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Crane: Sex, Celebrity, and My Father's Unsolved Murder (Screen Classics)

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On June 29, 1978, Bob Crane, known to "Hogan's Heroes" fans as Colonel Hogan, was discovered brutally murdered in his Scottsdale, Arizona, apartment. His eldest son, Robert Crane, was called in to identify the body. In this poignant memoir, Robert Crane discusses that terrible day and how he has lived with the unsolved murder of his father. But this storyline is just one t On June 29, 1978, Bob Crane, known to "Hogan's Heroes" fans as Colonel Hogan, was discovered brutally murdered in his Scottsdale, Arizona, apartment. His eldest son, Robert Crane, was called in to identify the body. In this poignant memoir, Robert Crane discusses that terrible day and how he has lived with the unsolved murder of his father. But this storyline is just one thread in his tale of growing up in Los Angeles, his struggles to reconcile the good and sordid sides of his celebrity father, and his own fascinating life. Crane began his career writing for "Oui" magazine and spent many years interviewing celebrities for "Playboy" -- stars such as Chevy Chase, Bruce Dern, Joan Rivers, and even Koko the signing gorilla. As a result of a raucous encounter with the cast of Canada's "SCTV," he found himself shelving his notepad and tape recorder to enter the employ of John Candy -- first as an on-again, off-again publicist; then as a full-time assistant, confidant, screenwriter, and producer; and finally as one of Candy's pallbearers. Through disappointment, loss, and heartbreak, Crane's humor and perseverance shine. Beyond the big stars and shocking behind-the-scenes revelations, this riveting account of death, survival, and renewal in the shadow of the Hollywood sign makes a profound statement about the desire for love and permanence in a life where those things continually slip away. By turns shocking and uplifting, "Crane" is an unforgettable and deeply human story.


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On June 29, 1978, Bob Crane, known to "Hogan's Heroes" fans as Colonel Hogan, was discovered brutally murdered in his Scottsdale, Arizona, apartment. His eldest son, Robert Crane, was called in to identify the body. In this poignant memoir, Robert Crane discusses that terrible day and how he has lived with the unsolved murder of his father. But this storyline is just one t On June 29, 1978, Bob Crane, known to "Hogan's Heroes" fans as Colonel Hogan, was discovered brutally murdered in his Scottsdale, Arizona, apartment. His eldest son, Robert Crane, was called in to identify the body. In this poignant memoir, Robert Crane discusses that terrible day and how he has lived with the unsolved murder of his father. But this storyline is just one thread in his tale of growing up in Los Angeles, his struggles to reconcile the good and sordid sides of his celebrity father, and his own fascinating life. Crane began his career writing for "Oui" magazine and spent many years interviewing celebrities for "Playboy" -- stars such as Chevy Chase, Bruce Dern, Joan Rivers, and even Koko the signing gorilla. As a result of a raucous encounter with the cast of Canada's "SCTV," he found himself shelving his notepad and tape recorder to enter the employ of John Candy -- first as an on-again, off-again publicist; then as a full-time assistant, confidant, screenwriter, and producer; and finally as one of Candy's pallbearers. Through disappointment, loss, and heartbreak, Crane's humor and perseverance shine. Beyond the big stars and shocking behind-the-scenes revelations, this riveting account of death, survival, and renewal in the shadow of the Hollywood sign makes a profound statement about the desire for love and permanence in a life where those things continually slip away. By turns shocking and uplifting, "Crane" is an unforgettable and deeply human story.

30 review for Crane: Sex, Celebrity, and My Father's Unsolved Murder (Screen Classics)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mediaman

