One actress played two different characters named Lily Frankel on Hogan's Heroes
Was there meant to be a connection between these two underground agents who helped Col. Hogan?
In the Hogan's Heroes episode "Six Lessons from Madame La Grange," Marlyn Mason plays a famous nightclub singer named Lily Frankel who is secretly part of the underground, determined to bring down the Germans. Hogan catches her act but is more interested in the message she has to deliver: That a double agent is about to give up the names of anyone associated with the underground!
Naturally, Hogan and company hatch an elaborate plan involving Ms. Frankel, the nightclub, and LeBeau giving Major Hochstetter dancing lessons. It could never work between them, but that doesn't stop Hogan and Lily from flirting for nearly the entire episode. That is to say, she certainly seems like someone he wouldn't forget in a hurry.
But that's exactly what happened the very next season. Or, there was another character who just happened to have the same name and face. Lily Frankel, again played by Marlyn Mason, appears in the last episode of the series, "Rockets or Romance." She is an agent working with the underground who meets Hogan to help locate a mobile rocket launcher about to target London. Hogan knows the contact only as "Frankel" and is surprised to find out she is a woman. She introduces herself as Lily Frankel, which would seem to indicate she's the same person Hogan worked with the previous season. But neither character mentions anything about a previous relationship. Lily even tells Hogan, "You do not even know me," after he says he would risk his life for her.
This is either a differenct character from "Six Lessons from Madame La Grange" or a continuity blunder. But it would be an incredible coincidence even if two underground agents played by different actresses were each named Lily Frankel. The fact that Marlyn Mason appeared both times either means there is some connection or that continuity in those days really was at the bottom of the list of priorities. In a way, it could be both.
Using the same name and actress would show a connection for fans who had seen the previous episode. But because each installment had to stand on its own, neither Hogan or Lily could mention they already knew each other. Of course, it very well could be that no one involved remembered or cared enough to change the name of the character for Marlyn Mason's second appearance.
After all, actors played multiple roles on many classic shows, sometimes two in the same season. But the fact that it's a character in a similar position with the same name, played by the same actress, seems to point to more than coincidence. It might have been a way to signal to repeat viewers that this character was back while not alienating first-time watchers.
Hogan’s Heroes wasn't the only hit show finale to feature Marlyn Mason. She played Erna Landry in the last Perry Mason episode, "The Case of the Final Fade-Out." One actress, two finales! Pretty neat.
She also played Sgt. Carter's sister on Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C along with many other roles in everything from My Three Sons to Bonanza to Barnaby Jones.
Did you ever notice the two different versions of Lily Frankel? Let us know your thoughts on the character, or characters, in a comment!