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Bob Crane The Definitive Biography

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Author Note: All author profits from the sales of Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography will be donated to various charities in Bob Crane's memory. Since his untimely death on June 29, 1978, Bob Crane's unofficial biography has become akin to a broken record. Like a skip in the acetate, his murder and the scandal that grew from it have been the repeated focus of attention, to Author Note: All author profits from the sales of Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography will be donated to various charities in Bob Crane's memory. Since his untimely death on June 29, 1978, Bob Crane's unofficial biography has become akin to a broken record. Like a skip in the acetate, his murder and the scandal that grew from it have been the repeated focus of attention, to the exclusion of nearly everything else. Over time, the line between fact and fiction blurred, and his life story became distorted. All perspective on Bob Crane as a human being was lost, and he became nothing more than a two-dimensional cartoon character without depth, understanding, or definition. Now, nearly two hundred people who knew the Hogan's Heroes star personally and better than most—family; friends as far back as elementary school; colleagues in radio, television, theatre, and film—have spoken out on Bob Crane's behalf, and in many instances, for the first time. Within the pages of this book, they share their memories and thoughts about a man whom they knew as an exceptional and talented musician, a genius in radio, a sharp-witted comedian, a gifted actor and director, a man driven to success, a doting and loving father, a loyal friend, and a kind and gentle spirit with a sunny personality—a man who, while not perfect, was vastly different from how he has been presented over the decades. Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography balances the scales and sets the record straight, providing a full and complete history of Bob Crane, clarifying who he really was—and just as importantly, who he was not.


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Author Note: All author profits from the sales of Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography will be donated to various charities in Bob Crane's memory. Since his untimely death on June 29, 1978, Bob Crane's unofficial biography has become akin to a broken record. Like a skip in the acetate, his murder and the scandal that grew from it have been the repeated focus of attention, to Author Note: All author profits from the sales of Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography will be donated to various charities in Bob Crane's memory. Since his untimely death on June 29, 1978, Bob Crane's unofficial biography has become akin to a broken record. Like a skip in the acetate, his murder and the scandal that grew from it have been the repeated focus of attention, to the exclusion of nearly everything else. Over time, the line between fact and fiction blurred, and his life story became distorted. All perspective on Bob Crane as a human being was lost, and he became nothing more than a two-dimensional cartoon character without depth, understanding, or definition. Now, nearly two hundred people who knew the Hogan's Heroes star personally and better than most—family; friends as far back as elementary school; colleagues in radio, television, theatre, and film—have spoken out on Bob Crane's behalf, and in many instances, for the first time. Within the pages of this book, they share their memories and thoughts about a man whom they knew as an exceptional and talented musician, a genius in radio, a sharp-witted comedian, a gifted actor and director, a man driven to success, a doting and loving father, a loyal friend, and a kind and gentle spirit with a sunny personality—a man who, while not perfect, was vastly different from how he has been presented over the decades. Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography balances the scales and sets the record straight, providing a full and complete history of Bob Crane, clarifying who he really was—and just as importantly, who he was not.

30 review for Bob Crane The Definitive Biography

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sue Rovens

    I just finished the book today. I don't know if I have the proper words to say how I feel and what I think about it all. I can say this: The book itself is amazing and the insights explored and discussed really moved me. I am so grateful that the three of you took the time and effort to research the TRUTH and examine all the aspects of his life. How can any one human being be completely understood? I don't think it's possible - there are so many nuances to each of us - day in and day out. Thank y I just finished the book today. I don't know if I have the proper words to say how I feel and what I think about it all. I can say this: The book itself is amazing and the insights explored and discussed really moved me. I am so grateful that the three of you took the time and effort to research the TRUTH and examine all the aspects of his life. How can any one human being be completely understood? I don't think it's possible - there are so many nuances to each of us - day in and day out. Thank you SO SO much for this gift of knowledge, understanding and perseverance. If anyone is hesitant about the length of this book, please consider that this basically represents a person's entire life. How many pages should encompass a life? Take the time. Get to know this man as more than JUST an actor and a stage presence. It's worth it.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Susan Rubinstein