    Misleading title--this book is more about Crane's son's career and even John Candy than it is about the Hogan's Heroes star. Yes, it's hard to believe that about 1/3 of a book about the great Bob Crane actually is about John Candy! TV star Crane has virtually nothing to do with Candy--but Crane's son wrote this book and worked for Candy so in the middle of what could have been a great murder mystery about his dad the author takes a bizarre turn into working for Candy and writing articles for Play Misleading title--this book is more about Crane's son's career and even John Candy than it is about the Hogan's Heroes star. Yes, it's hard to believe that about 1/3 of a book about the great Bob Crane actually is about John Candy! TV star Crane has virtually nothing to do with Candy--but Crane's son wrote this book and worked for Candy so in the middle of what could have been a great murder mystery about his dad the author takes a bizarre turn into working for Candy and writing articles for Playboy (none of which have anything to do with Crane senior). If you're looking for a great book about the Hogan's Heroes actor, this isn't it. The first third is actually interesting, with chapters alternating back and forth between the dad's murder and the son's growing up years with his famous father. Some of it is shocking. This could have been a great book but instead the author decided to switch the focus of the book to himself and his own tepid career. Trust me, even though he met some of the biggest stars in Hollywood and wrote about them, he has almost no interesting stories to tell about his work. Virtually every story goes nowhere. Just when you think he's going to tell you something juicy or revealing, the story just putters out. And at 300 pages that's a lot of wasted opportunity. Another problem is that the star's son seems to think the reader will be interested in his private life. Not really, at least based on how it's told here. His first wife was a feminist he didn't understand (the Crane dad was a conservative and the son was raised in a very traditional family), who apparently had an affair while diagnosed with cancer without Crane Jr. objecting, and she died at age 41. The guy's second wife gets barely mentioned even though she had an interesting job as production crew member for some of the biggest sitcom hits on TV. The book loses direction and the author ends up mostly defending his father and himself against the star's second wife (who played Klink's secretary on Hogan's Heroes). The author attacks a number of people numerous times, especially his step-mother and step-brother (who was also named Robert Crane and neither of them were technically "Jr."). For as much as the writer wants to claim he's a nice guy the book is filled with bitterness (some of it understandable). The step-mother secretly moved Crane's burial place, then when she died the new grave marker that listed Bob Crane's children left off the author's name. That hurts. But instead of using the book to grieve he just makes snarky remarks about the woman. Get mad already! Show some emotion instead of playing everything so cool, trying to be just like your famous dad. One big issue never really addressed by the son is how he was impacted by his famous dad showing him pornography as a child. He seems to want to avoid the issue, even making fun of an interviewer asking him the question on The View. The fact is that Bob Crane had a major addiction, he did something completely inappropriate by exposing a young boy to a father's affairs (including a picture of Crane & the step-mother having a threesome), and there is no analysis from the kid of how any of this was a problem. Is it worth reading? Yes--but have your expectations set properly. This is not a book about Bob Crane's murder. You will be no closer to knowing who did it at the end of the book than you are at the start of the book. However, it is a book about a son who met a lot of famous people, had a lot of ups and downs in life, and has stories to tell. Too bad they weren't told in a better way.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Catherine

    Did not finish. Needed to return to library & just not interested in son's life... Did not finish. Needed to return to library & just not interested in son's life...

  3. 4 out of 5

    Tina

    I was a bit young when Hogan's Heroes was on TV, however, I do remember the show and thought that Bob Crane was excellent in the role, which is why I was interested in reading this book. Written by his son, this is obviously his version of life with his dad and for this reason, I gave him some leeway. This book is oddly set up and it can make it difficult to follow. We have Bob Crane's (and his son) before Hogan's Heroes mixed together with the 1978 incident where Crane is murdered. Towards the l I was a bit young when Hogan's Heroes was on TV, however, I do remember the show and thought that Bob Crane was excellent in the role, which is why I was interested in reading this book. Written by his son, this is obviously his version of life with his dad and for this reason, I gave him some leeway. This book is oddly set up and it can make it difficult to follow. We have Bob Crane's (and his son) before Hogan's Heroes mixed together with the 1978 incident where Crane is murdered. Towards the last half of the book, the son throws in some of his own life experiences up to this day. I wish it had all flowed better because as I said, it can get confusing, especially if you are reading it on a Kindle. I did like that Hogan is not portrayed as a saint nor a horrible person, but rather someone with issues that seriously needed to be addressed. I also thought that the son's stories about his dad were entertaining and it was nice to see how close they were. The portions with John Candy were also quite interesting although I have to say that when read in this context I feel as though the author had to suffer through many important deaths in his life. Liked this book very much despite the weird order it is presented in and I would have liked more pictures. Finally, it is sad that this murder is still not solved. Captivating read.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Arthur

    Loved Hogan's Heroes as a boy - I remember hearing about his death and asking my Mother about it - shhhh... was her diplomatic response. The film "Auto Focus" gave me some of the answers I never got until this book offered plenty more to the story - great bio of the complex Colonel Hogan and his bizarre life, as well as the truly interesting life of his son Robert. Great read, and one for any fans of John Candy as well. Highly recommend.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ronnie Cramer

