It has been over four decades since Bob Crane passed away, but his death remains a mystery. The main suspect was acquitted, and not even new technologies could provide a clear picture of what truly happened.
Born in July 1928, Bob Crane had a very successful career in the entertainment industry, but his name was eventually linked to sex addiction and homemade adult films starring himself.
BOB CRANE’S HUMBLE BEGINNINGS
Before making it big as an actor, Crane worked as a DJ. He eventually joined KNX-AM, a radio station operated by CBS, where he became people’s favorite morning man in Southern California.
After turning 33, he tried his luck at acting and had a small part in “Return to Peyton Place.” Crane attracted a lot of attention after appearing in the “Donna Reed Show.”
For over 60 episodes, Crane proved his talent as an actor, so he booked the role of Col. Robert Hogan in “Hogan’s Heroes.” He kept working in his radio show during its first season as he wasn’t sure if the TV series would flop.
Luckily, “Hogan's Heroes” ran for six seasons (between September 1965 and April 1971) and was considered one of the most loved and highest-rated comedies of the '60s. As a result, Crane became nothing short of a heartthrob.
Even though he was off the market from the age of 19 to the day he died – 1949-1978 – people couldn’t help but feel attracted to such a handsome, clean-cut, likable, rich, and famous man.
Crane’s first wife was his high-school sweetheart Anne Terzian, and they had three children: Robert, Deborah, and Karen. His second wife was actress Patricia Olson, and they shared one son, Scott, and adopted a daughter, Ana Marie.
CRANE’S DARK SIDE
The actor knew his impact on others, and he used it to fulfill his deepest desires. Not even his seemingly perfect family kept him from succumbing to his sex addiction.
Apart from being unfaithful, Crane had a secret passion that many labeled as his “dark side": he would take nude photos and X-rated videos of the women he slept with.
“He treated women like the rest of the world treats toilet paper.”
The first time his secret life was unveiled, it shocked his fans to the core as nobody expected it. According to director Paul Schrader, Crane tried to show the world that he was a conservative Republican family man, but he wasn’t.
Robert, Crane’s son, pointed out that his dad’s unusual passion was not illegal as it didn't involve drugs or coercion. Instead, women agreed to do it after finding him “handsome.”
One of the women who publicly admitted her involvement in Crane’s hobby was Cynthia Lynn, also known as Helga in “Hogan’s Heroes.”
The two started an affair in 1965, and she once described Crane as a “camera nut.” She also admitted to loving it when he took pictures of her because he would act like a “kid in a candy store.” Lynn explained:
“Yes, he took some nude pictures of me. But it was nothing to be ashamed of. There was nothing kinky or weird or about it."
HIS WIFE DIDN’T CARE
Lynn left the show after the first season, so Patricia Olson (also known as Sigrid Valdis) replaced her. Olson, who married Crane in 1970, revealed that he started hitting on her from her very first day on set, but he would hit on any woman, really.
Apart from that, she said Crane told her about his hobby right away. He even showed her thousands of photos of all the women he had been with.
Robert also claimed that Olson might have been involved in his dad’s murder.
The actress pointed out that Crane loved having sex and filming it, and he never broke any laws doing so as nothing he did was unconstitutional. After tying the knot, Crane kept hooking up with other women. Shockingly, Olson didn’t care. She confessed:
“He treated women like the rest of the world treats toilet paper. Who's going to be jealous of toilet paper?"
Crane didn’t do everything on his own as he received John Henry Carpenter’s help. As a Sony video equipment salesperson, Carpenter helped Crane obtain the necessary equipment to record and create his photos and films.
According to Robert, his dad’s relationship with Carpenter deteriorated over the years, and the salesperson soon became a “pain in the butt” who would cramp the actor’s style.
In June 1978, Crane supposedly called Robert to tell him he wanted a “clean slate” and was getting ready to make changes that included divorcing Olson and distancing himself from people like Carpenter.
Two days later, on June 29, 1978, Crane was killed in Phoenix, Arizona. He was hit by a camera tripod. The criminal investigation was complicated from the start as Robert and two other people contaminated the scene with their fingerprints and hair samples.
Still, Carpenter was the main suspect. The police knew about their partnership and recent fights, and since there was no sign of forced entry into his apartment, they figured Crane must have known the assailant.
JOHN HENRY CARPENTER’S ROLE
The main reason to believe Carpenter killed Crane was the blood sample authorities found in the former’s rental car – the same blood type as Crane. However, it wasn’t enough to put him behind bars.
In 1992, 12 years after Crane’s passing, Carpenter was charged with murder after a previously unseen crime photo was ruled admissible. Two years later, though, Carpenter was acquitted. In September 1998, he passed away.
Ever since Crane died, his homicide has been a mystery. In 2016, reporter John Hook tested DNA samples found on Carpenter’s car in an attempt to use new technologies to shed light on the case, but it didn’t make things clearer.
The test picked up two DNA profiles (who remain unidentified), but none was from Crane. Robert also claimed that Olson might have been involved in his dad’s murder, mainly because he left his entire estate to her. As of now, Crane’s murder remains unsolved.
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