*This is not an exact transcript, but rather an outline of my notes (including notes from Bob Crane biographers, Carol Ford & Linda Groundwater).
Hi everybody I’m Didi West, and welcome back to Broken Limelight. I know it’s been a while. You might’ve heard if you follow me on facebook that my life kind of took some sharp turns, but I’m back and I have been working on this case for months.
Today’s episode is about actor and radio star, Bob Crane. Bob Crane came to fame in the mid-60s when he landed the lead role in a sitcom called “Hogan’s Heroes”, which was a comedy about a Prisoner of War camp during WWII. I know, that sounds shocking if you’re not familiar but it was actually crazy successful. Bob was known as charming, talented, kind, etc., and people started to see Bob Crane and his character, Robert Hogan, as one in the same. On June 29th, 1978, Bob was found murdered in his apartment. He appeared to be bludgeoned and strangled while sleeping, but there was no sign of forced entry into his apartment. He was bludgeoned to death– the cord was tied around his neck after he was already dead
Today the case remains unsolved. There are suspicions and theories about who the murderer might be. Sadly, a lot of gossip and rumors about Bob spread like wildfire upon his death, and the media chose to tell a story about Bob that didn’t show the full picture. See, when investigators arrived at the crime scene, they discovered that Bob had a collection of photography and filming equipment, as well as polaroids and videos showing him having sex with dozens upon dozens of women. After this got out, all anyone could talk about was Bob’s scandalous sex life. Many theorized that Bob’s dark secret had to have been connected to his murder.
If you’ve seen the 2002 film Auto Focus, I need you to know that that is not an accurate portrayal of Bob Crane. The filmmaker himself has admitted that he was not interested in creating an accurate portrayal of Bob Crane, so much as he was trying to sell a juicy story.
I also want to mention that in speaking with these biographers, I learned that the media did not want the public to hear the full story. There were people who were happy to be interviewed about Bob but were never given a voice because their stories about Bob were not as scandalous as the stories they wanted to tell. So what you think you might know about Bob Crane likely doesn’t even scratch the surface.
My main source for this episode is the book Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography, by Carol Ford, Linda Groundwater, and Dee Young. I actually spoke to biographers, Carol Ford and Linda Groundwater, who are endorsed and supported by Scott Crane and The Bob Crane Estate, and got a lot of insight into Bob’s story. They were kind enough to allow me to interview them for this episode. We’ll get to that interview shortly. I do want to say that I highly, highly recommend this book. The authors interviewed over 200 people who were close to Bob, including his friends, his children, his co-stars, and even people from his childhood. Bob’s youngest son, Robert Scott (who they refer to as Scotty) has said that this book is the only true and accurate portrayal of his father’s life. In fact, you can see that comment on the Broken Limelight facebook page from Robert Scott Crane where I posted that I interviewed them. He says “The Estate of Bob Crane and I both worked closely with Carol and Linda and immeasurably appreciate all of the hard work and dedication they put into this book. The only truthful and accurate account of my dad’s life.”
Bob Crane was born Robert Edward Crane on July 13th, 1928 in Waterbury Connecticut. His parents were Rose Mary and Alfred Thomas Crane, who married in 1925. Bob had an older brother named Alfred Jr. They grew up in a traditional Roman Catholic household. Rose Mary, the mother, was known to be kind, while the father, Alfred, was known to be strict but loving and proud of his sons.
Bob spent his childhood and teenage years in Stamford, though the family moved around a lot from 1930-1942. He started drumming at age 11 after his father Al bought him his first snare drum for Christmas in 1938. Al picked out a $23 snare drum and asked the owner, Vito Schigliampaglia, to hold onto it until Christmas. When Al returned, Vito had already sold it to someone else. Al said to Vito, “I promised my boy a drum for Christmas, and by the holy saints of Ireland, he’s going to have one!” He then grabbed another drum that was worth $75 and walked out with it. Vito felt bad about his mistake and looked the other way.
Years later when Bob became famous, Vito hung a picture of him from HH in the store and wrote “I, Vito Schigliampaglia, am responsible for the show business career of Bob Crane, star of TV, radio, and movies.” *What a leap– forget Bob’s hard work and talent, let’s give thanks to Vito for being a shitty salesman.
Bob’s drumming increased after he saw American jazz drummer Gene Krupa performing at the 1939 World’s fair. From then on, he was never seen without his drumsticks. It’s said that at this point, “music and drums were as much a part of him as breathing.” By junior high, Bob was organizing local drum and bugle parades with his neighborhood friends. He played snare drum and timpani in his highschool orchestra, and snare drum in the school marching band. He played for the Connecticut Symphony Orchestra and the Norwalk Symphony Orchestra. His parents thought this was a pipe dream. They wouldn’t let him use the family car to get to gigs so he had to rely on rides from friends. His friend, Edwin, recalls the home feeling “rigid” and disliked going inside. And Bob couldn’t wait to get away. Edwin has said that he believes Bob has a side of him that he was keeping locked up, festering inside of him for a long time.
Bob graduated from high school on June 5th, 1946. In 1948, Bob proposed to Anne just a couple weeks before her high school graduation. Around this time, Bob became interested in volunteering for the military. He was terrified of being drafted so he joined the National Guard. In his two years serving, he rose from the rank of Private up to Corporal. We never found anything that indicated he was “terrified” of it, I’m not sure that’s accurate
According to Bob’s friends, he was very focused on his career before he met Anne, at which point he shifted his attention to her and their relationship, often choosing to be alone with her instead of working in music. Not true. As a matter of fact, Bob was create radio shows and play them for his best friend and Anne, and no one ever saw him at school without him drumsticks, he was in banks and the Crane-Catino Jazz Band. As a matter of fact, Anne joined the HS band to be with Bob, playing the glockenspiel!
In May of 1949, Bob and Anne got married in a Roman Catholic church in Stamford. They befriended another couple who had just gotten married in the same church just an hour earlier. Coincidentally, this other couple had plans to take their honeymoon in the Poconos mountains in Pennsylvania, and the Cranes happened to be taking their honeymoon at the same place and staying in the same hotel. The two couples spent their honeymoons together.
Around this time, Bob took a course in radio techniques and began applying for jobs at various radio stations. In 1950, he was hired at a newer station, WLEA. He left the National Guard with an honorable discharge and went on to focus on a career in radio.
Bob and Anne didn’t have a lot of money, so Anne lived with her parents while Bob traveled for work. Anne got a job as a secretary to help support her parents. Bob and Anne had a seemingly happy marriage. He spoke very highly of his wife and was said to never lose his temper. Like one time, Bob came home with mud on his shoes and stepped all over their white carpet. Anne’s mom berated him, which made Anne really embarrassed and she said “Mom, that’s BOB’s carpet, he bought everything in this house.” and he’d just stand there and take the abuse, saying “No, no, Annie. I was wrong. I’m sorry.” He was kind and patient and was rarely seen angry. He also didn’t drink or smoke and often asked bartenders to make him mocktails so nobody would question why he wasn’t drinking. His vices were sweets like candy and cookies. Though he seemingly spoke very highly of his relationship with Ann, Bob was, actually, frustrated and seemingly discontented. While many believe that Bob’s extramarital affairs began when he got to Hollywood, they actually started early on in his marriage with Anne.