    I enjoyed this book and was interested in the son's experiences and observations, but if you want to read about Bob Crane and his murder, you should probably stick with Robert Graysmith's THE MURDER OF BOB CRANE.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    Crane's son has taken on the daunting task of chronicling his father's life and his untimely and brutal death. He also describes his own career, which creates a kind of extended footnote to the story of his father's life. Much is chronicled about Crane's father, but little insight into the inner workings of this talented and troubled man is provided. I find it telling that Crane aspired to be like Jack Lemmon, of whom he bore no small resemblance. Lemmon had gravitas in addition to a comic spiri Crane's son has taken on the daunting task of chronicling his father's life and his untimely and brutal death. He also describes his own career, which creates a kind of extended footnote to the story of his father's life. Much is chronicled about Crane's father, but little insight into the inner workings of this talented and troubled man is provided. I find it telling that Crane aspired to be like Jack Lemmon, of whom he bore no small resemblance. Lemmon had gravitas in addition to a comic spirit. He was respectable intellectually. Had this been withheld from Crane, rightly or wrongly? What propelled him into the ever more self-involved world of homemade pornography? And seriously, did no one ever intervene? You don't need to have Dr. Phil, Dr. Drew, or, indeed, Drs. Kinsey or Masters to discern that Crane's behavior was a little bit off the norm. Crane wastes no words hinting at whom he points fingers about his father's death, and where there is no clarity about either suspect, he posits that they may have been in cahoots. A sad and perhaps somewhat Solomonic methodology. Crane the son writes well, but this pleasure is not sufficient to carry the day (or evening, or weekend, for this is a long book) with this work. A noble undertaking by a loving son -- the stories of playing fantasy baseball in the swimming pool are wonderful -- but neither love nor good prose crack the true mystery here -- who was Bob Crane?

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    As others have mentioned, the title is a bit misleading. Although the book does address the murder of Bob Crane, that discussion is interwoven with the authors autobiography of sorts. Still, I did find this book to be refreshing in the manner in which it was written. Perhaps I'm just getting "burned out" with the usual true crime format. To me they have come to feel formulated and predictable in their direction. Maybe I've read too many. Perhaps that's why I enjoyed this book. The author, the so As others have mentioned, the title is a bit misleading. Although the book does address the murder of Bob Crane, that discussion is interwoven with the authors autobiography of sorts. Still, I did find this book to be refreshing in the manner in which it was written. Perhaps I'm just getting "burned out" with the usual true crime format. To me they have come to feel formulated and predictable in their direction. Maybe I've read too many. Perhaps that's why I enjoyed this book. The author, the son of course, did a very good job in my opinion in dealing with his own feelings and his insight into the workings of his father, a very sick man. I'm a guy, I've enjoyed a bit of porn over the years, but there are limits, of which the father exceeded by a mile. This whole endeavor of his became a sickness that controlled him. After reading the book it seems to me that the son has risen above the dirt that his father had dragged him through, not only the porn, but the divorce, and relationships with the new step mother and her son. I think the book was very well written and I would recommend it

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    I loved Bob Crane, back in the day, and have been intrigued by his "unsolved" murder. Actually, it's pretty apparent that "friend" John Carpenter murdered Crane, from other books I've read on the subject. This author appealed to me because it's Crane's oldest son. His younger son went to the other end of the spectrum, selling porn videos of his dad after his death, and Crane's two daughters have remained mum on the subject. I should have believed the reviews I read beforehand. The beginning of t I loved Bob Crane, back in the day, and have been intrigued by his "unsolved" murder. Actually, it's pretty apparent that "friend" John Carpenter murdered Crane, from other books I've read on the subject. This author appealed to me because it's Crane's oldest son. His younger son went to the other end of the spectrum, selling porn videos of his dad after his death, and Crane's two daughters have remained mum on the subject. I should have believed the reviews I read beforehand. The beginning of the book pulled me in. But almost the remainder was about Bob Jr.'s client, John Candy, who he managed during his peak days of stardom. Then, the ending veered back to the murder. All in all, it's a book about Bob Jr. Dang it. As usual, after reading an "expose" about a celebrity, I'm left wondering why stars have spouses and children, at all. The famous parent is never home and the kids grow up resentful, of course. It's a pattern that never changes.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    Good book about a confusing man and father I always liked Hogan's Heroes. I didn't think about Bob Crane beyond his role. I remember the murder reports. And that's it. But for his children and wives, the death was just a part of their life with this enigmatic man. The book traces Crane's life, career, murder, and the legal and criminal case. His son talks about his mom, a little about his sisters, and more about Crane's weird second wife, as well as his own life and dealing with his dad's confusin Good book about a confusing man and father I always liked Hogan's Heroes. I didn't think about Bob Crane beyond his role. I remember the murder reports. And that's it. But for his children and wives, the death was just a part of their life with this enigmatic man. The book traces Crane's life, career, murder, and the legal and criminal case. His son talks about his mom, a little about his sisters, and more about Crane's weird second wife, as well as his own life and dealing with his dad's confusing legacy. It's informative and interesting. I enjoyed the book, which is extremely well written by his oldest son with his longtime friend. But I really don't understand Crane. He was an attractive, likeable actor, who was deeply into pornography and didn't mind sharing that with people. You get the feeling he was just totally detached, maybe a little empty.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Terry Collins

