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An actor who fled Nazi Germany with his family at age 13 because of the his father's Jewish birth, the USA-raised Werner Klemperer (like so many other emigres from fascism) ironically spent a good part of his acting career playing Nazis. Klemperer is perhaps best recalled as the monocled, vain, and rather foolish Colonel Klink from the CBS sitcom, "Hogan's Heroes" (1965-1971), for which he won two Emmy Awards as Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy. Yet his resume contains such "serious" roles as Nazis in feature films like "Operation Eichmann" (1961), which cast him as the administrator of the Final Solution Adolf Eichmann, "Judgment at Nuremberg" (1961), in which he was one of the Nazi war criminals, and "Ship of Fools" (1965), as the compliant Lt. Heebner.
A talented musician who often drew parallels between performing comedy and playing an instrument, Klemperer devoted much of his career to narrating concerts with leading world orchestras. His work in that capacity was preserved for posterity with TV appearances like "The Mostly Mozart Festival" (PBS, 1990) and "Barenboim Conducts Strauss" (PBS, 1993) and in various recordings (e.g., with the Milwaukee Symphony in a 1994 performance of Berlioz's "Lelio").
This son of former Los Angeles Philharmonic conductor Otto Klemperer was raised in Southern California and received training at the Pasadena Playhouse where he made his professional debut in "The Trojan Horse." After military service in the US Army during WWII (during which he toured the Pacific in productions of "Macbeth" and "Arsenic and Old Lace"), Klemperer made his Broadway debut in 1947's "Heads of Tails." Eight years later, he was playing opposite Tallulah Bankhead in "Dear Charles." Following his TV success, Klemperer played "Cyrano de Bergerac" on stage in Los Angeles (1973), but perhaps enjoyed his greatest triumph in the 1988 revival of "Cabaret" earning a Tony nomination for his turn as the boarder Herr Schultz.
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