Werner Klemperer (March 22, 1920 – December 6, 2000) was a German-American stage, film, and television actor and singer/musician.
Klemperer in December 1998
March 22, 1920|
|Died||December 6, 2000
Manhattan, New York City, U.S.
|Cause of death||Cancer|
|Spouse(s)||Susan Dempsay (m. 1959–1968; divorced)
Louise Troy (m. 1969–1975; divorced)
Kim Hamilton (m. 1997–2000; his death)
Born in Cologne, Rhine Province, Germany, Klemperer and his family fled Germany in 1935. After serving in the United States Army during World War II, he began his professional acting career on the Broadway stage in 1947. Klemperer appeared in several films and numerous guest starring roles during the 1950s and 1960s. In 1965, he won the role of Colonel Wilhelm Klink on the CBS television sitcom Hogan's Heroes. The series aired for six seasons with Klemperer receiving a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series nomination for each year, winning the award in 1968 and 1969.
Klemperer was born in Cologne, Germany, to a musical family. His father was renowned conductor Otto Klemperer and his mother was soprano Johanna Geisler. He had a younger sister named Lotte (1923–2003). His father was Jewish by birth; he converted to Catholicism but later returned to Judaism. His mother was Lutheran.
The Klemperer family emigrated to the United States in 1935, settling in Los Angeles, where Otto Klemperer became conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Werner Klemperer began acting in high school and enrolled in acting courses at the Pasadena Playhouse before joining the United States Army to serve in World War II. While stationed in Hawaii, he joined the Army's Special Services unit, spending the next years touring the Pacific entertaining the troops. At the war's end, he performed on Broadway before moving into television acting.
Klemperer was also a violinist and an accomplished concert pianist. He broadened his acting career by performing as an operatic baritone and a singer in Broadway musicals. He can also be heard as the Speaker in Arnold Schoenberg's Gurre-Lieder, in a 1979 live performance with the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
Klemperer's first major film role was as a psychiatrist in Alfred Hitchcock's The Wrong Man (1956). He played a German government officer in the 1959 episode, "The Haunted U-Boat," of the series One Step Beyond. He received significant notice for his role in the award-winning 1961 film Judgment at Nuremberg. The film presents a fictionalized account of the post-World War II Nuremberg Trials, with Klemperer portraying Emil Hahn, a Nazi prosecutor and one of the defendants at the trial. Prior to this, he had a small role in the 1957 Errol Flynn film Istanbul and a pivotal part in the "Comstock Conspiracy" episode of Maverick that same year. He played the title role in the 1961 film Operation Eichmann. He guest-starred in the first Brian Keith television series, Crusader, a Cold War drama that aired on CBS. During this time he made three guest appearances on Perry Mason: he played murder victim Stefan Riker in the 1958 episode "The Case of the Desperate Daughter"; the character Ulrik Zenas in the 1963 episode "The Case of the Two-Faced Turn-a-bout"; and Inspector Hurt in 1964 in "The Case of a Place Called Midnight". In 1963 Klemperer also portrayed a professor of psychology in "The Dream Book", an episode on the sitcom My Three Sons.
Prior to Hogan's Heroes, Klemperer appeared in the 1956 episode 'Safe Conduct' of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, along with future co-star John Banner; twice appeared as Hugo on the syndicated romantic comedy series, How to Marry a Millionaire (1957–1959), with Barbara Eden and Merry Anders; and appeared on the "Purple Gang" episode of The Untouchables.
He is best known, however, as Colonel Wilhelm Klink: the bumbling, cowardly and self-serving Kommandant of Stalag 13 on Hogan's Heroes, which aired from 1965–1971. Klemperer, conscious that he would be playing the role of a German officer during the Nazi regime, agreed to the part only on the condition that Klink would be portrayed as a fool who never succeeded. When Klemperer's father, the famous conductor, saw his first episode of Hogan's Heroes, he said to his son, "Your work is good, but who is the author of this material?" In addition to the character's bumblings, Klink was also remembered for his excruciating violin playing, spoofing Klemperer's talent for the violin. For his performance as Klink, Klemperer received six Emmy Award nominations for best supporting actor, winning in 1968 and 1969.
