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John Banner Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (2) | Trivia (6) | Personal Quotes (2)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 28 January 1910Stanislau, Galicia, Austria-Hungary
Date of Death 28 January 1973Vienna, Austria  (abdominal hemorrhage)
Birth NameJohann Banner
Height 6' 1" (1.85 m)

Mini Bio (1)

John Banner, who achieved television immortality for his portrayal of the Luftwaffe POW camp guard Sergeant Schultz in the TV series Hogan's Heroes (1965). He was born on January 28, 1910 in Vienna. Vienna was the capital of what was then the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The 28-year-old Banner, who was Jewish, was forced to abandon his homeland after the 1938 Anschluss (union) between Nazi Germany and Austria. This happened to occur while he was engaged in a tour of Switzerland with an acting company. Unable to return to Austria due to Hitler's anti-Semitic policies of persecution. He emigrated to the United States as a political refugee.

Soon after reaching the United States. Banner, who was completely ignorant of the English language, was hired to emcee a musical revue. He had to learn his lines phonetically. But the total immersion paid off in that he rapidly picked up English. His accent and "Nordic" look ironically meant that he was typecast in several films as Nazis during the 1940s. He survived the war playing the same villains who were murdering the members of his family, who had been left behind in Austria. All of whom, perished in concentration camps.

The Banner who had emigrated to the US weighed a trim 180 lbs.. He eventually added another 100 lbs. to become the roly-poly character actor, that America would come to know and love. The 280-lb. Banner became a character actor who appeared regularly in movies and on TV. He specialized in foreign-official types, such the Soviet Ambassador in the Fred MacMurray comedy Kisses for My President (1964).

In 1965, Bing Crosby Productions cast Banner as Sgt. Schultz in the wartime sitcom Hogan's Heroes. Hogan's Heroes was a take-off on Billy Wilder's Stalag 17 (1953), but with more humor and less drama. The bumbling Dutch uncle that Sgt. Schultz portrayed was a continent apart from the wickedly evil Nazis he specialized in during the war. Spectacularly inept as a guard of Allied prisoners of war, Sgt. Schultz was prone to ignoring the irregularities that transpired in the fictive Stalag 13, bellowing "I know nothing! I see nothing! Nothing!!!"

John Banner enjoyed the role but demurred when accused of portraying a "cuddly" Nazi. He told TV Guide, "I see Schultz as the representative of some kind of goodness in every generation."

Banner, and Werner Klemperer, ["Colonel Klink"] (who like Banner was a Jewish refugee from Hitler both of whom played comical, bumbling Nazi's in "Hogan's Heroes"), co-starred with Bob Crane ["Colonel Hogan"] in The Wicked Dreams of Paula Schultz (1968). A bizarre movie "comedy" about a defecting East German athlete. The picture bombed and the trio went back to turning out the highly popular series without losing too much pride or momentum.

After the cancellation of "Hogan's Heroes" in 1971, Banner was signed for another TV show set in the past. The Chicago Teddy Bears (1971), which used the Prohibition era as its setting. Banner's Uncle Latzi was a close cousin of Schultz, but lightning did not strike twice and the series was canceled after 13 episodes.

John Banner died on his 63rd birthday, January 28, 1973, in his hometown of Vienna. He lives on as the inimitable Sgt. Schultz to the legions of "Hogan's Heroes" fans who now span the generations.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Jon C. Hopwood

Spouse (2)

Renee Christine Gemenne Muhr (19 June 1965 - 28 January 1973) (his death)
Illa Raudnitz (11 October 1940 - ?) (divorced)

Trivia (6)

Banner is best remembered for his portrayal of the Luftwaffe prison- camp guard Sergeant Schultz in the TV series Hogan's Heroes (1965). But there remains a certain irony: John Banner was Jewish.
Another bit of irony, besides John Banner being Jewish and playing a guard in a POW camp... is that like his co-star on Hogan's Heroes, Robert Clary.... John Banner was in a concentration camp prior to his release and travel out of Nazi Occupied Germany (in the early part of the Nazi control of Germany, a trip to a concentration camp was not an automatic "death sentence"). So John Banner was lucky to leave just before the Nazi policies changed.
Passed away in his native Vienna on his 63rd birthday.
In _The Untouchables_ episode "Takeover", Banner is pumped for information and says "I know nothing." 3 years before, he made the line famous as Sgt. Schultz in Hogan's Heroes (1965).
John Banner and Werner Klemperer appeared together nearly 10 years prior to "Hogans Heroes" in the episode "Safe Conduct" of Alfred Hitchcock Presents.
On Februray 2, 1973, John Banner was interred at Mauer Cemetery, Vienna, plot no 57/2/26.

Personal Quotes (2)

On his ironic casting as Sgt. Schultz: "Well, who better to play Nazis than we Jews?"
There is no such thing as a cuddly Nazi. Maybe Goering was cuddly to his wife. He wasn't cuddly to the city of Rotterdam. Schultz is not a Nazi. I see Schultz as the representative of some kind of goodness in any generation.

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