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Bob Crane was a man conflicted. He was a devoted father and family man when he was at home. But, at the same time, he was harboring a deep obsession. Bob Crane was a sex addict before the condition was given a name.
Family photographs taken with his three children, Robert Jr., Debbie and Karen depict a doting father who truly loved his kids. They adored him also. In later years, they would have to reconcile the man they knew at home, versus the man who was consumed by pornography.
Bob Crane had always enjoyed the company of women. But he had very few close male friends.
Acquaintances yes, but true friends, no. That all changed on set of Hogan’s Heroes when co-star Richard Dawson (Peter Newkirk) introduced Crane to a salesman for Sony Electronics; one John Carpenter.
Carpenter introduced Crane to the wonders of home video, years before it was available to the general public.
The two became obsessed with picking up women and videotaping their sexual conquests on videotape. About addiction, Crane once remarked, “I don’t drink or smoke… two out of three ain’t bad.” Number three of course, was his weakness for women. Perhaps it was his sexually repressed Catholic upbringing in middle-class Connecticut that led to this obsession. Whatever it was, Crane in the end, jeopardized family, healthy relationships, even his career, for the allure of pornography.
Carpenter, for his part, could best be described as an “accomplice” in Crane’s obsession. Robert Crane Jr. once told me, “Carpenter was slimy. I kept thinking, ‘Dad, certainly you can do better than this? This is your best friend’? Really? This is the best you can do?”
Robert was 27 when his father was murdered in Scottsdale in June of 1978. He told me he wished he had advised his dad to cut out the antics and “get to work.” He said in the later years his dad and Carpenter acted like “fraternity brothers.”
In the early days, Carpenter provided the equipment, and the technical expertise in how to operate and repair it. He taught Crane all the in’s and out’s. And in the end, he may have taught him too well. In the months before his murder in Scottsdale, Bob Crane was in the process of severing his long relationship with John Carpenter. Was that the motive for Carpenter to kill Crane? Police thought so. Others say police were blinded by their focus on John Carpenter at the expense of all other suspects. In my book, “Who Killed Bob Crane?” I take the reader through the case against Carpenter, which, on the surface looked fairly strong. However, our new round of DNA tests tell us something else…