He appeared in character and costume as Klink in the Batman episode "It's How You Play the Game" and as Officer Bolix in the Lost in Space episode "All That Glitters" in 1966. He played a bumbling East German official in the 1968 American comedy film The Wicked Dreams of Paula Schultz, directed by George Marshall and starring Elke Sommer and several of his costars from Hogan's Heroes, including Bob Crane. Klemperer later starred in Wake Me When the War Is Over in 1969 playing the role of a German Major, Erich Mueller alongside Eva Gabor. He also played a villain in an episode of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea titled "The Saboteur".
After Hogan's Heroes ended in 1971, Klemperer continued his career in stage and film roles and guest starring roles on television. In 1987, he portrayed Herr Schultz in the Broadway revival of Cabaret. The role earned Klemperer a Best Featured Actor Tony Award nomination. His final television work was a guest voice role in a 1993 episode of The Simpsons, as "Homer's Guardian Angel as Colonel Klink".
After his father's death in 1973, Klemperer expanded his acting career with musical roles in opera and Broadway musicals. He earned a Tony Award nomination for his performance in Cabaret in its 1987 Broadway revival. A member of the Board of Directors of the New York Chamber Symphony, Klemperer served as a narrator with many other American symphony orchestras including the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra. He also made occasional guest appearances on television dramas, and took part in a few studio recordings, notably a version of Arnold Schoenberg's Gurre-Lieder with the Boston Symphony and Seiji Ozawa, in 1979. From 1979 to 1982 he appeared as Bassa Selim in 18 performances of Mozart's singspiel Die Entführung aus dem Serail at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. In 1981, he appeared, to critical and audience raves, as Prince Orlofsky in Seattle Opera's production of Die Fledermaus. In 1990 he narrated the children's story "Gerald McBoing Boing" (music by Gail Kubik) for a CD of classical music for children. In 1992, he made a guest appearance in an episode of Law & Order, "Starstruck," as the father of an attempted murder suspect.
In 1993, Klemperer reprised the role of Klink in an episode of The Simpsons as Homer's guardian angel and spirit guide in the episode "The Last Temptation of Homer" (episode # 5.9). According to the episode's DVD commentary, when Klemperer appeared, he had to be given a quick reminder of how to play Colonel Klink. He declined other offers to reprise the character, including one from talk show host Conan O'Brien.
Klemperer was the father of two children, Mark and Erika, with his first wife, Susan Dempsay. On the set of Hogan's Heroes, he met his second wife, actress Louise Troy, who was making a guest appearance. They married in 1969, and divorced in 1975.
In 1997, Klemperer married his third wife, television actress Kim Hamilton, after dating her for 21 years. They remained married until Klemperer's death. Hamilton died 13 years later at age 81 on September 16, 2013.
Klemperer died of cancer according to John A. Anderson, his manager, on December 6, 2000, aged 80, at his home in Manhattan. He was cremated and his ashes were scattered at sea. He was survived by his wife Kim Hamilton and two children.