    This is a very detailed (and long!) biography that examines all of Crane's life, from his childhood in Connecticut to his career after the show was canceled. I found the beginning of the book particularly illuminating. (the part before his breakout role on the Donna Reed show.) I did not realize how much of a radio pioneer he truly was, and the pages dealing with this time period were extremely educational. I will also tell you all that the first part of the book left me feeling quite sad as wel This is a very detailed (and long!) biography that examines all of Crane's life, from his childhood in Connecticut to his career after the show was canceled. I found the beginning of the book particularly illuminating. (the part before his breakout role on the Donna Reed show.) I did not realize how much of a radio pioneer he truly was, and the pages dealing with this time period were extremely educational. I will also tell you all that the first part of the book left me feeling quite sad as well. From reading about his childhood, and his work ethic, it seemed to be almost inevitable that this man was headed for some type of mental illness. (as we all know too well). That is just my opinion and others may disagree, obviously. The many interviews with those who worked with him and knew him are invaluable and often intriguing. Based on the research of his career, his personal life, and recollections of his peers and family members, I would categorize the movie Autofocus as total fiction. Many readers will skip ahead immediately to the chapters on "Hogan's Heroes," and I urge readers to start from the beginning. You will get there. . The book does not really get into his relationship with Carpenter, etc. and all those sordid details, which is perfectly fine with me. Although, I have a few minor quibbles, I am giving this 5 stars. The authors put in a great deal of time, money and effort into publishing an honest look at a complicated man. He definitely got a raw deal and did not deserve the lies, sordid publicity, and rumors that still follow him.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Rosaria Mineo

    One of the most comprehensive, well-researched, unflinching celebrity biographies out there. I knew next to nothing about Crane outside of Hogan's Heroes. Ford elaborates on his early life, his impact on contemporary radio, and provides a more well-rounded picture of who he was- good, bad, and ugly- than can be found in most other sources. A great read for fans and the uninitiated alike. Packed with great trivia points for radio/tv buffs as well.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kitty Jay

    Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography is one of the most extensive, and thorough, biographies to be published about Bob Crane, the star of sixties television show Hogan's Heroes. Other biographies, including a docudrama starring Greg Kinnear and Willem Dafoe, focus almost exclusively on Crane's very publicized murder and the ensuing scandal regarding his proclivity for homemade pornography and sex addiction. No biography is ever completely objective. The biographer has to take a stance that subtly Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography is one of the most extensive, and thorough, biographies to be published about Bob Crane, the star of sixties television show Hogan's Heroes. Other biographies, including a docudrama starring Greg Kinnear and Willem Dafoe, focus almost exclusively on Crane's very publicized murder and the ensuing scandal regarding his proclivity for homemade pornography and sex addiction. No biography is ever completely objective. The biographer has to take a stance that subtly comes out in the range of interview tidbits and biographical facts chosen to be left in the final manuscript. The best, at least, give some illusion of objectivity. I doubt that a completely objective biography of Bob Crane will ever exist. In many ways, this book was always going to be a reaction to the other numerous books about Bob Crane's private life and unsolved murder. Even the interviews included show that many who knew him during his life were reticent to talk to anyone seeking another salacious tell-all or entertain more theories about the man's death. It is also a reaction to the docudrama Auto-Focus, which painted Crane's life in not only an unsavory, but decidedly pathetic life. Interviews with the director, Schrader, only cemented this: he flat-out stated that Bob Crane was unimportant, but simply a vehicle for the story he wanted to tell. The very public objections of one of Crane's sons and Crane's second ex-wife only added to the scandal and intrigue the movie caused. So the Definitive Biography had an impossibly fine line to walk. Given what they had, they did a marvelous job. Ford and Groundwater go into detail about Crane's life, bolstered by primary records and interviews with those who knew Crane best, all through his early childhood to his meteoric success as a radio personality, Hogan's Heroes, his less-than-successful transition to movies, and eventually the end of his life doing dinner theatre. They purposely choose not to entertain the more gory aspects of his murder, or theorize on the murder, which is refreshing when most biographies and movies can't seem to help themselves pander to a prurient audience. Even Crane's sex addiction is discussed in a way that is sympathetic and sensitive. The problem is that the entire book can come across as a tad hagiographic. Repeatedly the authors protest that Crane was a wonderful actor (debatable, and very subjective), and some of the more contentious aspects of his life are either dismissed or not discussed at all. Two examples come to mind. When interviewing those who starred with Crane on the set of Hogan's Heroes, most are glowing or at least give the bare minimum of saying that Crane was a professional, with the exception of Stewart Moss, who played Olsen on a few episodes. He has some scathing things to say about Crane, though he refused to go into detail with the authors, who rush to point out that everyone else was very positive about Crane. Ultimately, this feels disingenuous. Most of the interviews, with the exception of close family members, seem carefully worded and tactful. It leads to a strong impression of a bygone era in which people insisted that things were perfect and lovely, rather than discuss any real problems. While this is probably for the best for society, it does lead to rather redundant and suspiciously rosy interviews. Other interviews point to a sort of cognitive dissonance, with several proclaiming that Crane was a professional and lovely to work with, but then recalling instances where he behaved badly on set, made several people uncomfortable with openly talking about his sex life, or, at one point, even stopped filming half-way through to literally chase a girl down the street. The second is that the book shies away from casting any judgment on Crane, which is problematic. Again, this is, in many ways, a reaction to the many things said about Crane, almost none of them positive, but also gives a false impression. The book rushes to assure us that Crane's many dalliances were with women who gave consent, but is completely silent on the fact that afterwards, many women were shocked to find out that the encounters had been filmed. The authors didn't shy completely away from the topic - one coworker recalls Crane wanting to divorce his first wife early on in their marriage to propose to a seventeen-year-old girl - but a better balance could have been struck between pointing out Crane's many professional accomplishments and his very obvious problem with addiction, with more outright discussion of the fact that he did do some very unsavory things. While I am sympathetic to the plight of addiction, the fact is that many addicts hurt other people in their pursuit of their addiction, which is what Crane frankly did. Again, the fault, I think, does not lie in the authors, who did the best with what they were given. Many of those they talked to outright stated that they preferred only to talk about the good Crane did in his life; some even seem very sincere in their protestations that Crane was troubled, clearly, but a wonderful man. With so much having been written about Crane's murder, and the fact that many who knew him best have passed on, the authors had to choose a side in order to get anything. Good interviewers know when to push, but there is a distinct impression that in this case, the interviewers threw mostly softball questions and were reluctant to elicit more details. In this case, it's easy to guess why: after forty years of being pressed and prodded for details about Crane, the people who knew him best were already reluctant to talk about it once more, and any sign of pushing would have probably led to abbreviated interviews. One salient example of the impossible situation is with the carefully curated tidbits from Crane's son with his second wife, Scotty. Scotty, in other interviews, has come across as - to be quite honest - creepy. For those not in the know, and it isn't discussed in the book as far as I recall, Scotty ran a website where he sold many of his father's homemade pornographic films and insisted that his dad would have wanted it that way. He also protested vehemently against the movie Auto-Focus, primarily on the topic of his dad having a penile enhancement; in one interview, he apparently offered to "prove" that his dad was well-endowed by showing his own privates to the interviewer. Crane's son from his first marriage helped with the film Auto-Focus, which led to a quite contentious battle between Crane's second wife Patricia Olson, Scotty, and Bobby. Crane's daughter, Karen, seemed to be the only sensible one and it's telling that this book contains probably the most she's ever said about her famous father*. All of this is quite well known and was deliberately fanned in newspapers and magazines as free publicity for the film. Olson, however, has claimed in at least some interviews that Crane showed Scotty some of his pornographic material as young as the age of 4 and this is the reason she filed for divorce; Scotty has also maintained that Crane was very open with his son about his pornographic material. Now, the authors wisely chose to remain mostly silent on the entire topic of this family feud and only rather neutral comments by Scotty remain in the book; Olson is rarely quoted at all. Now you see the author's dilemma: without dragging in this entire backstory, they could sidestep the drama that the Crane legacy is entrenched in; however, leaving it out entirely leaves out the very real possibility that Crane was doing some very wrong things. The book is excellently resourced and researched, the writing is fair (though at least on the Kindle edition, plagued with several distracting typos), and is probably the most complete accounting of Crane's life available. I still enjoy watching Hogan's Heroes, and I think that Crane did have a remarkable talent for radio and a gift for TV comedy. In this case, I don't think a complete, accurate, accounting of Crane's life is possible. The water has been muddied too many times and too much time has passed for that to be possible. For what was able to be teased out, Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography is probably the most accurate and neutral book out there about the life of Bob Crane. *Out of idle curiosity: Crane had two daughters, Deborah and Karen. Yet I have only ever seen Karen mentioned, and in one case, an interviewee mentioned "his [Crane's] daughter", in the singular. Whatever happened to Deborah Crane?

