Werner Klemperer

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Werner Klemperer
WernerKlemperer975 headcrop.jpg
Klemperer in December 1998.
Born(1920-03-22)March 22, 1920
Cologne, Germany
DiedDecember 6, 2000(2000-12-06) (aged 80)
Manhattan, New York City, U.S.
Cause of death
OccupationActor, musician
Years active1947–95
Spouse(s)Susan Dempsey (m. ?–1968; divorced)
Louise Troy (m. 1969–1975; divorced)
Kim Hamilton (m. 1997–2000; his death)
ParentsOtto Klemperer
Johanna Geisler
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Werner Klemperer
WernerKlemperer975 headcrop.jpg
Klemperer in December 1998.
Born(1920-03-22)March 22, 1920
Cologne, Germany
DiedDecember 6, 2000(2000-12-06) (aged 80)
Manhattan, New York City, U.S.
Cause of death
OccupationActor, musician
Years active1947–95
Spouse(s)Susan Dempsey (m. ?–1968; divorced)
Louise Troy (m. 1969–1975; divorced)
Kim Hamilton (m. 1997–2000; his death)
ParentsOtto Klemperer
Johanna Geisler

Werner Klemperer (March 22, 1920 – December 6, 2000)[1] was a German-born American stage, film, and television actor and musician.

Born in Cologne, North Rhine-Westphalia, 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.

Early life[edit]

Klemperer was born in Cologne, North Rhine-Westphalia, 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).[2] His father was Catholic and his mother was Lutheran.[3] Klemperer was a violinist and an accomplished concert pianist.[4] He broadened his acting career by performing as an operatic baritone and a singer in Broadway musicals. He can be seen playing in the violin section of the New Philharmonia Orchestra on the EMI Classics DVD Otto Klemperer – Beethoven Symphony No. 9. at a concert performed on November 8, 1964, at London's Royal Albert Hall. He can also be heard as the Speaker in Arnold Schoenberg's Gurrelieder, in a 1979 live performance with the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

The Klemperer family emigrated to the United States in 1935, settling in Los Angeles, where Otto Klemperer took up work as a conductor. Werner Klemperer began acting in high school and enrolled in acting courses at the Pasadena Playhouse[1] 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 end of the war, he worked on Broadway before moving into television.


Klemperer's first major film role was as a psychiatrist in Alfred Hitchcock's The Wrong Man (1956). He then 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 judge 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 which aired on CBS. During this time he made three guest appearances on Perry Mason: in 1958 he played murder victim Stefan Riker in "The Case of the Desperate Daughter;" in 1963 he played Ulric Zenas in "The Case of the Two-Faced Turn-a-bout;" and in 1964 he played Inspector Hurt in "The Case of a Place Called Midnight."

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 horribly screechy 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.

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 the role of 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".

Later career[edit]

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. He also made occasional guest appearances on television dramas, and took part in a few studio recordings, notably a version of Arnold Schönberg's Gurre-Lieder with the Boston Symphony and Seiji Ozawa, in 1979. 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 appeared in several episodes of the news/talk show Politically Incorrect.[5] For many years, Klemperer was an elected member of the council of Actors' Equity Association, and was a vice president of the union at the time of his death.[6]

Personal life[edit]

Klemperer was the father of two children, Mark and Erika, with his first wife, Susan Dempsey.[7] 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 for the prior twenty-one years.[8] They remained married until Klemperer's death. Hamilton died on September 16, 2013, aged 81.


Klemperer died of cancer according to John A. Anderson, his manager, on December 6, 2000, aged 80, at his home in Manhattan, New York City. He was cremated and his ashes were scattered at sea. He was survived by his wife Kim Hamilton and two children.[9]

Selected filmography[edit]

1956Flight to Hong KongBendesh
1956Death of a ScoundrelHerbert Bauman (Clementi's lawyer)
1956The Wrong ManDr. BannayUncredited
1957IstanbulPaul Renkov
19575 Steps to DangerDr. Simmons
1957Kiss Them for MeLt. Walter Wallace
1958The High Cost of LovingJoseph Jessup
1958The GoddessJoe Wilsey
1958HouseboatHarold Messner
1961Operation EichmannAdolf Eichmann
1961Judgment at NurembergEmil Hahn
1962Escape from East BerlinWalter Brunner
1964Youngblood HawkeMr. Leffer
1965Dark IntruderProf. Malaki
1965Ship of FoolsLt. Huebner
1968The Wicked Dreams of Paula SchultzKlaus
1991The Cabinet of Dr. RamirezFat Man Looking for a Tax Break
1992Queen EstherHaman (voice)Direct-to-video release

Have Gun - Will TravelEtienne Episode: "Fragile"

