JOHN BANNER Biography - Actors and Actresses


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Name: John Banner                                                                     
Born: 28 January 1910                                                                 
Died: 28 January 1973                                                                 
John Banner (January 28, 1910, Vienna – January 28, 1973, Vienna) was a Jewish       
Austrian actor. Ironically, he is best known for his role as a World War II           
German soldier, the comedic Sgt. Hans Schultz on the television situation comedy       
Hogan's Heroes. Schultz was constantly encountering evidence that the inmates of       
his Stalag prison camp were planning mayhem, and he was aware that he would be         
better off if he pretended ignorance: thus his constant catchphrase "I know           
nothing! Nothing!" One episode of "Hogan's Heroes" is titled "At Last:                 
Schultz Knows Something".                                                             
Banner was born in Vienna, Austria. Because of his Jewish heritage, he was             
transported to a concentration camp before being released out of occupied             
Germany. Fortunately for him, Banner's time in the concentration camp was during       
the early stages of Nazi rule, when Jewish extermination policies were not yet         
fully implemented.                                                                     
In 1938, Banner, a trim 180 pounds, worked with an acting troupe in Switzerland       
and found he could not return to his native Austria because he was a Jew. He           
went to America and though unable to speak a word of English was hired as a           
Master of Ceremonies. Banner learned his words phonetically and soon mastered         
the English language.                                                                 
Before Banner came to acting, he studied law for two semesters. His feature film       
credits include over 40 films and his first was Pacific Blackout. He was usually       
cast as a Nazi spy because of his accent and teutonic features. This was               
especially hard for Banner whose family had been wiped out in Nazi Concentration       
In the 1950's Banner's weight had gone up to 280 pounds, and he made over 70           
television appearances in the next two decades, including Mr. Ed, The Lucy Show,       
Perry Mason, The Partridge Family, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (The Neptune Affair         
1964). In 1954 he played Bavarro in the Rocky Jones, Space Ranger series. Banner       
had previously played other Germans, Rudolph Hess in Operation Eichmann (1961)         
and Gregor Strasser in Hitler in 1962. He also had a small role in a color             
episode of Adventures of Superman, playing a somewhat hapless character that to       
some extent anticipated his Sgt. Schultz characterization. Banner was loved by         
all the cast of Hogan's Heroes (as told by those still alive on the recently           
issued DVD sets) and without effort became the main character of every scene he       
played in. He told TV Guide in 1967 that he saw Schultz as a representative of         
goodness in every generation.                                                         
Banner died of an abdominal hemorrhage on his 63rd birthday in Vienna. He was         
buried at the cemetery in Mauer in Liesing, the 23rd Bezirk of Vienna. His grave       
can be found under Gruppe 57 Reihe 2 Nummer 26.