R.I.P. Robert Hogan, the namesake of the Col. Hogan character on Hogan's Heroes
He played a helicopter pilot on 'M*A*S*H' and the love interest of Alice on 'Alice'.
Robert Hogan as Colonel Robert Hogan? That sounds like perfect casting, doesn't it? It nearly happened and there was a good reason for the shared names.
Hogan's Heroes writer-creator Bernard Fein was a friend of Robert Hogan — he was such a pal that he named the lead character in honor of his actor friend. Fein even pushed to have Hogan play Hogan. However, at the time, Hogan's resume was a little thin. He had worked some guest roles on The Twilight Zone, 77 Sunset Strip and The Donna Reed Show, as well as soaps like General Hospital. But the network wanted a bigger name. CBS offered the part to Van Johnson. Of course, Bob Crane ended up with the gig.
The real-life Hogan must not have been too bitter about the lost role, as he turned up twice in Fein's Hogan's Heroes — in the episodes "Reservations Are Required" and "Crittendon's Commandos."
Over the next decade, Hogan popped up in small roles all over television, most frequently on The F.B.I. (Leonardo DiCaprio's character praises Hogan's work on that crime series in the film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) and Bright Promise.
In 1974, Hogan scored one of his biggest roles to date, a recurring part on The Manhunter, a bounty hunter series set during the Great Depression. He was the sheriff to Ken Howard's bounty hunter.
In 1976, Hogan briefly landed on M*A*S*H as a helicopter pilot, the title character in "Smilin' Jack." Lt. "Smilin'" Jack Mitchell is hoping to become Pilot of the Year, you might recall.
Like The Manhunter, the series Richie Brockelman, Private Eye offered the Queens, New York, native a major role as the second fiddle — but the show similarly fizzled out quickly. Ditto Operation Petticoat, a military comedy that cast him alongside John Astin and Jamie Lee Curtis.
His role on Alice was intermittent but significant — Hogan played Greg Stemple, the love interest of Alice (Linda Lavin), even sharing Thanksgiving dinner with her.
A big lead may have eluded Hogan, but he worked on fantastic series for decades. He was a judge on Law & Order and a shipyard worker in the second season of The Wire.
On May 27, Hogan passed away in his coastal Maine home, his family announced. He was 87.