Bob and Anne didn't have a lot of money, so Anne stayed home with her parents while Bob traveled for work. Anne got a job as a secretary to help support parents. Early in their marriage, Anne’s family was dealing with a crisis and so she and her mother went to visit family in Sweden while Bob stayed in Stamford working at a jewelry store. He was restless and continued sending letters to radio stations up and down the East coast. When he was offered a position at WLEA, he packed his bags and moved to Hornell, NY, to focus on his radio career. When he got there he was shocked to find out that he wasn’t offered the job of announcer, but of a maintenance man. Still, he took the job. It wasn’t long before he would become the announcer anyway. Within a month of being hired, he was promoted to program director.
By now, the couple was struggling and considering divorce. Now in a new city and reeling from his home troubles, Bob began dating another woman. Sources say they were together for a few months and were intimate, even talking of the possibility of marriage. Bob and Anne continued working through their divorce when suddenly Bob had a change of heart and decided to move back to Connecticut and mend his marriage to Anne. It wasn’t just Bob here. Both Bob and Anne were talking about this, and then decided they didn’t want to. He didn’t just decide he wanted a divorce and then changed his mind.
Shortly after in August 1950, Anne’s father passed away unexpectedly from surgery complications at just 49 years old. Anne and Bob were devastated about this loss and struggled to support each other financially. She and Bob debated about Bob quitting his job and moving home. Before he could make the move, he was offered another job at WBIS in Bristol, Connecticut and he took it. When he got there, he wasn't what they were expecting. It turns out when they heard his audition tape, they had accidentally turned down the speed which made his voice sound a lot deeper than it actually was. Bob said “when he heard me speak, he was pretty disappointed. But he liked my sense of humor so he kept me on.” Before long, he was promoted to program director and senior announcer. Bob lived in a boarding house in Bristol and returned home to Stamford on weekends. He made $45 a week and would supplement his income by playing drums in clubs. Money was super tight. Bob had no refrigerator so he would keep his milk on the windowsill outside.
After only 3 months, Bob was offered yet another job as an announcer for the station WLIZ, whose only stipulation was that Bob not be a drinker (which he was not), because they had problems with announcers coming to work hungover. This job was closer to home and paid $10 more. Here he would become the program director and stations operations manager. The company then bought the station WICC where Bob would continue his work. In 1952 Bob was promoted to program manager for WICC and by ‘53 he was operations director.
Bob was known to introduce gimmicks to his radio shows. For example, he’d do voices and have conversations with himself, and he would also respond to other recordings as a character. He had fun with sound effects, like when doing an ad for milk, he poured water into a salt shaker and then shook the water into a glass to make it sound like he was making a cow, while joking about how fresh the milk was. He would also play the drums on air. He was creative and called a lot of attention to the radio station. For Valentine’s day, he asked the female listeners to send in kisses to the radio station. For months, the station received letters and cards covered in lipstick marks, to the point that the health department served WICC with a notice to stop the promotion, as they thought it would be unhealthy for postal workers to handle all this kissy mail.
He also had a gimmick where a chicken would rate new records. Using sound effects, he would have this “chicken” drop eggs into a basket, and the more eggs it laid, the worse the record was. Bob pushed the envelope and took chances, making his radio show a bit hit.
Before long, Bob had become a star. He was now making $500/week (equivalent to $4.4k in 2015). Bob and Anne were now able to get their very first home of their own, a duplex apartment, and relocated to Bridgeport, Connecticut. In 1951, Bob and Anne welcomed their first child, a son they named Robert David Crane, aka Bobby Jr they never ever called him this. There is no Bob Crane junior, it’s just something Bobby decided he wanted to call himself after Bob died.. They also invited Anne’s mother to move in with them and she cooked, cleaned, and lovingly doted on her grandson.
While at WICC, Bob continued sending out letters and tapes to try to break into an even bigger market. He was offered the opportunity for his own radio show in Los Angeles, CA. Bob moved his family to the west coast and on September 3rd, 1956 The Bob Crane Show made its debut. This was a dramatic change for Bob and Anne, and their son Bobby Jr. (now 5). Bob wanted to go to NY, so it was a challenge to get him to go to LA.
Bob came to be known as “King of LA airwaves”. His show became so popular that KNX asked him to add live celebrity interviews. He interviewed thousands of celebrities on the air, like Jayne Mansfield, Marilyn Monroe, Natalie Wood, and Dick Van Dyke. Celebrities enjoyed being interviewed and even roasted on Bob’s show.
In June 1959, Bob and Anne welcomed their second child, a daughter named Deborah Ann.
A year later, they had another daughter, Karen Leslie. Bob and Anne doted on their children. Neighbors recall Bob taking his kids trick or treating or to Little League practice. Neighbors of the family say that Anne often took charge while Bob was working, but Bob was indeed a family man and neighbors were proud of Bob and his family.
When they found out they were pregnant with their second child, they celebrated by going to the movies. They saw the film Tunnel of Love and Anne remarked that the character Dick Pepper reminded her of Bob. In retrospect, this is funny because the Dick Pepper character is a fun loving guy who engages in extramarital affairs and even justifies being a womanizer and believes straying should be acceptable. After the movie, Anne said to Bob “you know, I just spent 90 minutes watching you!” A lightbulb went off in Bob’s head and this is when he first got the idea to try his hand at acting.
Bob had never acted before or even studied acting, but he was determined and a quick learner. He decided to read and study and learn everything he could so he could know everything about the entertainment industry and be one step ahead of everyone else.
Bob finally got the guts to go into a theater where a stage production of Tunnel of Love was playing and inquired about auditioning for a role There he met a director and acting instructor named Don Freed who turned out to be a huge fan of Bob’s radio work.
Bob got the part and he advertised the play heavily on the radio. Critics were super positive which motivated Bob, but KNX was not excited to lose him to Hollywood. His contract actually included a clause preventing him from acting professionally for 5 years.
Bob’s schedule was hectic. He worked hard in his play, on his radio show, and at raising his small kids at home. Bob was offered gigs doing voiceover work and got bit parts on shows like The Twilight Zone. In 1961, Bob renegotiated his contract allowing him to pursue an acting career.
In 1962, Bob made a guest performance on the Dick Van Dyke show. Less than 2 weeks later, Bob was invited to be a guest star on the Donna Reed Show. Donna Reed personally called him. He originally played the character Dave Blevins, but he was so well liked by the cast and the audience that he was asked to return as a recurring character, Donna’s neighbor, Dr. Dave Kelsey. Bob signed a 2 year contract but grew bored and asked to leave the show by the 2nd season. He continued pursuing work in community theater productions and small film roles.
But once Bob left the Donna Reed Show, his income was sliced in half. He was eager to take on another acting role, but he didn’t want to be typecast as just the guy across from the main girl. Bob was picky about his roles which was frustrating for producers. Then he was told about a role playing an “all-American” type for a show called “Hogan’s Heroes”.
HH was about Colonel Hogan, a U.S. Army Air Force colonel who was imprisoned in a Nazi prisoner-of-war (POW) camp.
Instantly, Bob was turned off of the idea, thinking there’s no way anyone’s going to think this is funny. There’s actually one part of the film Auto Focus that really made me cackle. Bob’s character is sitting with his agent as the agent tells him about this role. And when he mentions it’s about a WWII POW camp, Bob says “so it’s a drama?” and the agent says “no, it’s a comedy.” and then Bob says “oh, with the funny Nazis.”
