12 incredibly true facts about 'Hogan's Heroes'

"Know nothing" about 'Hogan's Heroes'? Not after this batch of fascinating trivia.

There has never been a show quite like Hogan's Heroes. (Well, perhaps F Troop.) The CBS sitcom mined a hard and heavy period of history for its humor, as it chronicled the exploits of a cunning group of Allied soldiers in a Nazi POW camp. The quick wits and charisma of the good guys played by Bob Crane and Richard Dawson, not to mention the brilliant bumbling of Werner Klemperer and John Banner, played a large part in the series' success.

Hogan's Heroes launched in September 1965 and became a top ten show in its first season, running for five more years. Through its six-year life span, the comedy garnered 12 Emmy nominations, winning two for Klemperer's portrayal of Colonel Klink.

The premise, the scenarios and the cast make it one of the more endlessly fascinating shows of the 1960s, both onscreen and off.

1. The original script had the show set in an American jail.


Series co-creator Albert S. Ruddy first set Hogan and his heroes in a domestic clink. He rewrote the script upon learning that NBC was developing a show titled Campo 44, which would be set in an Italian WWII prison camp. In an interview that appears on the Hogan's Heroes complete series DVD set, Ruddy claims that it took him just a day to rework the show into its WWII setting. Three years ago, Ruddy and Bernard Fein won the rights to the show back from billionaire basketball owner Mark Cuban. 

Image: The Everett Collection

2. Richard Dawson wanted his character to have a Liverpool accent.


The rakish British star originally auditioned for Hogan, but could not pull off a convincing enough American accent. Instead, he was cast as Cpl. Newkirk of the RAF. Dawson at first performed the role with a Liverpudlian accent, but was told by the network that nobody could understand him. Dawson switched to a Cockney dialect. When Beatlemania exploded in the States, Dawson jokingly told his bosses, "I told you so." 

3. Stalag 13 initially had an underground steam room.


With its network of tunnels and trap doors, Stalag 13 was certainly far-fetched. At first, it was even more fantastical. The prisoners had an underground steam room. It was removed for being deemed too outlandish. 

Image and model: Brian Williams / Flickr

4. The actors playing the four main German roles were Jewish.


Klemperer (Klink), Banner (Schultz), Leon Askin (Burkhalter) and Howard Caine (Hochstetter) were Jewish, and all but the latter had fled the Nazis during WWII. Additionally, Robert Clary, who played the cooking French corporal, LeBeau, had been interned at a concentration camp. Klemperer stated at the time, "I am an actor. If I can play Richard III, I can play a Nazi." The actor insisted that Hogan always won out over his captors. 

5. The show used the tagline "If you liked World War II, you'll love 'Hogan's Heroes'!"


The tagline was sarcastically suggested by comedian and author Stan Freberg in an interview with Bob Crane in The Sunday Times, on September 15, 1965. "Shall we say, 'If you liked World War II...you'll love Hogan's Heroes?'" Freberg dryly asks. "No, let's not say that, no," Crane responds. Nevertheless, it became the tagline. 

Image: AV Club

6. A 'Hogan's Heroes' album was released featuring cast members singing songs from WWII.


Clary, Dawson and costars Larry Hovis (Carter) and Ivan Dixon (Kinchloe) — pictured on the album cover — used the success of the series to showcase their singing talents. The four sang popular songs of the 1940s on this tie-in album. The liner notes on the back begin, "Would you believe World War II was funny?"

Image: Discogs

7. The theme song actually had lyrics.


The chirpy instrumental march that opened and closed each episode had secret lyrics. Robert Clary, Richard Dawson, Ivan Dixon and Larry Hovis formed a quartet of singing Heroes for the show's soundtrack.

Heroes, heroes, husky men of war,
Sons of all the heroes of the war before.
We're all heroes up to our ear-o's
You ask the questions
We make suggestions
That's what we're heroes for.

Check out all four verses here.

Image: The Everett Collection

8. The Mercedes touring car used on the show was one of three in existence.


General Burkalter, Klink's boss, would wheel up to the camp in the stylish Mercedes-Benz W31. Only 57 of the black and gray convertibles were constructed, and just three remained after the war — one belonged to the Spanish monarchy, another became a fire engine, and the last ended up in Hollywood. 

9. Klink was actually a trained violinist.


A recurring gag on the show was that Klink was a terrible violinist. In real life, Klemperer was quite accomplished on the instrument and the piano, as his father, Otto Klemperer, was one of the key conductors in 20th-century German classical music. 

10. The set was blown up during the making of 'Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS.'


What an ignominious fate. Hogan's Heroes was filmed on Desilu Productions' RKO Forty Acres backlot. In the making of the trashy 1974 exploitation film Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS, the set was destroyed for the final scene. Hogan's producers were okay with it, as it saved the cost of having the set demolished. 

11. In 1968, many of the principle cast members made a movie together, 'The Wicked Dreams of Paula Schultz.'


Crane, Klemperer, Banner and Askin teamed up for this big-screen rom-com about an East Germany pole vaulter. In his Kill Bill: Volume 2, Quentin Tarantino (undoubtedly a fan of Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS) has Uma Thurman buried alive in a grave marked Paula Schultz. 