|1956||Flight to Hong Kong||Bendesh|
|1956||Death of a Scoundrel||Herbert Bauman (Clementi's lawyer)|
|1956||The Wrong Man||Dr. Bannay||Uncredited|
|1957||5 Steps to Danger||Dr. Simmons|
|1957||Kiss Them for Me||Lt. Walter Wallace|
|1958||The High Cost of Loving||Joseph Jessup|
|1958||The Goddess||Joe Wilsey|
|1961||Operation Eichmann||Adolf Eichmann|
|1961||Judgment at Nuremberg||Emil Hahn|
|1962||Escape from East Berlin||Walter Brunner|
|1964||Youngblood Hawke||Mr. Leffer|
|1965||Dark Intruder||Prof. Malaki|
|1965||Ship of Fools||Lt. Huebner|
|1968||The Wicked Dreams of Paula Schultz||Klaus|
|1991||The Cabinet of Dr. Ramirez||Fat Man Looking for a Tax Break|
|1992||Queen Esther||Haman||Voice, Direct-to-video release|
|1951-1952||Goodyear Television Playhouse||Various roles||2 episodes|
|1953||The Secret Files of Captain Video||Meister||Episode: "The Box"|
|1955||Studio 57||Dubrov||Segment: "Win a Cigar"|
|1955||Crusader||Wilhelm Leichner||Episode: "The Bargain"|
|1956||Alfred Hitchcock Presents||Professor/Captain Greisham||Episode: "Safe Conduct"|
|1957||Navy Log||Ludwig||Episode: " After You, Ludwig"|
|1957||Wire Service||Krylov||Episode: "The Washington Stars"|
|1957||General Electric Theater||Muller||Episode: "The Questioning Note"|
|1957||M Squad||Heinrich Ronn||Episode: "Face of Evil"|
|1957||Maverick||Alex Jennings||Episode: "Comstock Conspiracy"|
|1958||Perry Mason||Stefan Riker||Episode: "The Case of the Desperate Daughter"|
|1958||Studio One||Dorfmann||Episode: "Balance of Terror"|
|1958||The Thin Man||Albert||Episode: "The Pre-Incan Caper"|
|1958||Gunsmoke||Clifton Bunker||Episode: "Sunday Supplement"|
|1958||The Court of Last Resort||Malone||Episode: "The Allen Cutler Case"|
|1958||The Silent Service||Captain Lieutenant Prien||Episode: "U-47 in Scapa Flow"|
|1959||Behind Closed Doors||Slavko||Episode: "Crypto 40"|
|1959||Steve Canyon||Linz||Episode: "Iron Curtain"|
|1959||The Third Man||Holz Donner||Episode: "The Third Medaillon"|
|1959||Have Gun – Will Travel||Etienne||Episode: "Fragile"|
|1959||Alcoa Presents: One Step Beyond||Herr Bautmann||Episode: "The Haunted U-Boat"|
|1959||How to Marry a Millionaire||Mr. Obermeyer||Episode: "Gwen's Secret"|
|1960||The Alaskans||Baron||Episode: "Gold Fever"|
|1960||Overland Trail||Arnold Braun||Episode: "Vigilantes of Montana"|
|1960||Alcoa Theatre||Colonel Hanning||Episode: "The Observer"|
|1960||Rawhide||Kessel||Episode: "Incident of the Music Maker"|
|1960||Men into Space||Major Kralenko||Episode: "Flare Up"|
|1960||The Untouchables||Jan Tornek||Episode: "Purple Gang"|
|1960||Thriller||Mr. Clark||Episode: "Man in the Middle"|
|1961||The Islanders||Michel Serati||Episode: "The Pearls of Ratu"|
|1961||Have Gun – Will Travel||Leander Johnson||Episode: "The Uneasy Grave"|
|1961||Adventures in Paradise||Kuberli||Episode: "Survival"|
|1962||Checkmate||Franz Leder||Episode: "An Assassin Arrives, Andante"|
|1963||Perry Mason||Ulric Zenas||Episode: "The Case of the Two-Faced Turn-a-bout"|
|1963||The Lloyd Bridges Show||Gustavsen||Episode: "The Wonder of Wanda"|
|1963||77 Sunset Strip||Schtiekel||Episode: "Escape to Freedom"|
|1963||The Dakotas||Col. von Bleist||Episode: "Trial at Grand Forks"|
|1963||My Three Sons||Professor Engel||2 episodes|
|1963||GE True||K. H. Frank||2 episodes|
|1964||Perry Mason||Hurt||Episode: "The Case of a Place Called Midnight"|
|1964||The Man from U.N.C.L.E.||Laslo Kurasov||Episode: "The Project Strigas Affair"|
|1964||Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea||Cregar||Episode: "The Blizzard Maker"|
