war, Schultz was involuntarily recalled to military duty and lost control of his toy factory as it was converted to military use. He has a wife and children whom he sees only on infrequent leave. LeBeau once refers to Schultz as a Social Democrat, a party which in reality was banned by the Nazis in 1933. Schultz carries a Krag-Jørgensen rifle which he never keeps loaded. He wears a fictitious version of the Iron Cross (4th Grade) which, in episode "The Rise and Fall of Sergeant Schultz", was awarded by General Kammler, a friend from World War I, who addresses Schultz by first name (Hans), and whom Schultz addresses as Lieutenant Kammler. In the second season episode "Killer Klink", Schultz is described by Klink as being "in his forties". In reality, Banner was in his late fifties.
Helga and Hilda
, 1965 to 1966) and Hilda
, 1966 to 1971) served as secretaries to Colonel Klink. Both were portrayed as having an ongoing romantic relationship with Colonel Hogan. Both also assisted Hogan and his men in various ways, including providing tidbits of information or access to papers or equipment.
Sigrid Valdis and Bob Crane were married in 1970.
- General der Infanterie Albert Burkhalter (Leon Askin) is Klink's superior officer who frequently tires of Klink's babbling and his incompetence, telling him to "shut up" and threatening to send him to the Russian Front. Burkhalter was mystified by Stalag 13's perfect record, as no prisoners ever escaped under Klink's watch, and this helped assuage his taking further actions against Klink. Burkhalter affected to live a Spartan existence like a good German officer, but in reality he loved the good life, even in war. He was scared to death of Mrs. Burkhalter, testifying to this several times during the series and after Hogan managed to get a few photos of the general with very attractive women. As the series progressed, he suspected Hogan's greater role at Stalag 13; however, in the end, Burkhalter, like the others, came to depend upon Hogan to get them out of trouble with the High Command when one scheme or the other ran off the tracks.
- Major Wolfgang Hochstetter (Howard Caine) of the Gestapo. Hochstetter is an ardent Nazi who never understands why Hogan is often allowed to barge into Klink's office at will. Hochstetter frequently demands of Klink "Who is this man?" or "What is this man doing here?!" with increasing stridency. Klink is justifiably afraid of him, but Burkhalter is not easily intimidated. In "War Takes a Holiday," Hogan tricks Hochstetter into lending his car to several underground leaders (presented by Hogan as potential captains of industry), who use it to escape just as Hochstetter's superiors arrive. Howard Caine played several other German officers in the show before becoming Major Hochstetter. Throughout the series, the rank insignia on Hochstetter's collar is that of a Standartenführer which translates to Oberst (Colonel) in the Wehrmacht.
- Colonel Rodney Crittendon (Bernard Fox), DSO, CBE, MC and Bar, DFC, AFC an RAF Group Captain. Crittendon is a British officer who crosses paths several times with Hogan and his crew. Crittendon believes that a POW's only focus should be escape and spying should be done by professional spies. In an early episode, Klink has him transferred from another camp because he is senior to Hogan, putting him in charge of the POWs. Crittendon was also known for developing and attempting to execute various forms of prison camp escapes that never worked, and for coming up with the secret "Crittendon Plan", which turned out to consist of planting geraniums along the sides of runways to cheer up returning British pilots. The rank "Colonel" is inaccurate since, although the pay grades are equivalent, a Group Captain is never addressed as "Colonel".
- Marya (Nita Talbot) is a spy who works occasionally with Hogan, but whom he doesn't entirely trust. She often appears as the trusted paramour of some high-ranking German official whom she has managed to beguile. Her schemes often come into conflict with Hogan's plans, but she nevertheless always proves faithful to the Allied cause. She is described as a "White Russian", but it is unclear whether this refers to her possible ethnicity as a Belorusian or her possible political allegiance as an anti-communist Russian. Her trademark line, said with an exaggerated Russian accent, is "Hogan, Da-link".
- Tiger (Arlene Martel), is a beautiful female French Underground contact, who has a running romance with Hogan.
- Captain Fritz Gruber (Dick Wilson) is Klink's deputy. He is in charge of the camp when Klink is not available or on vacation. In one episode he even became the "Kommandant". Burkhalter put him in charge of the camp instead of Klink. In the end, Klink gets his job back, because he can find the three escaped prisoners, which Gruber has lost and cannot find. (Of course, Col. Hogan lets them break out to save Klink's life and job, because Hogan needs Klink in his job as the "Kommandant" of Stalag 13.) After Klink gets the prisoners back into the camp, General Burkhalter sees that he had made a mistake and gives Klink his old job back, and Gruber remains deputy.
- Corporal Karl Langenscheidt (John Cedar), one of Klink's men. Langenscheidt often informs the distraught Colonel Klink when an important guest arrives, much to Klink's displeasure. Langenscheidt often arrives at the worst of times. In one episode Langenscheidt gets involved in one of Hogan's schemes to forge a priceless painting which General Burkhalter intends to give to Hermann Göring. Klink sends Schultz and Langenscheidt to keep Hogan from escaping while they are in Paris.