1951-1952Goodyear Television PlayhouseVarious roles2 episodes
1953The Secret Files of Captain VideoMeisterEpisode: "The Box"
1955Studio 57DubrovSegment: "Win a Cigar"
1955CrusaderWilhelm LeichnerEpisode: "The Bargain"
1955Climax!2 episodes
1956Alfred Hitchcock PresentsProfessor/Captain GreishamEpisode: "Safe Conduct"
1957Navy LogLudwigEpisode: " After You, Ludwig"
1957Wire ServiceKrylovEpisode: "The Washington Stars"
1957General Electric TheaterMullerEpisode: "The Questioning Note"
1957M SquadHeinrich RonnEpisode: "Face of Evil"
1957MaverickAlex JenningsEpisode: "Comstock Conspiracy"
1958Perry MasonStefan RikerEpisode: "The Case of the Desperate Daughter"
1958Studio OneDorfmannEpisode: "Balance of Terror"
1958The Thin ManAlbertEpisode: "The Pre-Incan Caper"
1958GunsmokeClifton BunkerEpisode: "Sunday Supplement"
1958The Court of Last ResortMaloneEpisode: "The Allen Cutler Case"
1958The Silent ServiceCaptain Lieutenant PrienEpisode: "U-47 in Scapa Flow"
1959Behind Closed DoorsSlavkoEpisode: "Crypto 40"
1959Steve CanyonLinzEpisode: "Iron Curtain"
1959The Third ManHolz DonnerEpisode: "The Third Medaillon"
1959Alcoa Presents: One Step BeyondHerr BautmannEpisode: "The Haunted U-Boat"
1959How to Marry a MillionaireMr. ObermeyerEpisode: "Gwen's Secret"
1960The AlaskansBaronEpisode: "Gold Fever"
1960Overland TrailArnold BraunEpisode: "Vigilantes of Montana"
1960Alcoa TheatreColonel HanningEpisode: "The Observer"
1960RawhideKesselEpisode: "Incident of the Music Maker"
1960Men into SpaceMajor KralenkoEpisode: "Flare Up"
1960The UntouchablesJan TornekEpisode: "Purple Gang"
1960ThrillerMr. ClarkEpisode: "Man in the Middle"
1961The IslandersMichel SeratiEpisode: "The Pearls of Ratu"
1961Have Gun – Will TravelLeander JohnsonEpisode: "The Uneasy Grave"
1961Adventures in ParadiseKuberliEpisode: "Survival"
1962CheckmateFranz LederEpisode: "An Assassin Arrives, Andante"
1963Perry MasonUlric Zenas"Episode: The Case of the Two-Faced Turn-a-bout"
1963The Lloyd Bridges ShowGustavsenEpisode: "The Wonder of Wanda"
196377 Sunset StripSchtiekelEpisode: "Escape to Freedom"
1963The DakotasCol. von BleistEpisode: "Trial at Grand Forks"
1963My Three SonsProfessor Engel2 episodes
1963GE TrueK. H. Frank2 episodes
1964Perry MasonHurtEpisode: "The Case of a Place Called Midnight"
1964The Man from U.N.C.L.E.Laslo KurasovEpisode: "The Project Strigas Affair"
1964Voyage to the Bottom of the SeaCregarEpisode: "The Blizzard Maker"
1965Voyage to the Bottom of the SeaBrainwasher (voice)Episode: "The Saboteur"
1965Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler TheatreColonel WerthaEpisode: "Escape into Jeopardy"
1965-1971Hogan's HeroesColonel Wilhelm Klink168 episodes
1966Lost in SpaceBolixEpisode: "All That Glitters"
1966BatmanColonel Klink (uncredited cameo)Episode: "It's How You Play the Game"
1968Rowan & Martin's Laugh-InColonel Wilhelm KlinkEpisode #2.6
1969Wake Me When the War Is OverMayor Erich MuellerTelevision film
1972Night GalleryLudwig AsperEpisode: "Green Fingers/The Funeral/The Tune in Dan's Cafe"
1972The Doris Day ShowJacques MoreauEpisode: "Gowns by Louis"
1972Assignment: MunichInsp. HoffmanTelevision film
1972Love, American StyleHarold BaxterSegment: "Love and the Unbearable Fiance"
1973McMillan & WifeDr. Ernest BleekerEpisode: "The Devil You Say"
1977The Rhinemann ExchangeFranz AltmullerMiniseries
1978TabithaHenry HastingsEpisode: "Tabitha's Party"
1979The Love BoatMr. PerkinsEpisode: "The Grass Is Always Greener..."
1980Steve Martin: Comedy Is Not PrettyPlatoTelevision special
1981Vega$Siegfried KlausEpisode: "Heist"
1981The Return of the Beverly HillbilliesC.D. MedfordTelevision film
1983Matt HoustonFelix RandolphEpisode: "The Purrfect Crime"
1986Mr. SunshineDean2 episodes
1988American ExperiencePrince Maximilian of BavariaEpisode: "Views of a Vanishing Frontier"
1992Law & OrderWilliam UngerEpisode: "Star Struck"
1993The SimpsonsHomer's Guardian Angel as Colonel Klink (voice)Episode: "The Last Temptation of Homer"


  1. ^ a b Weinraub, Bernard "Werner Klemperer, Klink in 'Hogan's Heroes,' Dies at 80" New York Times (December 8, 2000)
  2. ^ Klemperer was a cousin of Victor Klemperer.
  3. ^ http://www.hogansheroesfanclub.com/articleWernerKlempererCaptainSpaulding.php
  4. ^ Erickson, Hal "Werner Klemperer" (Allmovie biography)
  5. ^ "Politically Incorrect With Bill Maher : Episode Guide". MSN. Retrieved June 26, 2011. 
  6. ^ Woo, Elaine "Werner Klemperer; Played Col. Klink in ‘Hogan’s Heroes’" Los Angeles Times (December 8, 2008)
  7. ^ "Klemperer Likes Trend in Which Heroes Have Faults". St. Joseph News-Press. May 29, 1966. p. 6C. Retrieved January 14, 2013. 
  8. ^ Robe, Alan K. (2007-04-13). "Kim Hamilton interview with Alan K. Rode - Pt 1 and Pt 2". Film Noir Foundation. Retrieved 2013-10-13. 
  9. ^ "Werner Klemperer; portrayed Col. Klink". Reading Eagle. December 8, 2000. p. B6. Retrieved January 14, 2013. 

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