Actor Werner Klemperer, best known for his colorful portrayal of Colonel Klink on the hit 1960s television series "Hogan's Heroes," died on Wed., Dec. 6 at his home in New York City. He was 80. The cause of death was cancer.
Klemperer, a refugee from Nazi Germany, was the son of renowned conductor Otto Klemperer. His film and TV career was launched in the early 1950s when he played a range of roles on such television shows as "Alfred Hitchcock Presents," "Maverick," "How to Marry a Millionaire," and "Gunsmoke," among other programs. His many film credits include: "Judgement at Nuremburg," "Death of a Scoundrel," and "Ship of Fools."
Klemperer also appeared on Broadway, opposite Jose Ferrer in "The Insect Comedy" and opposite Tallulah Bankhead in "Dear Charles." He garnered a Tony nomination for his performance in the revival of "Cabaret," directed by Hal Prince. He most recently appeared on the stage in Chekhov's "Uncle Vanya," at Circle in the Square.
Still, playing the commandant of a German prisoner-of-war camp on "Hogan's Heroes" put Klemperer on the map. He earned two Emmys for his stint and rolled up five Emmy nominations.
He was keenly aware of the pitfalls of typecasting and on a radio interview with Peter Anthony Holder in Montreal in 1996, he said he stayed away from characters like Col. Klink following his "Hogan's Heroes" gig, although that choice was costly. "I thought that was better for my career as an actor. I may have lost a bunch of money because of it, but it was worth the trip for me."
He is survived by his wife, actress Kim Hamilton Klemperer, a son, a daughter, and a sister.