Werner Klemperer forever lived under the shadow of his ''genius'' father
The Hogan's Heroes star tried throughout his life to impress his famous dad, but avoided following the same career path.
When Werner Klemperer was entertaining millions as Colonel Klink, he tried to explain Hogan's Heroes to his dad, Otto.
"'Hogan's Heroes?' My father didn't know what the series was. That took hours to explain," Klemperer recalled in a 1980 interview with The Los Angeles Times. The actor dutifully spelled out the concept of the sitcom and his role in it — a role which earned him two Emmy Awards.
His father listened patiently and then asked, "And who is the author?"
"The way he said author…," Klemperer remembered painfully. "I mean, how could I explain to him that these guys, a bunch of them, sit around a table and write a television script? To him, the question was, is it Shakespeare?"
Hogan's Heroes was not Shakespeare, but it was a Top 40 television series that, in its first season, drew one-quarter of all television viewers in its time slot. But Otto Klemperer was unlikely to have been impressed by Nielsen ratings. Otto was a cultured master of the arts. Otto was one of the leading conductors of the early 20th century, a man intimately familiar with Beethoven's 3rd Symphony, not sitcoms.
With his father a titan of classical music, Werner grew up with a musical education. "I studied piano and violin, but I made noises a dog shouldn't hear," Klemperer humbly explained to The Orlando Sentinel in 1985. Still, he was talented enough to fiddle with a violin on Hogan's Heroes, as seen in the image up top.
"It's no secret that when his father, the famous symphony conductor Otto Klemperer, was alive, son Werner stayed clear of the music world, fearing, perhaps, the inevitable comparisons between father and son," the LA Times mused in that 1980 profile.
Otto Klemperer died in 1973. It was only then that Werner finally summoned his courage and attempted to pursue a musical career. "Klemperer switches careers in middle age," the Time headline declared. He was 57 at the time, and his "midlife crisis," if you want to call it that, included a makeover.
"In the past two years, [Klemperer] has climbed steadily as a "nonsinging actor" in the Metropolitan Opera Co.… he has gone from silly Klink to serious Mozart," the journalist wrote. It may have been the dawn of the Eighties, but Klemperer dressed as a beatnik, wearing a red turtleneck beard. The interview was meant to take place in the dining room of the Ritz, but the stuffy restaurants would not allow Klemperer entry with his casual attire. Instead, he endured the uncomfortable interrogation in the bar. The TV star sounded like a man eaten up inside by his inability to live up to his father.
"Music has always been a conflict. I've always been a frustrated musician," Klemperer admitted, before trying to stress. "It has nothing to do with living under my father's shadow." Klemperer then drank out of the wrong water glass. The one belonging to his interviewer. He was nervous.
"He was a real kind of genius," Klemperer said of his pop in awe.
"My father would look down upon everything I've done with joy," the former Klink reflected, "except conducting. Then he would have said: 'Are you nuts?'"
Watch Hogan's Heroes on MeTV!
Weeknights at 10 PM & 10:30 PM*available in most MeTV markets
One of my favorites is the Perry Mason episode when he plays a Swiss Policeman and you could see some of Klink's mannerisms. Then I realized, there were Klemperer's mannerisms!
As for his skill at playing the violin, at least SOME of his bad playing was fake. He could play well, maybe not great, but well.
A great actor all the same.
Nominations: Best Outstanding Comedy Series in 1966, 1967 and 1968; Bob Crane for Best Actor in a Comedy Series in 1966 and 1967; Nita Talbot for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series in 1968; and Gordon Avil for cinematography in 1968. In 1966-67 ranked #17
(About Nielsen Ratings currently). - https://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/style/tv/permanent/faqnielsen.htm)
Human Desire (1954) 1 hr 30 min
Drama, Film Noir, Romance
Director: Fritz Lang
A Korean War vet returns to his job as a railroad engineer and becomes involved in an affair with a co-worker's wife following a murder on a train where they meet.
Gimme A Break's grandfather was John Hoyt, who had a considerable career long before that series - indeed, long predating his Hogan's Heroes appearances.
If he were still around, Hoyt could have done one of your MeTV "All Over Me" spots - including to a Svengoolie nod for "Attack Of The Puppet People".
"According to co-star Richard Dawson, Klemperer supplied his own uniforms. When Klemperer's father, the famous conductor Otto Klemperer, saw his first episode of Hogan's Heroes, he said to his son, "Your work is good, but who is the author of this material?" In addition to the character's bumblings, Klink was also remembered for his excruciatingly bad violin playing. For his performance as Klink, Klemperer received six Emmy Award nominations for best supporting actor, winning successive awards in 1968 and 1969."
Not bad from a show that was considered a bit controversial at the time.
No matter what I see him in, he owned that role as Klink!!
Like Reply Delete
Thanks for giving me one of these opportunities. There's much more than what's posted below.
But perhaps, a very funny sitcom could be constructed around a serial-killer. "Mr. Gacy's Neighborhood."
Perhaps I am a humorless stiff. I can live with that. C'est la vie.
Read WK's wiki and know that he wasn't going to play that role (for obvious) reasons unless Klink was made to look "silly" and to "never succeed" but I'm betting there were enough fans involved who saw the message in the Show.
If you read about WWII POWs, they felt an obligation to give the germans a hard time. Officers were trained in evasion and escape. The Red Cross packages were imlortant for the POWs, but luxury goods were also included for tye purposes of bribing the guards.
And laughing, maybe especially after making fun of the guards, helped keep moral up.
Hogan's Heroes wasn't realistic, but lots of sitcoms are based on an odd situation, and the jokes come from that. It made fun of the germans, and showed the allies as being way more capable.
I don't mind if others, like yourself, enjoy the show.
TV critics (Cleveland Amory and the like) were notoriously negative about everything! If they didn't approach their job that way then readers would lose interest in a positive attitude. We read the paper daily and TV Guide weekly. And I can't even remember the Shows that stood out. But over time have become so of our favorites.