According to Bob’s cousin, Jim Senich, Bob didn’t want to do the show at first. He was sensitive to the hardships that soldiers had endured and the stressful issues they were facing. He didn’t want to insult them. He also felt the show was poking fun at POWs, many of which had truly suffered during imprisonment. Bob agreed to do the show only after a trailer was shown to veteran groups, and they all agreed it was fabulous. They loved the trailer, and Bob was sold. Fans would later say that Bob Crane was made to play the role of Robert E. Hogan. Bob would also play the drum beats in the opening credits of the show. This “trailer” actually turned out to be the pilot episode!
Bob let go of his radio show part way through the first season, when it became apparent that he couldn’t physically stay healthy and handle the two full time jobs and Hogan’s Heroes made its primetime debut on September 17th 1965. Fans began to see Bob Crane the actor and Colonel Hogan as one in the same person. To Bob, this meant he must not be doing a very good job as an actor and would later struggle to escape this stereotype. Bob didn’t really question that he was doing well, he was just realising that he was being stereotyped
Hogan’s Heroes ran for 6 years from 1965-1971. Everyone involved said it was a dream of a show to work on with little drama behind the scenes. However, some would speculate this isn’t true. Bob Crane and actor Richard Dawson had some kind of falling out. Richard Dawson was Bob’s best man in his second wedding, however, he did not attend Bob’s funeral. Dawson did not appear at his funeral, nor any of the others’, and did not join in a tribute to John Banner after his death. Bob did seem to acknowledge some professional tension, however his non-appearance at the funeral is not an indicator here.
If the name Richard Dawson is familiar to you, it’s because he was the host of Family Feud. He was the one who would kiss the female contestants. I’m sure there’s someone out there who doesn’t have a clue what I’m talking about. If you watch old episodes of Family Feud with Richard Dawson, he was the host who would greet the contestants and kiss aaaallllll of the women, on the lips. And some of these women would even lean in and kiss him before he could. (I’ll upload a click on brokenlimelight.com). It was icky on his part, I think the women were star struck and he milked it. Anyway, Richard Dawson also tested for the role of Colonel Hogan but didn’t get it because he didn’t sound remotely American, as he has a thick english accent that he couldn’t conceal enough to play the colonel. Not because his voice wasn’t american enough, those involved in the show indicate it was really never intended for Dawson at all
It was during Bob’s time on Hogan’s Heroes that we started hearing about his extramarital affairs. He dated two women who are notable: Cynthia Lynn, and Patty Olson (aka Sigrid Valdis), who both played the character of Fraulein Hilda (German secretary) in Hogan’s Heroes. I’m not sure who WE is, but Bob had been have extramarital activities for more than 10 years at this point, and the public didn’t know about it at this point either
Bob started dating Cynthia Lynn during the first season of Hogan’s Heroes. This was not his first affair, nor was it exclusive, but it was one of his most serious. At this time, Bob was still married to Anne. Cynthia was also married, though her marriage was also deteriorating. According to Cynthia, her husband, Lee, was a macho Italian man with jealousy and a gambling addiction. Bob and Cynthia admitted to each other that they were each in marriages they were unhappy in, and began telling each other that they loved one another. Soon, Cynthia felt she couldn’t keep her feelings a secret and confided in her friend, who ended up running to tell Cynthia’s husband, Lee. Lee, a jealous type, ran home with flowers and told Cynthia he wanted to patch things up. She was hesitant, but Lee was persistent. She agreed to try and work on the marriage, and then Lee demanded that she quit working on Hogan’s Heroes. She felt she had no choice if she wanted to save her marriage. Lee would not allow her to speak to Bob, even to explain herself.
Lee went directly to the producer explaining that Cynthia would not return to the show. The producer tried calling Cynthia and convincing her to stay, reminding her she had a contract, but she did what her husband asked. The producer was kind to Cynthia and told her he wouldn’t sue her for breaching her contract.
Cynthia never spoke to Bob again and 3 months later, her marriage to Lee ended for good. She was sick of his gambling and spending all her money, and filed for divorce. Cynthia regretted her decision, both to leave Bob and her career in Hogan’s Heroes. After leaving Lee, she attempted to get her job back on Hogan’s Heroes. Sadly, her role was given to someone else and a new contract signed just one day earlier. The role of Fraulein Helga became Fraulein Hilda, and now belonged to Patricia Olson, aka Sigrid Valdis. Since the producers were fond of Cynthia, they did allow her to come back playing bit parts throughout the show's run, but it was super hard to join the cast while Bob and Patty were now deep in their affair. Cynthia noted that when she came back, Bob was different. “I can’t explain how, but he was different. He didn’t seem happy. He didn’t have that spark, that sparkle that he always had. It wasn’t like the old Bob I knew.”
Patty Olson went by the stage name Sigrid Valdis. She joined the show as the new Fraulein Hilda in the beginning of season 2. Bob was very supportive of Patty and urged producers to give her more screen time. He would soon start a romantic relationship with her as well.
Patty had been married once before to a man named George Gilbert Ateyah. They had one daughter together, named Melissa. Patty and George filed for legal separation in 1964, and remained separated until George’s death in 1967. It’s completely unclear to me how he died.
Bob and Patty started dating shortly after they started filming season 2 of HH. Bob took her under his wing and in 1969, Bob got her a role in Cactus Flower where they worked together until returning to Hollywood to film HH’s 5th season. By now, Anne and Bob’s marriage was beyond repair. They would start taking vacations separately and friends started to become suspicious. Bob’s affair with Patty would be the breaking point for Anne, who requested a separation. After about a month, rumors began to circulate about Bob and Patty’s affair.In a rare interview, Anne said “Are you shocked that Bob and I are separated? Well you’re not as shocked as I am, as the children are.”
In May 1969, just short of their 20 year anniversary, Bob was actually the one to pack up his things and move out of his family’s home. Then Anne filed for divorce. Anne’s petition says “defendant Robert Edward Crane has treated the plaintiff with extreme cruelty, and has wrongfully and without reasonable excuse caused provocation or justification inflicted upon plaintiff, grievous mental suffering which has impaired her health and destroyed her happiness.”
Anne also filed a restraining order stating unplanned and unwanted visits caused severe emotional upset and trauma to her and the children.
The split was shocking to everyone, as Bob often claimed that he not only loved his wife and children, he cherished them. He told people time and time again that he didn’t understand people who “went Hollywood” and why they couldn’t just “be normal”, like he and Anne, whose idea of a good time was going home to watch a movie together. Their daughter, Karen, recalls Bob telling Anne repeatedly, “I love you, Annie. I never should’ve left you.” There’s no doubt, however, that Bob loved Patty too. She saved love letters from Bob that were passionate and filled with tenderness.
Not very long after the divorce was finalized in 1970, Bob found out that Patty was pregnant and proposed to her. Interestingly, Bob had gotten a vasectomy and was shocked to find out in 1970 that Patty was pregnant. He had gotten the procedure done in Japan, where they didn’t tie off the vas tubes, they cauterize them, leaving a risk that they reconnect, which is what apparently happened to Bob. He later took a paternity test and found out that he was indeed the father. The couple were married a week later.
The divorce left Bob with little money. However, since both Bob and Patty worked for a successful TV show and the network was more than happy to capitalize on their union, the pair got married right on a soundstage next door to the set of HH. Sadly, this meant they had little control over their special day. Patty, who was naturally a brunette, was made to wear the blonde wig she wears in HH as the character Fraulein Hilda. They also weren’t able to choose who was on their guestlist (and maybe this is how Richard Dawson ended up being his best man). More importantly, people were left off of the guestlist in order to make room for reporters.
In 1971, Bob and Patty welcomed their only child, a son named Robert Scott Crane (aka Scott). When Bob’s friend asked why he named both his sons “Robert” Bob just said “I like that name!”
