Based on the more serious Billy Wilder film Stalag 17, Hogans Heroes featured the goings on at a prisoner-of-war camp run by the inept Colonel "no one ever escapes from Stalag 13" Klink (Werner Klemperer) and his overweight, chocolate loving Sgt Hans "I know nothing" Schultz (John Banner). But in reality it was the prisoners, led by the dashing Colonel Robert Hogan (Bob Crane), who really ran things here, ably supported by French chef Louis LeBeau (Robert Clary, who had actually been imprisoned by the German's as a child), Sgt Carter (Larry Hovis), Corporal Andrew Klinchoe (Ivan Dixon), and Cockney inmate Corporal Peter Newkirk (Richard Dawson, who went on to host the popular US game show Family Feud), Hogan used the camp as a base for resistance activities that included passing on intelligence information, the printing of counterfeit money and helping others to escape.
The series actually courted a lot of criticism for it's flippant portrayal of the war from people who had been forced to fight between 1939 and 1945-for them 20 years passage of time wasn't long enough to begin to treat such a serious matter with such disregard and frivolity, and making the German's the butt of the joke by having them appear as buffoons trivialized the evil of the Nazis and the war. However, like the British sitcom 'Allo, 'Allo many years later, which was set in occupied France, the audience made the series a huge hit. Hogan's Heroes ran for six years until 1971 but made front-page news again in 1978, when its leading actor was found beaten to death in his Arizona home.
Published on December 21st, 2018. Written by Laurence Marcus for Television Heaven.