12. The show was first aired in Germany in 1992 — and was called 'Barbed Wire and Heels.'


Yes, though it took a quarter century, the show did eventually air auf Deutsch. To make the show go over better, the dialogue was rewritten to make the Nazi characters even more inane. Klink was given an offscreen love interest, Kalinke, who is heard but never seen. The original German title Stacheldraht und Fersengeld (Barbed Wire and Heels) was eventually changed to Ein Käfig voller Helden (A Cage Full of Heroes).

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MichaelPowers 16 months ago
The Stalag 13 P.O.W. camp exterior set, with some redressing, would turn up on the March 10, 1968 episode of Mission: Impossible episode "Trial by Fury."
Hi loved the series. Does anyone know what happened to the prop Klink masterpieces paintings that were used in the series episode "Klinks's Masterpiece" were they really painted by the actor, were they kept by the actor, Crane or the producers and if they are on the market or in any museum collections? Lastly any history on Col. Klink's office desk that he always kept his trademark helmet and cigar box on? I would love to aquire the "desk"!

jab688 30 months ago
Was the tree stump tunnel exit part of a raised set where they went in and below? I heard it was on the ground and an actual short tunnel / room was below. Does anyone know?
jbrocko1 jab688 16 months ago
It was built up so they could use ladder. Same with bed to tunnel
jab688 jbrocko1 16 months ago
Thanks I figured it must be inside set.
Verniculous 35 months ago
Geez Jakeaaaa. .
Get some help please. Perhaps a 12 step program that deals with addictions please Don't direct people to your porn sites

That's said. I love this show so much I still watch it often. I've got every show, including that great appearance of Werner Klemperer on the Pat Sajak show

Blessings to all
DonnallanBenson 35 months ago
Jakeaaaaa's comment has nothing to do with Hogan's Heros. This is no place for trolling.
JeffSixteen 37 months ago
I love this show! I'd like to binge it, but I can't find it on any streaming services. :-(
ladysabbath JeffSixteen 30 months ago
I found a site to watch some for free, I love this site
It only goes to season 6 ep 17 though
ColHogan60 JeffSixteen 28 months ago
Here is a link for all 6 seasons. If you click or tap on the titles it should work. They worked as of Jan 2022.

If you click or tap on the Yellow titles. For example, you click on the season, then all the episodes come up. Then you click on the yellow text that says something like Season 1 Episode 3 or something similar. It's at the top of each episode
MaryAnnArlotta 39 months ago
Robert Crane is a drummer, isn't he doing the drum solo in the beginning.
MicahCarey MaryAnnArlotta 37 months ago
He WAS a drummer Mary. He's not a drummer presently because he's dead. He WAS...past tense!
JessBee MicahCarey 28 months ago
But was he the one playing the drums during the show's intro?
MaryAnnArlotta 39 months ago
Robert Crane is a drummer, isn't he doing the drum solo in the beginning?
MichaelPowers 39 months ago
Bob Crane wore the same military jacket that was originally worn by Frank Sinatra in the WW II feature film "Von Ryan's Express."

HH was a Bing Crosby Production.

Stalag 13 was utilized for an episode of "Mission:Impossible" when the IMF (Impossible Missions Force) went undercover into a Latin American prison camp.
RedSamRackham 50 months ago
* Despite the silliness of the show it was very well liked by Jewish American immigrant holocaust survivors because of how it made the Nazis look stupid. ☺
Fleiter 50 months ago
Never celebrate the horrible lyrics put on 1960's TV show theme songs. They were a dirty play by producers to grab half the royalties from the people who wrote the themes. Roddenberry did this to Alexander Courage on Star Trek.
GrammarConsulting 50 months ago
A "very interesting"
page here, but for item 11 the word should be "principal" and not "principle."
ThomasHemenway 57 months ago
But Stalag 17 was the PILOT for Hogan’s Hero’s, the idea of it being shot in a prison in the United States was BEFORE stalag 17 was shown. Hogan’s hero’s was born out of that movie!
MicahCarey ThomasHemenway 37 months ago
No. It wasn't "the pilot." It was a feature film over a decade earlier that served as an influence. That's not what a "pilot" is!
Sparkyszone 66 months ago
Regarding the first fact. I find this hard to believe. First, I am a big Hogan's Heroes fan, and love the show. But, like many other fans , I see that there are way to many simularities between the movie "Stalag 17" and the television show, Hogan's Heroes, for it not to have been largely plagiarized from the movie. Many of the simularities can are discussed in the article (and you can watch the Movie, Stalag 17 yourself and decide)at https://www.einkafigvollerhelden.de/english/watch-stalag-17/
While I agree with you about the similarities of the movie and the show, Those are only a few. Location was the same, and the catch phase "no one ever escapes from.. " are identical, after that there are very few. The movie was a serious look at prison life of the US soldiers during WW2, while the TV main idea was to make the Germans looks as stupid as possible, and still conduct a war. So much so as to include a Russian woman as a spy. It would be the same as looking at pizza from NYC, and Chicago deep dish. Both are round.
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