According to Bob’s cousin Jim, Bob’s divorce was really upsetting to his extended family. Not only were they devout catholics, but they adored Anne and accepted her as their own family. On the other hand, nobody in the family was fond of Patty. The subject of Bob’s divorce and subsequent marriage to Patty was taboo. Bob’s father, Al, took to his grandkids and they remember him as being kind and sweet. But Bob’s mother, Rose, was cold and distant. Scott, Bob’s youngest, recalls that she was really mad at Bob for leaving Anne and marrying Patty.
Life seemed to be settling down for Bob’s first wife, Anne, who was now engaged to a realtor named Charles Sloan. Bob continued to support Anne financially until she remarried and supported the children into adulthood. In time, Anne, the kids, Charles, and Bob would all accept each other as a new, combined family and spend major holidays and family events together.
Anne took care of their 3 kids, Bobby Jr., again there’s no Bob Jr Deborah, and Karen, and Bob and Patty took care of their son Scott and Patty’s daughter Melissa. Bob and Patty also had adopted a 17 year old Mexican immigrant. This was a girl who had been hired to assist Patty with cooking chores, and childcare, and then they adopted. It sounds (to me) like they weren’t adopting a child so much as hiring a servant. It turns out that this was a common practice in Hollywood during the 70’s.
Aside from being in front of the camera, Bob was also a huge fan of photography and filming technology, especially as new technology continuously came about in the ‘70s. Bob and Patty got a big house in Hollywood, where he had kept a massive collection of video and audio equipment in the first level of their home. In 1971, Bob bought one of the first video cameras ever made and started filming everything, from everyday life at home to family vacations, to behind the scenes on the set of Hogan’s Heroes. He said he felt lost without his camera and took it everywhere. He even kept a second camera in his dressing room while filming. Bob would even show his son, Scott, how to create radio shows by letting him play with the microphone and set up turntables as young as just 4 or 5 years old.
The 70’s were a time of transition for Bob. His home life was beginning to look up and he had achieved stardom with Hogan’s Heroes. But he was also starting to worry that HH was the height of his career and there may be nowhere to go from there. He made cameos on TV shows here and there, but what he really wanted to do now was launch a film career. He worked on an educational film called Patriotism. Then he tried to get cast in The Godfather, as he knew one of the producers who had also worked on HH. Unfortunately, Bob had no dramatic acting experience and was looked over. He felt slighted not to be considered. We don’t actually know why he wasn’t considered, but HH was still in production at the time.
Bob and Patty had an understanding in their relationship. It was an open relationship, and Patty seems to have approved of his behavior, as she would give him birthday gifts like trips to strip clubs. She publicly stated that she would pardon his behavior as long as he came home to her.
Bob’s interest in photography and filming crossed over into his love of women and sex. Bob had what we would now acknowledge as a sex addiction, but at the time, that wasn’t a thing. He began to photograph and film himself having sexual relations with numerous women. Although Patty allowed him to do this, she ended up being unhappy in her marriage and serving Bob divorce papers in December 1977. Bob said in an interview “All she had to say was ‘irreconcilable differences,’ but she did a character assassination on me, and I don’t know why. She called me cold, heartless, and said I neglected the kids and a lot of other untrue things. Anyone who knows me and the kids knows better. I was shocked by those statements but not by the divorce.”
Patty was also asking Bob for money, which he just didn’t have to give her. Not only was he not making as much money as he’d hoped, but his business manager, Lloyd Vaughan, had been embezzling money from him for years. This wasn’t discovered until about a year and a half after Bob’s death. Patty was the one who figured it out and pressed charges. He pleaded no contest and was ordered to pay the Crane Estate $108,000 for the $75,000 he had stolen while working for Bob. He also spent a year in jail. Eventually he called Bob’s son, Scott, and apologized for his actions. Bob never knew his business manager was stealing his money.
Bob was always described as restless, driven, always wanting more. This applied in his professional life as well as his personal life. Bob rarely slept, requiring only a few hours of sleep in order to function at his best. He was also obsessively chronicling extraordinary details of his life. This goes back to when Bob was in school. He used to keep detailed journals and would write notes, take pictures, make videos, and create audio tapes of any and all events. He recorded and cataloged his radio shows using the Dewey Decimal-tape system, photocopied and archived fanmail, made scrapbooks and collected newspaper clippings. Bob collected everything that could serve as proof of his stature and career. And everything that didn’t. He chronicled EVERYTHING, it wasn’t about ego and career and stature here
Bob’s son, Scott, says that he was always journaling, jotting down ideas for plays or direction. He’d write on the back of records and circle his favorite songs and even jot the times of his favorite moments in the songs. He kept a detailed date book and if he didn’t actually do something in the book, he’d go back and notate why it didn’t happen. Bob also had his own darkroom in his home where he would develop his own photography.
Bob was a charming and handsome man, and especially upon reaching fame, he received a lot of female attention. Though he intentionally only wanted to look and not touch, he liked to charm women but would only go so far. At some point, one woman said “put up or shut up,” at which point Bob gave in.
Like Bob, Anne also came from a religious household. A friend of Bob’s recalled having conversations with Bob about him and Anne both wanting to be more intimate, but felt their religions didn’t allow it.
Rumors of Bob’s infidelities and lust for women began to circulate in the 50’s while Bob worked at WICC in Bridgeport. It was commonly known by fellow staff and jazz members that Bob was engaging in extramarital sex with multiple women. Some were worried this was becoming dangerous as Bob would hit on women right in front of their husbands or boyfriends. His colleagues and bandmates felt they needed to babysit him like a little boy to keep him out of trouble. It seemed that Bob didn’t see any harm in his behavior. He didn’t think he was doing anything wrong and he didn’t think anything bad would happen.
By the time Bob got to Hollywood, he had already engaged in a number of flings, a couple serious enough for him to consider leaving Anne. California was new, it was open, free, laidback and thrilling. Bob learned to become more discreet, building thick walls around him. Though there was talk of his infidelities, it still came as a shock to those around him to find out the extent of his addiction.
Bob was learning to close people off and engage in conversations without actually divulging any information about himself. He made people feel like they had a deep, lengthy discussion, when really he didn’t say anything with much depth.
At some point, Bob began to say that he didn’t like to date actresses because watching them work made them feel kind of un sexual, so he saw them as colleagues just like the other male actors. It’s possible he actively chose to start viewing women this way because he received backlash for his womanizing behavior while on the Donna Reed show.
Others who’ve worked with Crane have described him as someone very wounded. More than one has mentioned that he required a sort of feminine understanding. He needed tenderness and a lot of hugs. It seemed to many that he was desperately seeking love and acceptance.
The biographers noted that maybe Bob wasn’t just addicted to sex, but to love. He was capable of having long term relationships and he never struggled to take “no” as an answer from a woman. It seems that he only wanted the sex if they both enjoyed it.
The last time many of Bob’s longtime friends saw him was at their school reunion. Bob was described as being happy to everyone outwardly, but there was a nervous energy like something was bothering him. More and more his happiness felt artificial.
Initially, Bob was in control of his sex life and kept it separate from his professional life. But eventually, he would lose that control. On the set of the Bob Crane Show, he makes jokes that we’re kind of racey. He’d bring Patty and she’d stand at a profile, emphasizing the size of her breasts, and he would make jokes about it.
