9 ways the Hogan's Heroes pilot differs from the rest of the series
Their ranks and uniforms changed — and an entire Hero went missing!
Hogan's Heroes made its debut on September 17, 1965. The World War II sitcom introduced itself with "The Informer," a pilot set in early 1944. Robert Butler directed the episode. He was the studios' go-to man for pilot episodes at the time — he was behind the camera for the pilots of Star Trek, Batman, Ben Casey, Dr. Kildare and many more. No wonder Hogan's Heroes worked.
Hogan's Heroes would go on to run for six seasons. But the rest of the episodes were different in certain ways. Let's take a look.
1. It's in black-and-white, obviously.
The first difference is immediately apparent. Hogan's Heroes was a vividly colorful sitcom — for the most part. "The Informer," however, was filmed in black-and-white. One day later, Get Smart would air its pilot in black-and-white — and similarly make the shift to full-color!
2. It's called "Camp 13" not "Stalag 13."
Throughout the episode, the location is referred to as "Camp 13." Of course, the setting would quickly switch to its familiar name, Stalag 13, in subsequent episodes. (Episode four, "The Inspector General," also uses the name Camp 13, suggesting it was filmed after the pilot.)
3. Hogan and his men live in Barracks 7.
Staying on the subject of familiar settings — Hogan and his heroes are typically housed in Barracks 2 throughout the series. However, from the first scene in the pilot, we see that they are instead living in Barracks 7 in this tale.
4. There's an extra Hero.
Russian-born Leonid Kinskey, perhaps best known as Sascha in Casablanca, has a major, credited role in "The Informer." The St. Petersburg native plays Vladimir Minsk, a Soviet Air Force sergeant living in Hogan's barracks. He also practices his family's trade and serves as the tailor for the heroes. Minsk, however, grew quickly uncomfortable with the role and opted to not sign a contract when the pilot was picked up as a series. Thus, his character vanishes.
5. Larry Hovis did not hide his wedding ring.
Keep a close eye on the left hand of Carter (Larry Hovis). Throughout the episode, a wedding band can be spotted on his ring finger. Hovis was proudly married — but his character, Andrew Carter, was not. The actor refused to take off the ring to honor his bond. So, for the rest of the series, Carter typically wears gloves to cover up the ring. (Though, it can still be rarely spotted on.) Oh, speaking of Carter — in "The Informer," he carries the rank of Lieutenant Carter. Throughout the rest of the series, he is Technical Sergeant Carter.
6. Burkhalter had a different rank.
Staying on the subject of rank changes, Burkhalter (Leon Askin) appears late in the episode as "Colonel Burkhalter." In the rest of the series, the commanding officer is General Burkhalter.
7. Kinchloe wore a different hat.
Ivan Dixon sports a traditional baseball cap in the pilot episode. Throughout the rest of the series, he typically sports a wool cap akin to what Radar wears in M*A*S*H.
8. Helga helped out in the tunnels.
Cynthia Lynn played the first blond German sympathetic to Hogan. Her dedication to the Allies is a little more pronounced in the pilot. Helga appears in the tunnels with the Heroes, serving as their manicurist. This never happens again.
9. Newkirk wore a different uniform.
Richard Dawson had a slightly different look. His cap was a little different, but you will primarily note that Newkirk is not wearing his trademark turtleneck.