Werner Klemperer, everyone’s favorite TV German Air Force colonel, was best known for his role as the bumbling Col. Wilhelm Klink on the comedy series Hogan’s Heroes (1965). Although he’ll forever be known as the blustering but inept German commandant of Stalag 13, Klemperer was in fact a talented dramatic actor, as evidenced by his acclaimed performance as an arrogant, unrepentant Nazi judge being tried for crimes against humanity in Judgment at Nuremberg (1961). His identification with Nazi roles notwithstanding, Klemperer was in real life the son of a Jew who fled with his family from Nazi Germany in the 1930s. He served in the U.S. Army during World War II. When he was offered the Col. Klink role, Klemperer only agreed to do it if the show’s producers promised that Klink would never succeed in any of his schemes. “Col. Klink” earned Klemperer five Emmy nominations, and he took home the trophy twice, in 1968 and 1969. After the series, Klemperer carved out an impressive musical career as a conductor and also served as a narrator with many major U.S. symphony orchestras. He was an accomplished concert violinist.
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