When Bob did the Disney film Superdad, he announced in a meeting with a Hollywood reporter that he likes to play drums in topless/bottomless bars, and “what’s wrong with that?” The reporter published the story and Disney broke ties with him. This was the first glimpse the public would get at Bob’s proclivities, however, most would glaze over this until later on when he died.
Bob began doing a dinner theater production called Beginner’s Luck at the Windmill Dinner Theater, which toured to multiple locations around the country. Although dinner theater was a step down in Bob’s career and he acknowledged that, he took this work seriously. He was also able to more freely feed his addiction, which was completely in control by now. While some of his friends in theater saw this side of Bob to the point of them becoming uncomfortable, others never saw it. He truly had two sides, two personalities.
Bob befriended an actress named Victoria Ann Berry at a topless bar and would invite her to play a role in Beginner’s Luck. She got great reviews and Bob was proud of her. But there was one thing she didn’t love about him. Early on in their tour, Bob asked Victoria if he could film her in a provocative setting. She says that she allowed him to film her once, but she became uncomfortable and let him know it. Bob instantly stopped. Like a light switch, he turned off any desire to film her and never asked again. She said after that, he became very much like a father figure to her instead, and took care of her. She called him a “gift to the industry.”
Bob began working on a show called the Hawaii Experience. The show’s director, John Orland, found Bob to be professional, kind, and all the wonderful traits we’ve heard about Bob. But John recalls an experience while filming that was an indication that Bob was beginning to fail at keeping his addiction separate from his work. He was filming a promotional video on a sidewalk in Honolulu when a woman walked by on the sidewalk. In the middle of his interview on-camera, Bob suddenly just turned around and ran after this girl. He literally just left and started chasing her down the street. He just took off in the middle of filming and they had to go after him and bring him back.
In early 1978, Bob taped an episode on the Canadian cooking show Celebrity Cooks. After Bob died and his secrets came out, the decision was made not to air that episode in the United States. A CBS spokesperson claimed that Bob had been acting sleazy in the episode, stumbling through it, making jokes about sex, and talking about death. It turns out that none of this is true, however. And in fact, the episode still aired in Canada so you can probably find it and watch it for yourself. In Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography, they interviewed 3 people who were directly connected with the Celebrity Cooks show. These were Derek Smith, the owner and producer; Anne Kear, a talent agent; and Roger Packer, the stage manager. By all 3 accounts, Bob was one of the best guests to ever appear on their show. They were appalled that one spokesperson’s version of events had been accepted as the truth.
In fact, on June 27th, 1978, just 2 days prior to his death, Bob Crane sat down for an interview with a reporter. This would be his last interview ever, of course, neither Bob nor the reporter would know what was going to happen in the next 48 hours. Bob talked about his stalled movie career but was optimistic about the future. He spoke openly about his split with Patty, but he was otherwise in good spirits and had a positive outlook and his sunny personality came shining through. He laughed his way through much of the conversation and mentioned that if he should ever write his own autobiography, he would title it Laughing All the Way to the Grave.
While working on Beginner’s Luck, Bob met Reverend Ed Beck, an employee of the Windmill Dinner Theater Corporation who also happened to be an addiction counselor. Beck would be the one person to whom Bob would share his deepest, innermost thoughts, beliefs, and troubles in the weeks leading up to his murder. He declared to Beck that he was an addict, and he actually used the word “addict”. He was keenly aware that he was losing control of his situation and his life was beginning to fall apart because of it. His first marriage was falling apart and he was in the process of his second divorce; although it seems he and Patty were working on patching things up, their marriage was in serious jeopardy. His children were suffering. They were beginning to ask questions that he couldn’t honestly answer in good conscience. He was building a reputation in his career and Hollywood executives were losing respect for him.
Bob admitted to Beck that he had tried to break his addiction in the past several times but had always failed. He knew this was going to be a long, painful road, but he was ready to heal. He knew this would be a lifelong struggle and he’d always be just one woman away from relapsing, but he was determined to overcome it.
He didn’t know his life was coming to an end. He had every intention of getting through his addiction, becoming a better father, repairing his reputation, and continuing to make strides in his acting career.
Bob’s counseling with Beck was supposed to be completely private. He would’ve never disclosed any of it, but did so after Bob’s murder to try to give the media and public a better understanding of Bob’s inner turmoil.
It seemed to Beck that Bob was very aware of his problem and determined to gain control of it. Beck thinks that what really pushed Bob to make this choice were his children. His relationship with them was beginning to deteriorate when they became old enough to hear the rumors and start questioning him about them, and it was important to him to be a good father. He needed to be a good father.
Beck was not specialized in sex addiction, so he was trying to evaluate Bob just to be able to diagnose him and refer him to another counselor who was. He was in the process of connecting with psychiatrists to find the right one for Bob.
In talking to Bob, Beck found that Bob didn’t see himself as sick or dirty. It seems that it was important to him to provide women with pleasure. He wasn’t just trying to pleasure himself, he legitimately seemed to want to make women feel good. According to Beck, Bob always had consent to photograph or film the women he was having sexual relations with. Bob’s family has reiterated this. There have been a couple of women who have come forward to say that they had no idea they were being filmed. Bob’s family insists that his cameras were always out in the open, never hidden. Beck says that upon Bob’s death and his stash of amateur porn being revealed, multiple women (including important women) contacted him asking what would happen to those tapes. It seems that in all of these sexual encounters, most (if not all) of these women were not worried about these tapes being seen by anyone but Bob. This was brand new technology so there was no concept of nudes being leaked or revenge porn, or anything like that. But after Bob’s death, the media turned Bob’s porn collection into a huge scandal, and I think that’s the moment when the women in the tapes saw what could be at risk by having their photos revealed.
Giving up his addiction meant more than just changing his future. Bob was pretty much living a double life, so he also had to separate himself from that part of him. He needed to destroy all of his work, his hundreds of films and photographs and a roomful of files. He also had to separate himself from some shady people he had gotten involved with. This includes his friend, John Henry Carpenter, who would become the number one suspect in Bob’s murder. Beck says “Bob’s problem was that he created an appetite from certain people in that dark world, who saw him as the chef, so to speak.” He theorizes that on the night Bob was murdered, he had tried to cut ties with John Carpenter.
John Carpenter was a video equipment salesman for Sony when he met Bob on the set of Hogan’s Heroes. In fact, Richard Dawson was the one to introduce them. Carpenter was savvy with cameras and audio and video equipment, so he would often be hired by famous clients to help with installation and repairs and stuff. As Bob was also interested in this kind of technology, the two struck up a friendship. They would go out to bars together to pick up women. Women would throw themselves at Bob and Carpenter would tag along and get women to sleep with him, pretty much just because he was with Bob. Carpenter probably wouldn’t have been getting laid night after night if he didn’t have Bob by his side. When Bob was on tour for Beginner’s Luck, John would travel to meet up with him so they could score women together as well as photograph and videotape the encounters. The men would sometimes participate in group sex. Although investigators don’t believe that Bob was homosexual, they did theorize that perhaps John was bisexual and had romantic feelings for Bob, then murdering him when Bob tried to sever their friendship.
John actually called Bob “the goose that laid him golden eggs”. Bob provided him with a luxurious lifestyle with unlimited sex. He was like “why would I kill him?”
Multiple people believe that Bob had decided to make a change in his life and was trying to sever his friendship with John. His son, Bobby Jr (there is no Bobby Junior)., said that Bob called him just a couple of days before his death and told him that he’s 2 weeks shy of his 50th birthday and was ready to make changes in his life. Bob’s daily planner, where he meticulously documented all of his plans, had no mention of John Carpenter after the date of June 29th.
