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John Banner (born Johann Banner; 28 January 1910 – 28 January 1973) was an Austrianmarker-born American actor. He is best known for his role as a World War II Germanmarker soldier, the comedic Sergeant Schultz on the television situation comedy Hogan's Heroes (1965-1971). Schultz was constantly encountering evidence that the inmates of his Stalag prison camp were planning mayhem, and he was aware that he would be better off if he pretended ignorance: thus his constant catch phrase "I know nothing! Nothing!" One episode of Hogan's Heroes is titled "At Last: Schultz Knows Something."

Early years

Banner was born in Vienna, Austriamarker. In 1938, Banner, a trim 180 pounds (80 kg), worked with an acting troupe in Switzerlandmarker and found he could not return to his native Austria because he was Jewish. He emigrated to the United Statesmarker and, though unable to speak a word of English, was hired as a Master of Ceremonies. Banner learned his words phonetically and soon mastered the English language. From 1942 to 1945, Banner served in the U. S. Army Air Force.

Before Banner came to acting, he studied law for two semesters. His feature film credits include over 40 films and his first was Pacific Blackout. He was usually cast as a Nazi spy because of his accent and Teutonic features. This was especially difficult for Banner, as his family had been wiped out in Nazi concentration camps.

1950s and Hogan's Heroes

In the 1950s Banner's weight had gone up to 280 pounds, and he made over 70 television appearances in the next two decades, including Mr. Ed, The Lucy Show, Perry Mason, The Partridge Family, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (Hot Line 1964),The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (The Neptune Affair 1964). In 1954 he played Bavarro in the Rocky Jones, Space Ranger series. Banner had previously played other Germans: Rudolph Höss in Operation Eichmann (1961) and Gregor Strasser in Hitler in 1962. In 1956, he played a train conductor in an episode of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents", appearing in a scene with future fellow co-star Werner Klemperer, who played a spy. He also had a small role in a color episode of Adventures of Superman, playing a somewhat hapless character that to some extent anticipated his Sgt. Schultz characterization. In 1971, he appeared as Uncle Latzi in the short lived TV sitcom The Chicago Teddy Bears. Banner was loved by all the cast of Hogan's Heroes (as told by those still alive on the recently issued DVD sets) and without effort became the main character of every scene in which he played. He told TV Guide in 1967, "Schultz is not a Nazi. I see Schultz as the representative of some kind of goodness in any generation."

Death

Banner died of an abdominal hemorrhage on his 63rd birthday in Vienna in 1973. He was buried at the cemetery in Mauermarker. His grave can be found under Gruppe 57 Reihe 2 Nummer 26 (as John Banner's tombstone was removed since his death, his grave is at the site of a Johann Hübner).

References

  1. http://mikesnoise.typepad.com/photos/uncategorized/schultz.jpg


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