Capalaba author researches Hogan's Heroes' Bob Crane

Linda Groundwater has written a book on Hogan s Heroes star Bob Crane. 
 
Photo by Chris McCormack
Linda Groundwater has written a book on Hogan s Heroes star Bob Crane. Photo by Chris McCormack
Linda Groundwater has written a book on Bob Crane.Photo by Chris McCormack

Linda Groundwater has written a book on Bob Crane.Photo by Chris McCormack

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BY day, Linda Groundwater, of Capalaba, works at a local bank and in the small hours of the morning, she chats to famous Hollywood producers.

Such has been her life for the past 12 years since undertaking the biography of Bob Crane, well known for his role as Colonel Hogan in the iconic TV series Hogan's Heroes.

"It started in 2003 when I went to my mother-in-law's at Alexandra Hills. We didn't have cable and I was flicking channels when I saw an old episode of Hogan's Heroes. I remembered watching this with my dad in Massachusetts and I remembered Bob Crane dying when I was about 11. I decided to look into it," Linda said.

Bob Crane was bludgeoned to death in June 1978 at the age of 50.

A search of his house revealed a man with a sex addiction that had been documented with film and video, just as he had done with all facets of his life.

Linda said Bob had sought help to stop his addition only weeks before his death, wishing it to remain secret, particularly from his children.

Linda said that while her internet search revealed much of what she "didn't want to see" at the time, it also revealed a man with many facets and she felt it was a shame he was not remembered for these.

"Sex was not the only part of his life. He was an excellent drummer who played with some of his idols, he revolutionised radio, was very generous with charities and he grew up in New England near where I did. I didn't think it was fair that so much of this gets lost when you hear his story.

"And that's how my brain works: If I think something isn't fair, I see what I can do," Linda said.

"You have to remember that in the 1970s nothing much was known about sex addiction and a scandal then would not be a scandal today, especially when everything was with consent," she said.

A former radio news reporter, Linda said the internet had made the world "a small place" as she researched the amazing man that was Bob Crane.

During her research she read hundreds of print resources and talked to more than 200 people including friends, co-workers, family and school friends.

She interviewed Bob's youngest son, friends and co-workers including the producer of The Godfather Al Ruddy, directors Bruce Bilson and Jerry London, Bob's cousin Jim Senich and Gary Owens of Laugh In.

Joining her in 2006 was Carol Ford of New Jersey and Dee Young of WICC Radio in Connecticut.

"There were people out there who had never spoken to anyone about Bob.

"One, because no one asked; and two, because no one listened.

"Those who had spoken in the past were reluctant to do so again because their words had been twisted. It took a long time for some people to trust us.

"But our feedback has been positive and everyone is glad we are doing this," Linda said, noting the book has the full support of two of Bob's children.

Linda said the book stopped at his death, instead focussing on the rest of his life.

"It has taken some time, but we wanted to make sure we got it right. Sure, he was no saint. He did things wrong just like any human being, but no one should be judged for their whole life in such a public way. He had no control over his exposure.

"By all accounts, Bob was a nice guy - his cousin called him 'a big teddy bear who was loved by everybody'."

Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography (650 pages) comes out on September 17 to commemorate the 50th anniversary since the premiere of Hogan's Heroes.

The hard cover special edition with bonus materials can be pre-ordered through Amazon for US$26.99.

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