NIGHT BEFORE DEATH, JUNE 28TH, 1978:
On the evening of June 28th, 1978, Bob and the cast of Beginner’s Luck had a normal show. John Carpenter was in the audience. Victoria would sit with him during her off-scenes. John was not seen leaving the theater at any point, but after the show, he and Bob would find that Bob had a flat tire. I mention this because some believe that his tire had been disabled during the play. The cast took their final bow for the run of their show and Bob said goodbye to Victoria, telling her not to forget their appointment the next day. He had offered to help her make a recording to send out for jobs, so they were planning on meeting the following day. Bob waved goodbye to Victoria for the last time as he and John headed to the car. When they got to the car, they noticed the tire was flat. It turns out that the valve cord had been cut, so someone had deliberately tried to disable his car. It's theorized that this may have been a first attempt to murder Bob, as the killer may have planned to strike Bob as he kneeled down to change his tire. Instead of changing it there, Bob decided to drive across the street to a service station and put on a spare.
The pair hit up bars and hotspots like The Safari, where witnesses say they saw them having dinner and talking. Some witnesses say the men were raising their voices and appeared to be arguing, while others say they were speaking normally. They met up with 2 women and had an uneventful night. At about 2AM, John took his date back to his hotel. He put the moves on her but she asked to go home. He took her home at about 3AM. Then he went back to his hotel and called Bob and asked him how his night went. Bob told him that he also struck out, so now he was just sitting in his boxer shorts editing the bad words out of Saturday Night Fever so 6 year old Scott could watch it. According to John, before hanging up, he told Bob that he no longer needed a ride to the airport and he would take a taxi or shuttle instead.
In the early morning hours of June 29th, 1978, Bob would be sleeping soundly in his apartment in Scottsdale, AZ. He was lying on his side with his hands tucked under his head and pillow when someone struck him in the head twice with a camera tripod, crushing his skull. Bob was killed instantly, and the murderer then cut the electrical cord off of a video camera and tied it around his neck like a bowtie. A flakey, white substance was found on his leg. There was writing on the walls written in Bob’s blood and the messages seemed ritualistic in nature. The killer at one point peeked outside the window, leaving a bloody handprint on the curtain. There was no sign of forced entry, and Bob was known to keep his doors locked. The back sliding glass door was also unlocked. This led investigators to believe that Bob either invited someone into his apartment, or left the doors unlocked for someone, or someone had a key. His time of death was estimated to have been around 4AM.
The next morning, John Carpenter returned his rental car and headed for the airport. Bob was supposed to give him a ride, but according to John, when they had talked on the phone the night before, he told Bob he didn’t need a ride anymore.
Victoria Berry had an appointment to record with Bob that day and he didn’t show up. Again, Bob was super punctual so this was unusual. She called him but got no answer, so she showed up at his apartment. She knocked on the door a few times, but no one answered. She noticed that the newspaper was still outside and the drapes were closed dark. This was also unusual. Finally she tried the doorknob, which was unlocked. When she went inside it was dark, and she started calling out Bob’s name.
As she enters, she finds his brutally beaten body in bed. Blood spatter on the wall behind the bed, on the ceiling, all over the pillow, also found on the door, doorknob, and curtain.
Bob supposedly last seen on
JUNE 29, 1978
1AM: supposedly last seen, according to investigators.
Time of death estimated 4am
2:10 pm body was found when Bob's girlfriend and co-star of Beginner’s Luck, she was not his girlfriend Victoria Berry Wells knocked on the door at 132A. He missed lunch and also Victoria’s voiceover appt. He offered to help her record a tape that he would pass on to producers of a show he was filming in Hawaii in hopes they’d give her a part.
The apartment it was actually a condo was being leased by the Windmill Theater, so they contacted the manager to identify the body. This happened to be Reverend Beck. But when Beck looked at Bob, he was laying on his side and his skull was smashed in, blood everywhere. He wasn’t able to identify the body so investigators made the choice to roll the body over so Beck could get a better look at him.
The Scottsdale Police department was small in 1978 and didn’t have a homicide unit. There weren’t enough murders to merit one. They made a handful of choices that if you’re a true crime buff like me, you know that these kinds of choices are likely to contaminate the crime scene and invalidate evidence.
A medical examiner named Dr. Heinz Karnitschnig (we’ll call him Dr. K) arrived at the crime scene at about 4PM and filmed a video of the crime scene. On the video, you can see Dr. K using a straight razor to shave a portion of Bob’s head so he can get a good look at the wound. He believed the killer had to have been a male, based on the strength needed to make the blows. However, it was strange that the electrical cord was used to strangle him after he was bludgeoned. A possible theory is that if the suspect was a woman, maybe she strangled him after to make sure he died, just in case her blows to his head weren’t enough to kill him.
The flakey, white fluid that was found on Bob’s leg was not collected. From what I gather, DNA evidence wasn’t very advanced so they just decided not to gather or test it at all. They basically jumped to the conclusion that it was semen, and investigators actually said “what’s it gonna tell you? That he had a piece of ass before he was killed?”
Of course, they jumped to more conclusions when they found all the evidence of Bob’s secret hobby.
While investigating, police found video equipment, cameras, a makeshift photo lab, and dozens of videos of Bob having sex with numerous women. In his home, they found hundreds of polaroids of naked women and evidence of Bob having sex with different women.
The crime scene was not properly sealed and evidence was not properly handled. Evidence was collected in the same bag, possibly allowing for contamination. People were smoking cigarettes in the room with the body. Numerous people were allowed into Bob’s apartment while his body was still there. This includes Bob’s son, Bobby (27 at the time), who removed items from the scene before they were checked for prints; Bob’s business manager, Lloyd Vaughan, an attorney named Bill Golstein, and of course, Victoria Berry, who found the body. At one point, the phone rang and police allowed Victoria to answer it before checking it for fingerprints. The caller was John Carpenter. Investigators spoke to him and he told them that he was with Bob until about 1 AM that morning (but then he changed it to 2:45 AM) and then he got on a plane home at about 10AM. According to investigators, John never asked what was happening with Bob or why the police were at his apartment.
The autopsy was performed on June 30th, 1978. Here are the facts:
Time of death is estimated to be around 4AM
Cause of death listed as blunt force trauma
There was no sign of struggle– Bob seemed to be asleep during the attack.
Bob had numerous contusions–
Bob did not smoke, drink, or use recreational drugs. Vital organs (other than the brain damage) are listed as healthy and normal.
Minimal aspiration of blood of the lungs, meaning he died almost instantly.
White, flakey material was found on the right lower abdomen, right anterior thigh, and in pubic hair. Again, this material was never collected or tested.
Murder weapon was unknown until 1990
Also, nothing of financial value was taken from the crime scene, eliminating the suspicion of robbery as a motive. FYI there was apparently a small photo album of some of Bob’s female companions missing
When the pictures and videos and amateur porn were found, investigators started to wonder if they were somehow related to Bob’s death. Like perhaps Bob was murdered by an angry boyfriend or husband of one of the women he was sleeping with. There aren’t many women whose names we can confirm, so that's hard to look into. But they were looking at one person in particular: John Henry Carpenter.
Police theorized that after taking his date home, John might’ve gone to Bob’s apartment. They might’ve put on one of their films, and Bob may have felt comfortable going to bed and falling asleep.
There were witnesses, like waitresses at restaurants, who claimed that Bob and John were having tense conversations or raising their voices, or that John pouted when Bob didn’t pay attention to him. (It was found in transcripts that police fed the word “tense” to the waitress). Other witnesses said that Bob was nice to John and they didn’t notice any problems between them.