  5. 4 out of 5

    David

    this book is in dire need of an editor. There were far too many repetitions and reiterations of the same things said by the same people, over and over and OVER again. I get it: Bob Crane was a good guy and universally liked. We don't need it pounded into our heads over several hundreds of pages of quotes and interviews. This book also achieved its bloated length by prefacing professional opinions on Crane's behavior with lists of credentials of those professionals that are in some cases over a p this book is in dire need of an editor. There were far too many repetitions and reiterations of the same things said by the same people, over and over and OVER again. I get it: Bob Crane was a good guy and universally liked. We don't need it pounded into our heads over several hundreds of pages of quotes and interviews. This book also achieved its bloated length by prefacing professional opinions on Crane's behavior with lists of credentials of those professionals that are in some cases over a page long-- EACH. Another section meticulously lists every additional special TV appearance Crane did while simultaneously filming Hogan's Heroes. That alone took several pages that I did not care to read. Then it limply ends on the note of "well, you all know about the lurid details of Bob's death" without adding anything at all in the way of facts. I get the point: that the book is about Crane's life and not his death, but it took altogether too many pages to get that point across. Also, there is very little written about Crane's children, particular Bob Crane from his second marriage. Granted, that son wrote a self-serving and controversial book on his father prior to this one, but still... omitting one of the few people who were close to him and still around makes for a very biased portrayal. This book would get only one star from me, but at least it did succeed in conveying just how incredibly busy and productive Bob Crane was in his career. It's amazing what one person can achieve if they are focused, even if apparently a lot of that focus was driven by addiction. I thought that the research done on his early life was also enlightening and well done. The second half of this book really runs out of steam, though.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Adele Cardinal

    I loved this book. Finally a book that tells the true and complete story of Bob Crane.

  7. 4 out of 5

    John Miller

    This exhaustively researched biography of Bob Crane paints a portrait of a man who excelled at all he attempted: drummer, radio host, and actor in theater, a hit television series, and movies. A devoted father, Bob Crane was a workaholic who sought to continuously improve, to always make tomorrow better than yesterday. And then a gruesome murder, and the fantasy unraveled. Bob Crane’s life has been blemished far too long, defined by his flaws. Carol Ford and her colleagues have successfully move This exhaustively researched biography of Bob Crane paints a portrait of a man who excelled at all he attempted: drummer, radio host, and actor in theater, a hit television series, and movies. A devoted father, Bob Crane was a workaholic who sought to continuously improve, to always make tomorrow better than yesterday. And then a gruesome murder, and the fantasy unraveled. Bob Crane’s life has been blemished far too long, defined by his flaws. Carol Ford and her colleagues have successfully moved the man to the forefront, trumpeted his successes, and preserved a legacy that deserves to be applauded, remembered, and respected.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Bob

    A well written and researched biography about a very complicated story.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Julie Pemberton

  10. 4 out of 5

    James

  11. 5 out of 5

    Glenn

  12. 5 out of 5

    Elzevir

  13. 5 out of 5

    Russell Macphail

  14. 4 out of 5

    James McVay

  15. 4 out of 5

    Tom

  16. 5 out of 5

    Amber Geronsin

  17. 4 out of 5

    Vincent

  18. 5 out of 5

    Patricia

  19. 4 out of 5

    Pam Hendricks

  20. 5 out of 5

    Debra Pressley

  21. 4 out of 5

    Carolann

  22. 5 out of 5

    ron woodill

  23. 4 out of 5

    Theresa LaTorre

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ruthellenp

  25. 5 out of 5

    S Strannix

  26. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

  27. 5 out of 5

    Angela

    This is a great book, the authors really did a great job in getting all the research they did. I learned so much about Bob crane that I never knew before. He really was a nice guy, a hard worker, and loved his children dearly. He just had an addiction all his life that he was able to control, till it got out of control. I think that John Carpenter knew about his addiction and took advantage of it, probably trying to convince him to go to these parties and clubs to pick up girls, and then he prob This is a great book, the authors really did a great job in getting all the research they did. I learned so much about Bob crane that I never knew before. He really was a nice guy, a hard worker, and loved his children dearly. He just had an addiction all his life that he was able to control, till it got out of control. I think that John Carpenter knew about his addiction and took advantage of it, probably trying to convince him to go to these parties and clubs to pick up girls, and then he probably encouraged him to film it too,Which probably caused his addiction to get out of control. I love how the cast of Hogan's Heroes made a pact that they would only do interviews if they could talk about good stuff about Bob, and not the negative. Its sad how Bob knew his addiction was getting out of control and was trying to get help for it when he was murdered. It's sad that his murder was never solved. I have heard so many theories about his murder, That a crazed fan who was stalking him killed him, that neo-nazis or germans killed him because they didn't like how they were portrayed in Hogan's heroes, to John carpenter killing him because he wanted to end his friendship, I even heard others claim that Richard Dawson was involved int he murder. I think we will never know who did it. This book is very well put together, and I couldn't put it down. I have the hardcover edition, which is a huge book, but it took me a day and a half to read it all.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Patricia McClenaghan

  29. 5 out of 5

    Bernard

  30. 5 out of 5

    Cindy

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