Sunday, September 05, 2010


One of the strangest casting trivia twists of HOGAN'S HEROES was the role played by comic actor John Banner who played German Master Sergeant Hans Georg Schultz. Banner was born in Vienna Austria Hungary to Jewish parents, but emigrated to the U.S. soon after Hitler annexed Austria to Germany in 1938. Strangely, Banner made a career out of playing German soldiers in war films despite being Jewish. But HOGAN'S HEROES gave the actor a chance to play the role comically and quickly became a fan favorite on the show.

Banner actually wasn't too happy as being typecast as a Nazi soldier because the truth was that many of his close relatives actually died in the concentration camps during the war. But probably the role of Schultz afforded Banner some sense of satisfaction by being able to make some comic digs at the Nazi era.

Banner also guest starred in many other TV shows including MISTER ED, VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA, PERRY MASON, THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. and many more shows. But he seemed almost forever typecast as playing a comic heavy in many shows. He also was in at least 40 other films, often playing so,me sort of German officer or soldier including a Gestapo officer in CHETNIKS! THE FIGHTING GUERRILLAS back in 1943. In reality, Banner actually served in the U.S. Army Air Force in real life during the war.

Strange, but true, this popular Jewish actor made a lifelong career out of playing Nazi agents. But his role as Schultz in HOGAN'S HEROES was probably his most beloved role. Banner's last role was in a 1972 PARTRIDGE FAMILY episode, then he decided to retire back to his native Vienna. But sadly the actor died less than one year later on his 63rd birthday of a serious internal bleeding condition.

On his grave marker in Vienna, a reference is made to his playing Master Sergeant Hans Georg Schultz in "A CAGE FULL OF HEROES", which seems like a strange German translation of the English version for HOGAN'S HEROES.