Bobby told police “There was an indication just in a passing conversation with my father, that Carpenter coming into town was getting to be just a bit of a pain in the ass. My dad expressed that he just didn’t need Carpenter kind of hanging around him anymore.
Police had theorized that John had feelings for Bob and murdered him when he tried to end their friendship. When investigators saw the white substance on Bob’s leg, they believed it meant that Bob was having sex with someone right until the moment he died. Some would also speculate that someone (like John) had killed Bob and ejaculated over him. Again, nobody ever tested this material so we don’t even know for sure that it’s bodily discharge.
Bob had jotted down an entry in his daily planner that said “John leaves at 10am” and it was crossed out. It seems that the plan was for Bob to give John a ride to the airport. He also left out a pair of swim trunks on the bed that were said to have belonged to John. I think the belief is that he was going to return them to John. John says that talked to Bob before going to bed and let him know he’d be taking a shuttle or taxi to the airport and no longer needed a ride.
Police decided to investigate the rental car that John had been driving in Scottsdale, where they found 7 bloodstains, all on the passenger side. John says no idea how they got there. The car was immediately impounded and processed. Unfortunately, DNA analysis wasn’t very thorough in 1978 (It didn’t exist until the 80s). They were able to find that it was indeed human blood and it was type B+, which is found in about 9% of people. Bob’s blood type is also B+. According to police, no one else who handled that car had blood type B+.
With the blood evidence and witnesses saying they saw Bob and John arguing, police were convinced John was the killer. Unfortunately, they didn’t have anything concrete to arrest him. At one point they got really excited when a housekeeper at the hotel John was staying in reported that she came across a bloody pillowcase and washcloth in his room, but she threw them away. Police never gave up trying to prove John was the killer.
The blood was tested 4 times over the late 80’s and early 90’s, but always came back inconclusive. In 1990, the case was reopened and police reinterviewed everyone involved, believing again that all signs pointed to John. While reviewing crime scene photos, investigators noticed a bloodstain in the sheets that was shaped like a “V”. They compared it to numerous objects and found that it matched the shape of a camera tripod. Furthermore, it was known that Bob always kept 2 tripods set up, but only one was found. 12 years after the murder, the murder weapon was determined to be a camera tripod.
Police had theorized that John beat Bob with the tripod and then tossed it in the passenger seat of his rental car. Reviewing the photos, police noticed a round, red substance on the inner panel of the passenger door. For some, they hadn’t clocked this particular stain when they originally investigated the car. Judging from the photos, pathologists determined it was likely tissue from someone’s skull. Again, this was either never collected or lost over the years, so we have no way of knowing for sure. But it was suggested that this was brain tissue (again, just from looking at photos). This was enough for police to get a warrant and arrest John again in 1992. He was charged with the first degree murder of Bob Crane.
When the case went to trial, John’s lawyers pushed the narrative that Bob’s sexual conduct with numerous women meant that any number of angry boyfriends or husbands could’ve had motive and means to murder Bob. Ultimately, there wasn’t any physical evidence tying John to the murder. John Carpenter maintained his innocence until he passed away in 1998 of a heart attack, while the murder of Bob Crane remained unsolved and the majority of the public still pointed the finger at John.
In 2016, the blood samples were tested again. Shockingly, the blood in John Carpenter’s rental car was found NOT to belong to Bob Crane.
So did John Carpenter have some other guy’s blood and brain matter in his car on the exact day his buddy was found murdered? Well that’s how police would make it sound. But from what I gather, these stains were like 1/16th in diameter.They could’ve been missed when the car was being cleaned, so maybe they were there from before John rented it.
So if John Carpenter didn’t kill Bob Crane, who did?
Bob’s oldest son, Bobby Jrsaid, “for me it was always one of two people: either John or my stepmother.”
PATTY OLSON AKA SIGRID VALDES
What do we know about Patty Olson? Before Bob, she was married to an entrepreneur twice her age named George Gilbert Ateyah. Patty filed for legal separation but never fully divorced, and they lived together with their daughter until George died of unknown causes in 1967 at 46 years old.
In 1970, just 3 years later, Patty married Bob Crane and gave birth to their son, Robert Scott. Now by 1978, Patty had filed for divorce but it wasn’t yet finalized, and according to sources close to the family, they were working on saving their marriage. Some witnesses have said they heard Bob having a heated phone conversation with Patty just a couple days before his death.
Now, why would Patty kill Bob? Especially if they were in the process of divorcing. According to Bobby Jr., “if there’s no divorce, she keeps what she gets. If there’s no husband, she gets the whole thing.” Though Bob didn’t have a lot of money at the time of his death, his estate would end up inheriting millions of dollars after NBC struck a new syndication deal for Hogan’s Heroes. Since Patty was still technically his wife, she would become the sole heir. Did she know about the syndication in advance, or was that just luck?
Patty would die in 2007 of lung cancer at the age of 72. Just before her death, she had Bob’s remains exhumed from his plot in LA and moved to a new plot in Westwood Cemetery so that when she died, they could be buried together. Then she and their son, Scott, set up a memorial website for Bob. Initially, they also used the website to sell some of Bob’s amateur porn. Scott took down the website after a few years, and he explained to Carol and Linda that by selling the films on his site was “the wrong thing for the right reasons.” He wanted people to see that the women were enjoying themselves. They were not being forced. They had not been drugged. They were very aware that they were being filmed/photographed, and in many instances, they were performing for the camera. Scott has now destroyed all of Bob’s amateur pornography. Bob’s official biographers have been pushing for Bob’s inclusion into the Radio Hall of Fame, which they began in 2012, which Scott fully supports and endorses.
I also read that Patty updated Bob’s will just 3 months before his death, so that everything would go to their son Scott, cutting off his other children. But Bob had been payling Anne alimony (until she remarried) and child support for the remainder of his life. Bob’s youngest daughter graduated from high school, so just about a week before he was murdered. By all accounts, Bob was not a deadbead Dad, and he kept up his child support throughout the 1970s. A person cannot update someone else’s will
In addition, Bob and Patty were not financially well off during the 1970s. Bob’s alimony and child support payments ate up most of his salary. They were living in Patty’s house. There had been no foreseeable windfall from Bob’s profit participation in Hogan’s Heroes. And Bob’s business manager had been embezzling from Bob, which was discovered after the murder, and his business manager served jail time for his embezzlement crime. After the murder, Patty had to sell their upscale Hollywood home and move to a lower-income neighborhood, eventually leaving California for awhile and relocating to Seattle with scotty, and he went into public school
A forensic pathologist called Dr. Michael Hunter from Autopsy says that Patty couldn’t have been the killer, as she called Bob on the phone from her home in Seattle just 4 hours before his death. Further, forensics has proven could not have been a woman based on the blood spatter on the wall (a woman of Patty’s stature would have left a different arc of blood.
(I mean, that means it couldn’t have been her. But could she have set it up?)
Victoria Berry Wells was the actress who found Bob’s body after he didn’t show up for their appointment. She and Bob had been engaging in a romantic relationship, although Victoria had a boyfriend. As Carpenter’s lawyers were attempting to shift the blame off of their client, they pointed the finger at some of Bob’s romantic partners, like Victoria Berry Wells.
