Monday, June 04, 2012

Hogan loses another hero

"Hogan's Heroes" star Richard Dawson (middle in blue) passed away over the weekend.

The death over the weekend of actor Richard Dawson brought back memories of a mainstay sitcom from childhood. Hogan's Heroes was on the airwaves from 1965-1971, a hilarious ensemble of actors who mocked the Germans in a World War II prisoner of war (POW) camp where the allied prisoners outsmarted their German captors on a daily basis.

Each show began with the familiar Hogan's Heroes theme music. The terminology from the show became a part of everyday life. Sargent Schultz's familiar, "I know nothing!" was often repeated with a forced German accent.

Dawson, who was 79 and passed away from cancer, was in his 30s when he played Newkirk, the British POW who was one of Colonel Hogan's right hand men. From Wikipedia:
Royal Air Force Corporal Peter Newkirk (British-American actor Richard Dawson) is the group's conman, magician, pick-pocket, card shark, forger, bookie, tailor, lock picker, safe cracker and impersonator of German officers (and on one occasion, Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister during the war); on numerous occasions Newkirk also impersonates women to fool the Germans and help the underground movement. He also is in charge of making uniforms and assisting in distracting the Germans to perform other sabotage. This series marked Dawson's second appearance on American television (he had earlier appeared on an episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show in 1963). Dawson auditioned for the role of Hogan, but was told he did not sound American enough. In the version translated for broadcast in Germany, Newkirk's pronounced British accent was replaced by a simulation of stuttering. Newkirk is also a skilled tailor, often called upon to make or alter uniforms and other disguises. Newkirk was also teamed with Carter and his irritation at Carter's bumbling antics and lack of common sense was often used for comedic effect. Newkirk is called "the Englander" by Schultz and sometimes even Klink in some of the episodes. It can be argued that he was the first POW at Stalag 13. Richard Dawson has stated in an interview that he had initially used a Liverpool accent for the Newkirk character, but had been told by Mike Dann (the then-president of CBS) to switch it to a Cockney accent, as Dann felt that the Liverpool accent was not accessible to the American TV audience.
He was known later in life as the host of Family Feud but to me he will always be one of Hogan's heroes.

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