    I'm in agreement with other reviewers that this biography is more about Robert Crane (Bob Crane's son and author) than Colonel Hogan himself. However, for those of us who remain fascinated with the Crane murder case, there are plenty of family tidbits and insights. The title is very misleading, but at the same time, undoubtedly drove book sales from the university publishing house that released the book. If you are wanting the most extensive look at the case, pick up Robert Graysmith's book THE I'm in agreement with other reviewers that this biography is more about Robert Crane (Bob Crane's son and author) than Colonel Hogan himself. However, for those of us who remain fascinated with the Crane murder case, there are plenty of family tidbits and insights. The title is very misleading, but at the same time, undoubtedly drove book sales from the university publishing house that released the book. If you are wanting the most extensive look at the case, pick up Robert Graysmith's book THE MURDER OF BOB CRANE, which is impeccably researched and presented (and also served as the basis for the fascinating film version of the story AUTO FOCUS). I hope Crane's son rid himself of some demons with this book, and it also drove me to pick up a used copy of the film on DVD that I hope to watch again soon (I haven't seen it since the movie was first released).

  11. 4 out of 5

    Charles M.

    Poorly written memoir of the son of actor Robert Crane, star of "Hogan's Heroes"; regarding his own life as a freelance writer and his periodic ventures into dealing with his father's murder in 1978. That murder has goner unsolved all these years; and the writer has had to come to terms that his father was heavily active in pornography and other illegal activities..

  12. 5 out of 5

    Toni

    Sensitively written examination of a complex relationship between a father and son. He does his father proud in presenting a rounded portrait rather than letting Bob Crane's reputation remain shredded by uninformed public perception. Plus, I now have lot's of movie recommendations to add to my Netflix list!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    a pleasant surprise I wasn't sure what to expect with this book. I suppose I was expecting a son's quest to discover what happened to his famous father. But that part of the story was much less significant than the tales of love, loss and friendship. I enjoyed this very much.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Avid

    Would have been better to just stick to tbe bob crane sex and murder issues than branching off into robert crane (author): "this is my life". Only about 20% of this book is about bob crane. Not enough to justify the title.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jamey DuVall

    Half of it is about his famous father, but the other half is about his work with John Candy. It should have been titled Candy Crane.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Catherine Wetzel

    Disappointed. Thought it would be more about Bob Crane. I learned more on Wikipedia.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Pat Lampe

    I enjoyed this memoir very much. It was interesting and well written with very good humor throughout.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kayo

    Interesting book. Not all about authors father. He certainly has quite a work history of his own. Very enjoyable.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Rj

    A local television station that plays old syndicated television shows began playing Hogan's Heroes and I had forgotten how much of a crush I had on Bob Crane when I was a kid so I looked up the book in the library. I knew that he was murdered and a few of the sordid details from the press at the time but really didn't know exactly what happened. Robert David Crane the son of Bob Crane from his first marriage who knew his father before and after his success with the television shows and a few fil A local television station that plays old syndicated television shows began playing Hogan's Heroes and I had forgotten how much of a crush I had on Bob Crane when I was a kid so I looked up the book in the library. I knew that he was murdered and a few of the sordid details from the press at the time but really didn't know exactly what happened. Robert David Crane the son of Bob Crane from his first marriage who knew his father before and after his success with the television shows and a few films details in alternating chapters the story of his both his father's life and how his father's life and death impacted his own life as a journalist and writer. Far too often stories about celebrities who meet grisly ends are told as sensationalistic, salacious morality tales, Crane, the author avoids this through a simple recounting of what happened to his father giving him back the agency that is so often lost in the retelling of the stories of the dead. As he writes in the book his great gift as a journalist was always to give his subjects their voice in his writing and in this book he allowed his own father to speak.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Deborah Castellanos

    This was an interesting book to read. I really thought when I started reading it that it was going to cover the murder of Robert Crane when in fact it turned out to be more of a memoir. Which in fact had I realized in the beginning I probably wouldn't have started reading it. But I'm glad I did because it was the first time I enjoyed reading a book like that. He kept the story going in a very interesting manner. He wrapped his story around the fact that he grew up as a child of a very popular ac This was an interesting book to read. I really thought when I started reading it that it was going to cover the murder of Robert Crane when in fact it turned out to be more of a memoir. Which in fact had I realized in the beginning I probably wouldn't have started reading it. But I'm glad I did because it was the first time I enjoyed reading a book like that. He kept the story going in a very interesting manner. He wrapped his story around the fact that he grew up as a child of a very popular actor who at that time turned out to be a loving father even though he was making some decisions and life choices that would have been frowned on by many. Never got bored. It was sad about the investigation and how it was handled. I totally agree with the author about who was responsible.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Courtenay

    Title is misleading, it's mostly about his son. But he has led an interesting life, so it did keep my attention.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    #11 of 120 books pledged to read during 2018

  23. 5 out of 5

    Christian Petrie

  24. 4 out of 5

    Deb

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sarah King

  26. 4 out of 5

    Teri Hofstetter

  27. 5 out of 5

    Don E. Bush, Jr.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jodie

  30. 5 out of 5

    Michael Flood

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