Victoria was questioned at the crime scene. She told investigators that Bob was like a brother to her. It would later be revealed that the two had slept together. [This is not true. She told Linda and me that while Bob did hit on her, she turned him down. They became more of a father-daughter relationship rather than a sexual relationship.]. According to the podcast and show Autopsy, Bob had offered Victoria the leading role in a film he was preparing to do the following month. Unfortunately, Bob had met another actress named Gail Sunny Rogers and started a relationship with her, and then gave her the role he had previously offered to Victoria. This raises a theory that Bob might’ve given her the bad news shortly before his death. Some witnesses had reported seeing Victoria having a heated phone conversation with Bob just a couple of hours before he died. According to what Vicky told Linda and Carol, however, it was not a film role that she was auditioning for - it was for a TV series.Vicky’s primary reason for going to his apartment had been because he had not shown up first to record her voiceover demo, and that was very unlike him.
Also, although nothing of value was taken from the crime scene, there was one thing missing: a photo album showing Bob’s latest conquests, which he had just shown to John Carpenter on the night of his murder. I read that when Victoria was being questioned at the crime scene, she was carrying a large handbag. Yet, it was never checked by any of the officers on the scene.
To further complicate matters, Carpenter’s legal team suggested that Victoria’s boyfriend and manager, Alan Wells, had motive to murder Bob Crane. Two witnesses claimed to have seen a white Cadillac with California plates around Bob’s apartment, which happened to fit the description of Alan Wells’ car. Alan Wells was never questioned.
However, there was also an eyewitness who claimed to have seen a man leaving Crane’s apartment on the morning of his murder, and he says the man he saw was not Alan Wells. Interestingly, he also said it was not John Carpenter.
Years later, the biographers interviewed Victoria and took her back to the scene of the crime. She turned the doorknob, but wasn’t able to go in. That was as far as she got. Would say that we didn’t take her any further. She had been so traumatized, we didn’t want to add to it by bringing her back into that crime scene.
Is there anyone else who wanted Bob dead?
Investigators say they didn’t interview a single woman who disliked Bob or was mad at him about the photos or videos. Again, we don’t know any of the women who were in the films. There was one other guy I read about who supposedly had a violent argument with Bob and swore to get vengeance. As far as I can tell, this lead was never looked into.
In 2002, a film based on Bob Crane was released, called Auto Focus. This movie was inspired by a book called The Murder of Bob Crane. The biographers I spoke to are adamant that this movie and the book that inspired it are not at all an accurate representation of Bob’s life, and it seems that many of Bob’s loved ones agree. Have a look at the biographers' latest blog– there are several articles where the makers of the film, and Bob’s oldest son Bobby himself, confirm that this film is NOT the biography of Bob Crane and was in large part fictionalised.
Bob’s daughter, Karen, said "I haven't seen it. I won't see it. I don't need to see it. My dad was an absolute typical family man at home. I just have wonderful memories of my dad. And they never would have made a movie about my Dad as a nice family man."
However, Bobby says that Auto Focus captures the true essence of his father. He served as a consultant and played a small role in the film. He is actually quoted as saying that it’s just a movie, not the biography of Bob
Bob’s younger son, Scott, said “Bobby accepted $20,000 to sell out his father's life– to say this totally untrue, unflattering portrait of his father is OK, for $20,000. They offered me that deal and I said, 'No.' I said, 'I only want the truth out there.'"
The film’s director, Paul Schrader, says his movie is not supposed to be a literal retelling of Bob Crane's life. "Certainly when you create a fiction you have to manipulate reality," he says. And yet, I can’t even tell you how many people recommended that movie to me when they heard I was doing an episode about Bob Crane.
And honestly, I think there could easily be a movie made about TRUE stories about Bob’s life. I don’t think it was necessary to exaggerate and bend the truth in order to tell a compelling story. I get that people have freedom of speech and can tell whatever story they want, but it doesn’t seem fair that someone could fabricate a story and create a character, and then name that character after a real person, allowing the audience to believe that this character in Auto Focus IS Bob Crane. That sounds like defamation to me.
I cannot say enough how grateful I am that biographers Carol Ford and Linda Groundwater stayed in contact with me and helped me make sure I got true and accurate information from firsthand accounts.
After Bob’s death, many members of Bob’s family and friends vowed not to discuss him with the media, unless they could speak highly of him– the way they remembered him. Unfortunately, nobody wanted to print what they wanted to say, and so they went silent. A legacy was forced on Bob Crane that he neither wanted, nor deserved. If not for the 3 biographers who got together to create this biography, those voices may have never been heard.
And who knows the truth. If Bob weren’t murdered at 49 years old, maybe he would have beat his addiction. Maybe he could’ve told his story and helped others. Maybe he could’ve taught us his tricks for the radio and about the incredible people he got to interview. Maybe he would’ve been able to write his autobiography and tell his own story.
There’s one more thing I wanted to share and it’s super random, but it’s something kind of crazy that happened to happen while I was investigating this case.
A part of me thinks I shouldn’t be telling this story but you know what? People really shouldn’t tell me fascinating things if they don’t want me to share it on my podcast, without telling me they don’t want me sharing it.
So here in Las Vegas, we have a museum that’s called Zak Bagan’s Haunted Museum. You may have heard of it, Zak Bagan’s is a paranormal investigator who leads the show Ghost Hunters. So the Haunted Museum is where he collects all kinds of spooky artifacts, like a chair from a real exorcism and like part of the boat from Natalie Woods’ death. Recently, I saw that the Haunted Museum was looking to hire someone who is an excellent storyteller and has an interest in spooky things. I was like “hi, that’s me.” So I applied for the job (I won’t share why I didn’t take it). But of course, I took a copy of my book to my interview. If you don’t know about my book, it’s exactly the same as this podcast. It’s called Broken Limelight: Shocking True Crime Stories About Celebrities. So I took it with me to show that I have a lot of related experience and am 100% an excellent storyteller and interested in spooky things.
I was interviewed by the general manager and as he’s sifting through my books, he stops and asks “do you know about Bob Crane?”
I went “Um, YES. That’s the case I’m researching now!”
So this guy goes on to tell me that because of what they do at this museum, they often get offered all kinds of weird stuff. When they get something cool, first they determine if it’s legitimate, and then Zak decides if he wants to keep it in his museum. Apparently, someone brought them the bag of evidence from the Bob Crane case. Zak decided not to keep it, so the general manager kept it for himself. He pulled out his phone and showed me pictures of himself holding the evidence bags (you could also see the bloody pillowcase and electrical cord inside the bags), and then he showed me pictures he pulled from the internet that showed the evidence bags during the trial. You could see from the photos that the bags looked identical and had identical writing on them. The bag also contained the original autopsy report, which they verified to be legitimate.
So this guy starts telling me that once he came across this evidence bag, it piqued his interest in Bob Crane and he started listening to podcasts about it. In one of these podcasts, Bob’s son (I’m not sure which one) spoke to the interviewer and they declared that this bag of evidence had either been lost or destroyed, and nobody knows what happened to it.
…..Except this guy at the Haunted Museum, who happened to come by it, and ME. And now all of you.
I want to finish off with a quote.
“Bob had a way about him that could brighten the darkest day. He made others feel good about themselves with a generosity of spirit rare in anyone. And yet whenever Bob Crane's name is brought up, no one mentions any of the beautiful things that people say about him. Instead, any positivity that he managed to create gets replaced with whispers about his sorted lifestyle. And whether or not you agree with the choices that he made, Bob Crane was brutally murdered and his killer got away with it, and no one deserves that.”
For more information about Bob Crane from Carol Ford, visit vote4bobcrane.org.