Monday, May 15, 2006

Reflections on Hogan's Heroes

This is a longish story that begins with a great crime fighting show Inspector Rex (Kommissar Rex) specifically an episode titled "Bring mir den Kopf von Beethoven". There's a brief appearance by one actor in that episode who looked a lot like the man who played General Burkhalter (IMDB reveals the actor's name is Leon Askin).

When trying to determine if Askin ever appeared on Inspector Rex, first I had to go to IMDB to find the actor. IMDB does not have any credit for the Rex for this actor, but I did find that he had returned to Vienna (where Rex was filmed) and had died in 2005. That was a bit of a surprise, he was quite obese and lived to 98! The official site for Leon Askin does not mention Kommissar Rex either but the actor was in the right place at the right time to be on the show.

So back to reflections on Hogan's Heroes. I had previously heard that Werner Klemperer was Jewish German and his family made it out of Germany in the 1930s. Further investigation shows that John Banner was also from Vienna. While I never thought about it as a kid, no wonder the Germans on Hogan's Heroes sounded authentic. Three of the key Germans on the show spoke German as a first language.

Oh, and the credits of that episode of Inspector Rex do have Leon Askin as the last of the guests. So in the end, I was right. He was looking pretty good for an actor in his 90s.

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