All of us who grew up in the 60’s watched Hogan’s Heroes, the show that demonstrated just how hilarious life could be in a Nazi POW camp. The show ran for 6 seasons on CBS and then for decades more in syndication (even reaching German viewers in the early 90s’).
Here are a few things about the show that you may not know:
1. The Show Was Supposed to Be Set in an American Prison
Show creator Albert Ruddy changed his original script when he heard NBC was planning a sit-com based in an Italian POW camp. Ruddy thought he would one-up NBC by putting his prisoners in a German camp.
2. All of the Main German Characters Were Portrayed by Jewish Actors
The actors who portrayed Klink, Schultz, Burkhalter and Hochstetter were all Jewish and three of the four had actually fled Germany to escape Hitler.
3. Richard Dawson Wanted His Character to Be from Liverpool
Show producers thought that accent would be too difficult for American audiences to understand. The Beatles proved the producers wrong.
4. General Burkhalter Received a Promotion After the Pilot Was Filmed
Leon Askin played a Colonel Burkhalter in the series’ pilot. Someone must have noticed that he didn’t really outrank Colonel Klink. So by the next episode, he had been promoted to General. However, Askin did not play the character in that particular episode. He returned to the role a little later.
5. Carter Actually Escaped from Stalag 13 in the Very First Episode
Larry Hovis (Carter) was not set to be a series regular. He appeared in the pilot episode as an American soldier Hogan’s team was smuggling out of Germany. Producers must have liked him because when the series went into regular production, Hovis was back at Stalag 13 playing the same character, but no explanation for why he was back at the camp was ever given.
6. The Set Was Destroyed During the Making of Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS
After Hogan’s Heroes wrapped production, the standing set was used by producers of the notoriously trashy film Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS. At the end of that film, the camp is destroyed during warfare.
7. 4 of the Cast Members Recorded an Album of WWII Songs
Richard Dawson, Robert Clary, Larry Hovis and Ivan Dixon actually formed a quartet and filled an album with songs from the WWII era plus a vocal version of the Hogan’s Heroes theme song!
8. The Show Was Produced by Bing Crosby
Think about that the next time you watch White Christmas.