- Frau Gertrude Linkmeyer (Kathleen Freeman), is General Burkhalter's sister. She is usually in a one sided relationship with Klink (who is scared to death of her), but Hogan manages to split the two one way or another. A running gag in several episodes with her is that Klink can run away with her M.I.A. husband, Otto (one episode Hogan commented "You two can start a club"). She only appears in episodes with General Burkhalter.
- Maurice Dubay (Felice Orlandi), is a French Underground contact who appeared in several episodes.
episode, "The Informer", was produced in black-and-white
. As with many pilot episodes, there are several continuity errors with the series proper, such as Burkhalter being introduced as a colonel, instead of a general. But most continuity problems revolve around Larry Hovis's character of Carter. In the pilot, he was credited as a guest star and is shown as a lieutenant, rather than a sergeant. "Lt. Carter" had recently escaped from another camp and at the end of the episode, is en route to England.
Leonid Kinskey appeared in the pilot episode as Vladimir Minsk, a Soviet POW who specializes in tailoring. Kinskey ultimately turned down his contract, contending that the subject matter was being treated too lightly.
In the pilot, Klink's secretary is actually part of Hogan's team and had access to the tunnels. In the series, she is merely willing to look the other way in exchange for a kiss from Hogan or some other form of affectionate gesture. Eventually, during the series run, it is implied that she and Hogan have a running romance, especially when she hints at getting a diamond engagement ring in exchange for her help.
The theme music
for Hogan's Heroes was composed by Jerry Fielding
, the drums being played by Bob Crane
. The title of the theme music is "March" or "Hogan's Heroes March." There are lyrics
to the title music, but they are never sung in the show. The lyrics are as follows:
Heroes, heroes, husky men of war,
Sons of all the heroes, of the war before.
We're all heroes up to our ear o's,
You ask questions,
We make suggestions,
That's what we're heroes for.
All good heroes love a good, big fight,
Open up the bomb bays and brighten up the night.
We applaud the people who laud us,
You pull the roses,
We punch the noses,
That's what we're heroes for.
What's a hero do?
Well, we're not gonna tell ya
Cause we wish we knew.
That's why we heroes are so few.
We've got a slogan,
From Colonel Hogan,
And Colonel Hogan's a hero too.
Never flinch, boys, never be afraid,
Heroes are not born, boys, heroes are made.
Ask not why, boys, never say die, boys,
Answer the call, remember we'll all be heroes forever more.
The exact chronology of the series was never established, but references are made in certain episodes.
- The pilot gives the year as 1942.
- In another episode, Hogan says to Klink, "But you know, sir, you can't believe all the rumors you hear around here. We even heard the Russians won at Stalingrad." The Battle of Stalingrad lasted from July 1942 to February 1943.
- One episode shows Hogan holding up a sign that reads, "Colonel Klink and his magic violin presents: "Great Escapes of 1943."
- One episode is set on the eve of D-Day, 6 June 1944.
- Another episode involves Hogan providing a German with an explosive intended to kill Hitler, referencing Claus von Stauffenberg's failed assasination plot of 20 July 1944.
- In one case, Hogan makes reference to a kamikaze, whose operations began in mid-to-late 1944.
- In the episode "Monkey Business", a sign outside the barracks reads December 13, 1944.
As with some other war-related series such as M*A*S*H, the program lasted longer than the actual events. While the series ran for six seasons, U.S.' direct involvement in the Second World War was less than four years (7 December 1941 - 2 September 1945).
Although the entire series appears to have taken place during the harsh German winters (with snow on the ground, frost on the windows, etc.) the shots also show deciduous trees with all of their foliage.
There are similarities between Hogan's Heroes and the 1953 feature film Stalag 17, a World War II prisoner of war film released by Paramount Pictures (which now owns the DVD rights to Hogan's Heroes). The producers of the film sued Bing Crosby productions for infringement; the suit was unsuccessful.
During the original run of the program, Hogan's Heroes
was three times nominated for the Emmy
for Best Comedy Series. The television academy's faith in the show seems to be generally, if unscientifically, confirmed by some modern viewers. As of 2008
, online participants overwhelmingly deemed it a show that "never jumped the shark
". Likewise, about 93% of respondents at tv.com
rated the show as "good" or better, as of 2008. As the results of an online polls, however, these conclusions may or may not be representative of the general public's views.
The modern television press has offered a mixed perspective on the show. In 2002, TV Guide named Hogan's Heroes the fifth worst TV show of all time. The Chicago Tribune gave their top 25 "worst shows ever" in 2007, however, and Hogan's Heroes didn't make that list. It is unclear how either publication arrived at their findings.
Comedian Tony Figueroa has offered a possible explanation for the disparate views of the program by modern audiences. He believes that some viewers look badly upon the show because they think it trivializes the atrocities of war or because they have fundamentally misapprehended the setting of the show.
