|Born:||22 March 1920|
|Deathplace:||New York City, New York, USA|
|Spouse:||Kim Hamilton (1997-2000)|
Louise Troy (m. 1969)
Susan Dempsey (div. 1968)
|Emmyawards:||Outstanding Supporting Actor - Comedy Series |
1968 Hogan's Heroes
1969 Hogan's Heroes
Born in Cologne to a musical family, Klemperer was the son of the renowned conductor Otto Klemperer and Johanna Geisler, a soprano. Klemperer was musically talented, being 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 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.
His father being Jewish, Klemperer fled the Nazis with his family in 1935; they made their way to Los Angeles, where his father had a conducting post. Klemperer began acting in high school and enrolled in acting courses in Pasadena before joining the United States Army to fight 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 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 film Operation Eichmann.
Klemperer is remembered as Colonel Wilhelm Klink: the bumbling, cowardly and self-serving Commandant of Stalag 13 on Hogan's Heroes, which ran on CBS from 1965 to 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 again in 1969. It was on the set of Hogan's Heroes that he met his second wife, actress Louise Troy, who was making a guest appearance. They fell in love and married in 1969, but divorced in 1975.
Between 1970 and 1978, Klemperer owned a Mercedes-Benz 6.9 V8. When parked on the set of Hogan's Heroes, his co-star Bob Crane joked about it being "The Colonel's staff car". After Crane's murder, Werner sold the car because it brought back too many memories of his friend.
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 Gurrelieder in 1979. In 1981, he appeared, to critical and audience raves, as Prince Orlofsky in Seattle Opera's production of Die Fledermaus. In 1992, he made a guest appearance in an episode of Law & Order, "Starstruck," as the father of a 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.
In 1997, Klemperer married his third wife, African-American television actress Kim Hamilton. On December 6, 2000, Klemperer died of cancer in New York, at the age of 80. His ashes were scattered at sea.