Sex. Murder. Mystery. The story had all the ingredients of a Hollywood movie plot. On June 29, 1978, a 49-year-old man was found bludgeoned to death in a Scottsdale, Ariz., apartment, his battered head covered in blood, an electrical cord bow-tied around his neck. The bizarre crime was made even more tabloid-worthy by its victim: Bob Crane, a popular ex-TV actor (Hogan’s Heroes) with good-guy looks. But police scrutiny brought into focus a less wholesome side to Crane (who had been working in dinner theater after a brief crack at a big-screen career fizzled). In his apartment, he kept homemade porn: He and friend John Carpenter, a video equipment salesman, would record their sexual exploits with women using Crane’s video camera. One theory stated that Carpenter — the last man to see the victim alive — became distressed after Crane supposedly tried to sever their friendship, and turned on him. (The murder weapon, never recovered, was thought by some to be a camera tripod.)
In 1992, 14 years after Crane’s death, Carpenter was charged with first-degree murder; a jury acquitted him in 1994, citing a lack of evidence. The Crane case remains unsolved, an unnerving epilogue to the life of a sitcom star.
June 29, 1978
Millions of readers race to buy Jim Fixx’s best-seller The Complete Book of Running; ironically, in July 1984 Fixx would drop dead of a heart attack while jogging. TThe Bee Gees’ baby brother, Andy Gibb (right), scores his third No. 1, ”Shadow Dancing,” five months after his sibs’ Saturday Night Fever hits the top spot. Sadly, he would not live long to bask in his fame, dying of a heart ailment in 1988 at age 30. Future Thighmistress Suzanne Somers jiggles her way through Three’s Company; 13 years later, she will return to sitcom success with fellow ’70s survivor Patrick Duffy (Dallas) in Step by Step. And in the Real World, the Supreme Court orders the University of California to admit aspiring med student Allan Bakke, a white man who had sued the school for ”reverse discrimination” through its affirmative action quota system. Angry classmates later demonstrate during his enrollment.
What Ever Happened to Wener Lemperer?
”There are only two types of actors — good and bad,” says Werner Klemperer. ”If you’re good, you can achieve your goal in any medium.” Given, the man who earned TV fame as Colonel Klink in Hogan’s Heroes may not be the Kommandant of All Media yet, but he’s working on it. Having made a name for himself in such movies as Judgment at Nuremberg, the two-time Emmy winner struggled with typecasting after Heroes ended in 1971 and turned to the theater, earning a Tony nod in 1987’s revival of Cabaret. (He’s planning to tour the U.S. with companion Kim Hamilton in A.R. Gurney’s play Love Letters.) The 73-year-old German-born son of conductor Otto Klemperer also appears with symphony orchestras, narrating classical works such as Beethoven’s Egmont. And he still pops up on TV, most recently on Law & Order, The Simpsons, and Politically Incorrect (tune in June 23). He has made his peace with the monocled dummkopf who made him famous: ”I have no qualms; the show put me on the map as an actor.”