Some of the actors, including Werner Klemperer (Klink), John Banner (Schultz), Robert Clary (LeBeau), and Leon Askin (Burkhalter), were Jews
who had fled the Nazis during World War II. Clary says in the recorded commentary on the DVD version of episode "Art for Hogan's Sake" that he spent three years in a concentration camp
, that his parents and other family members were killed there, and that he has an identity tattoo from the camp on his arm. Likewise John Banner was in a (pre-war) concentration camp
and his family was exterminated during the war. Leon Askin was also in a pre-war French internment camp
and his parents were killed at Treblinka
. Howard Caine
(Hochstetter) was also Jewish (his birth name was Cohen), and Jewish actors Harold Gould
and Harold J. Stone
played German generals.
As a teenager, Werner Klemperer (Klink) (son of the great conductor Otto Klemperer
) fled Hitler's Germany with his family in 1933. During the show's production, he insisted that Hogan always win over his Nazi captors. He defended his playing a Nazi by claiming, "I am an actor. If I can play Richard III, I can play a Nazi." Banner attempted to sum up the paradox of his role by saying, "Who can play Nazis better than us Jews?" Ironically, although Klemperer, Banner, and Askin play typecast World War II German types, all had actually served in the US Armed Forces during World War II—Banner and Askin in the US Army Air Corps and Klemperer in a US Army Entertainment Unit.
The show was not broadcast in Germany over German TV until 1992. The original dubbed version was titled Stacheldraht und Fersengeld
(Barbed Wire and Turning Tail); it was then re-dubbed and released in 1994 as Ein Käfig voller Helden
(A Cage of Heroes), which gained considerable popularity (the show was broadcast over US Armed Forces Network
in 1974 for about one week, but the German government strongly requested its removal, which was acted upon by the management of Armed Forces TV).
In the newer German version, the Germans speak in various different accents, which makes it funnier to a German audience than Standard German would. It amplifies the contrast between Klink (who portrays the Prussian stereotype but has a Saxony accent) and Schultz (who portrays the Urbayern Bavarian stereotype). Furthermore Klink's choice of vocabulary and memorable quotes add jokes which would not be present in a direct translation of the English language original. Another major change is that Newkirk, who speaks with a British accent in the original, is changed to an exaggerated stutterer in the German version. Apart from that there are numerous deviations from the original plot, introducing elements which were not present in the original. Amongst other things it introduces a new character, Kalinke, who is Klink's cleaning lady and permanent mistress. She is referred to, but never seen.
has released all six seasons of Hogan's Heroes
in Region 1
as full season sets. The series was previously released by Columbia House
as individual discs, each with five or six consecutive episodes.
In popular culture
magazine #108 (January 1967) parodied the show as "Hokum's Heroes". An additional one-page parody called "Hochman's Heroes" took the show's premise to the next level by setting it in Buchenwald
In the Batman episode "It's the Way You Play the Game," Colonel Klink appears in one of the show's trademark window cameos as Batman scales the side of a building.
Colonel Klink(voiced by Klemperer himself) appears on The Simpsons in the episode "The Last Temptation of Homer", as a guardian angel who shows Homer what his life would be like without Marge.
The Simpsons episode "Wild Barts Can't Be Broken" features a parody of the song "Kids" from the musical Bye Bye Birdie. One of the lines goes "Adults! You always strut around like you're Col Klink!/Adults! You walk around like your farts don't stink!"
Colonel Klink and Sergeant Schultz appear in the Robot Chicken episode "Metal Militia", voiced by Seth Green. In a segment that parodies this show, Hulk Hogan and other wrestlers were in the place of Colonel Robert E. Hogan and his inmates as they plan to make their escape at the time when Adolf Hitler pays a visit to Colonel Klink's Stalag 13 camp.
Recess aside from the opening theme that musically resembles Hogan's theme, the general set of the story lines are derivative of Hogan's Heroes. In one episode, when a retiree tells T. J. of his past in the war and a small flashback shows that the retiree's past clearly resembles Hogan's Heroes.
Philadelphia Eagles running back, Correll Buckhalter has be nicknamed "The General" by ESPNs Chris Berman after the General Burkhalter character. Berman will usually say his name followed by something like "Klink! You are an idiot!"
The Family Guy episode Emission Impossible sees character Cleveland Brown muttering Schultz's famous "I SEE NOTHING, NOTHING!" as he sees Stewie exit the body of a robot built to resemble Peter.
In 1965, Fleer
produced a 66 trading card
set for the series.
Between 1966 and 1969, Dell Comics produced 9 issues based on the series, all with photo covers.
In 1968, Robert Clary, Richard Dawson, Ivan Dixon, and Larry Hovis cut an LP record, Hogan's Heroes Sing the Best of World War II, which included lyrics for the theme song. The record did not sell well and as a result is today considered a collector's item.
In 1968 MPC (Model Products by Craft Master, Model Products Corp.) released a model jeep in 1/25th scale with spurious markings labeled as "Hogan's Heroes World War II Jeep". In 2003 another model (possibly the same mold, but with slightly different -- though still spurious -- decals) was released by AMT/ERTL.