|1965||Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea||Brainwasher (voice)||Episode: "The Saboteur"|
|1965||Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre||Colonel Wertha||Episode: "Escape into Jeopardy"|
|1965–1971||Hogan's Heroes||Colonel Wilhelm Klink||168 episodes|
|1966||Lost in Space||Bolix||Episode: "All That Glitters"|
|1966||Batman||Colonel Klink (uncredited cameo)||Episode: "It's How You Play the Game"|
|1968||Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In||Colonel Wilhelm Klink||Episode #2.6|
|1969||Wake Me When the War Is Over||Mayor Erich Mueller||Television film|
|1972||Night Gallery||Ludwig Asper||Episode: "Green Fingers/The Funeral/The Tune in Dan's Cafe"|
|1972||The Doris Day Show||Jacques Moreau||Episode: "Gowns by Louis"|
|1972||Assignment Vienna||Insp. Hoffman||Television film|
|1972||Love, American Style||Harold Baxter||Segment: "Love and the Unbearable Fiance"|
|1973||McMillan & Wife||Dr. Ernest Bleeker||Episode: "The Devil You Say"|
|1977||The Rhinemann Exchange||Franz Altmuller||Miniseries|
|1978||Tabitha||Henry Hastings||Episode: "Tabitha's Party"|
|1979||The Love Boat||Mr. Perkins||Episode: "The Grass Is Always Greener..."|
|1980||Steve Martin: Comedy Is Not Pretty||Plato||Television special|
|1981||Vega$||Siegfried Klaus||Episode: "Heist"|
|1981||Return of the Beverly Hillbillies||C.D. Medford||Television film|
|1983||Matt Houston||Felix Randolph||Episode: "The Purrfect Crime"|
|1986||Mr. Sunshine||Dean||2 episodes|
|1988||American Experience||Prince Maximilian of Bavaria||Episode: "Views of a Vanishing Frontier"|
|1992||Law & Order||William Unger||Episode: "Star Struck"|
|1993||The Simpsons||Homer's Guardian Angel as Colonel Klink (voice)||Episode: "The Last Temptation of Homer", (final television appearance)|
- Weinraub, Bernard "Werner Klemperer, Klink in 'Hogan's Heroes,' Dies at 80" The New York Times (December 8, 2000)
- Klemperer was a cousin of Victor Klemperer.
- "Hogans Heroes Fan Club – Article – Werner Klemperer – Captain Spaulding".
- Erickson, Hal "Werner Klemperer" (Allmovie biography)
- "The Dream Book", S03E20, My Three Sons, originally broadcast January 31, 1963. TV Guide (tvguide.com), a subsidiary of CBS Interactive, Inc. Retrieved August 4, 2017.
- "Werner Klemperer", Metropolitan Opera Archives
- "Politically Incorrect With Bill Maher : Episode Guide". MSN. Retrieved June 26, 2011.
- Woo, Elaine "Werner Klemperer; Played Col. Klink in 'Hogan's Heroes'" Los Angeles Times (December 8, 2008)
- "Camp Clown".
- "Klemperer Likes Trend in Which Heroes Have Faults". St. Joseph News-Press. May 29, 1966. p. 6C. Retrieved January 14, 2013.
- Rode, Alan K. (2007-04-13). "Kim Hamilton interview with Alan K. Rode – Pt 1 and Pt 2". Film Noir Foundation. Retrieved 2013-10-13.
- "Werner Klemperer; portrayed Col. Klink". Reading Eagle. December 8, 2000. p. B6. Retrieved January 14, 2013.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Werner Klemperer.|
- Werner Klemperer at the Internet Broadway Database
- Werner Klemperer on IMDb
- Werner Klemperer at AllMovie
- Werner Klemperer at the TCM Movie Database
- Werner Klemperer papers, 1943–2001, held by the Billy Rose Theatre Division, New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
- Werner Klemperer at concentric.net
- Klemperer's parents, Otto and Johanna, 1920s portrait by Nickolas Muray
- Werner Klemperer at Find a Grave
- Interview with Werner Klemperer by Bruce Duffie, July, 1985