Out of Focus?

No one denies that a man's head was smashed in, most likely with a camera tripod, on June 29, 1978, in an Arizona hotel room. No one denies that this same man was a porno freak, a maker and watcher and star of homemade sex films. No one denies he had been doing it for years--since the 1960s, at least, likely since the 1950s. No one denies this ruined at least one marriage and threatened another. That's not the problem.

The problem is 24 years after Bob Crane, star of Hogan's Heroes, was murdered in Scottsdale, found with his head broken and bloodied and with an electrical cord wrapped around his neck, the body still does not rest in peace. There are still so many playing keep-away with the corpse all these years later: sons who despise each other, a filmmaker who sees Bob Crane less as man than as symbol for all that's wrong with the sway of fame, a wife who says the filmmaker is killing her with his own fictions, a studio trying to sell its movie. They've all become bit players in this sordid story, in which Bob Crane--his camera in one hand, his cock in the other--is the main attraction.

The co-stars of this tale--which is as lurid as writer-director Paul Schrader's Auto Focus, in which Greg Kinnear portrays Crane as jovial pornographer--have revved up the PR machine, even those who'd seek to discredit it. God knows if Scotty Crane, Bob's 31-year-old son, loved the movie, this story wouldn't exist. It's as much fun to write about the sideshow as the main attraction, which is why Scotty and Bobby are appearing in print and on television as often as Schrader and Kinnear.

"Hey, I'm just trying to stay away from the Jerry Springer aspects of this picture," Kinnear says, grinning. Good luck, pal.

Scotty is host of his own radio show in the Northwest and the son of Bob Crane and his second wife, Patricia Olson, whom he married in 1970. At least we believe Scotty to be the son, since he has his father's sperm counts and DNA tests to prove him legit. Yet Scotty's half-brother, 51-year-old Robert David Crane--who goes by Bob Crane Jr., or Bobby--wants you to think Scotty, born Robert Scott Crane, is an impostor, a fraud grubbing for loose change. He was especially vocal about this last year, around the time Scotty launched www.bobcrane.com, where, for $19.95, you can view Bob's sexual exploits in still photography and moving pictures and purchase T-shirts and stickers featuring such Bob Crane quotes as, "I don't smoke, I don't drink. Two out of three ain't bad."

As far as Bobby, one of three children Bob Crane had while married to his high school sweetheart Anne, was concerned, no real son would degrade a father's memory by selling such smut. Funny thing is, in 1979 Bobby wrote a story for stroke mag Partner in which he detailed his old man's porno habits: "He had tapes of women in every major city blowing him off, sucking, licking, creaming, coming, fucking, smiling." Bobby also did some consulting for Schrader and even appears in the film as a journalist interviewing Kinnear. Scotty was not even allowed to see the film at a July screening in Los Angeles; when he phoned from the Sony studios parking lot that afternoon, he was nearly in tears.

One need only look at Scotty to see his father's face--before half of it was beaten beyond recognition, anyway--staring back at you. Scotty has his old man's same grin and same eyes. How can anyone believe he's not the offspring of Colonel Hogan? "Bobby's been saying since my father died I am not Bob Crane's son," Scotty says. "And I remained silent, but now it's gone too far." He refers also to a recent New York Times Magazine story in which writer Lynn Hirschberg says Scotty is out of work and has Bobby saying his father had a vasectomy three years before Scotty was born, suggesting his old man couldn't have sired Scotty. "My father had a vasectomy in 1968, and Scotty was born in 1971," Bobby told The Times. "That's all I have to say."

Scotty has spent the past year telling journalists what an abomination Schrader's movie is--a docudrama riddled with lies. He takes umbrage with a scene in which his father shows off his penile implant, though the autopsy report makes no mention of such enlargements. He is furious with scenes in which his mother, Patricia Olson, is shown drinking heavily; Scotty and her attorney say she is allergic to hard alcohol. He is outraged by scenes implying his old man was into bondage. And he and his mother, speaking through attorney Lee Blackman, are particularly incensed over the movie's portrayal of their marriage. The movie suggests that Patricia was violent and that she and Bob were well on their way to being divorced when Bob was murdered. Blackman and Scotty say that's nonsense, that the two had reconciled and that Bob was in therapy, trying to get over his addiction to porn--watching it, making it, all of it.