By Matthew Hendley
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Being Colonel Robert Hogan had its advantages for the wisecracking Lothario. One time, according to Mark Dawson, Crane showed Mark's dad, Richard Dawson, the back seat of his car. It was littered with hundreds of pornographic photographs, many of them showing women performing fellatio on Crane.
Crane wasn't satisfied with documenting his sexual escapades: He wanted to look especially well-endowed as his cameras whirred. Crane paid a doctor to surgically place implants in his penis, probably in the late 1960s, Carpenter says.
Carpenter instructed Crane in how to use a VCR. Wherever Crane went, his machinery would follow. In Texas, several months before the murder, the two friends made a videotape of themselves having sex with a woman Crane had picked up.
While his sex life was flourishing, Crane's professional career went into a downward spiral after Hogan's Heroes ended in 1971. The Bob Crane Show, in which he played a 40-year-old insurance man who returns to medical school, was canceled after 14 weeks. A few days before he was murdered at the age of 49, Crane summed up his post-Hogan's Heroes years in an interview with a Phoenix radio station: "Since we stopped filming, I don't think I've been in the right place at the right time."
A television one-hit wonder, Bob Crane in the mid-1970s was forced to hit the dinner-theatre circuit to earn a living.
@body:Bob Crane's road show as the star of the play Beginner's Luck meshed perfectly into the fabric of Carpenter's life. Then working for the Akai Corporation as its national service manager, Carpenter traveled often.
Throughout the 1970s, Carpenter often arranged his travel schedule to visit his actor-friend on the road. There, he would combine a little work with what he hoped would be a lot of pleasure.
Carpenter usually would fly in during the last week of Crane's engagement somewhere. He had good reason for that: Crane's name had continued to work its magic with women, even after Hogan's Heroes ended.
By the end of a run, Crane often had enough ladies lined up to share with Carpenter. He often would introduce Carpenter as his "manager," a sure-fire way to increase the attention of a potential female score.
But Carpenter says he struck out sexually on his last trip to Arizona. That disappointed him, especially in light of how well Crane had done during his stay. If police reports are correct, Crane had sex with at least eight women in the last three weeks of his life.
By Carpenter's account, his last chance for sexual success during the Arizona trip failed on the night of Crane's murder. Carpenter had met a 20-year-old woman through Crane.
The night before Carpenter's scheduled return to Los Angeles, Carole Newell joined the two men and another new Crane acquaintance at Scottsdale's Safari restaurant. Newell says she went with Carpenter to his hotel room after the meal, at about 2 a.m. on the morning of June 29, 1978.
Carpenter put on his usual array of moves, but Newell wasn't swayed and demanded a ride home. By the accounts of both, Carpenter complied.
He says he then returned to his hotel, about a half-mile from Crane's apartment, and telephoned the actor. First, he asked if Crane had scored with his date, Carol Baare. Crane said he hadn't. Then, Carpenter adds, he told Crane he'd find his own way to the airport later that morning, because he knew Crane had other plans.
The two friends soon said good night to each other, Carpenter maintains.
About 12 hours later, Crane was found dead.
Authorities contend Carpenter waited until Bob Crane fell asleep after the early morning breakfast, then grabbed a camera tripod and bashed it into the left side of his friend's head, killing him almost instantly. They say Carpenter then tied an electrical cord around Crane's neck to ensure his death, and fled.
@body:Even if a jury acquits John Carpenter of murdering Bob Crane, Carpenter's life has been effectively ruined by what has happened.
Late last year, Carpenter lost his hard-earned job as Kenwood USA's national service manager. Kenwood had allowed him to take a six-month emergency leave of absence after his arrest last June. But his boss told him, regretfully, that the firm couldn't hold his position open any longer.
Carpenter is learning that potential new employers are loath to hire 64-year-old defendants in pending murder trials. His wife, Diana, hasn't worked for years, and the couple's once-healthy bank account has shrunk to almost nothing. She's been forced to sell personal items for cash, including her husband's treasured gun collection, some of her beloved dolls and her diamond wedding ring.
Carpenter fears he and his wife will lose their home in Torrance if things continue as they have.
"I worked very hard to get what I got," he says. "No one got me to where I was except for me. We're middle-class, and we like it that way. Whatever happens, it's going to be just like starting over."
Carpenter has also been hit with the double whammy of being labeled a murderer and a child molester by authorities. Late last year, he pleaded no contest in Long Beach, California, to charges of sexually fondling a 10-year-old girl who was visiting the home of his longtime mistress.