Sigrid Valdis: 'Pure vamp' of 'Hogan's Heroes'

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The Independent Online

Patricia Annette Olson (Sigrid Valdis), actress: born Bakersfield, California 21 September 1935; married 1958 George Ateyah (died 1967; one daughter), 1970 Bob Crane (died 1978; one son, one adopted daughter); died Anaheim, California 14 October 2007.

On-screen romance spilled over into real life when Sigrid Valdis married Bob Crane, the star of Hogan's Heroes, the sitcom about a Nazi prisoner-of-war camp with bungling German officers. Valdis played Hilda, voluptuous secretary to the camp's commanding officer Colonel Klink (Werner Klemperer) and was often seen smooching with the Allied commander Colonel Robert E. Hogan (Crane), virtually under Klink's nose.

Valdis, who joined the sitcom for its second series, in 1966, was immensely popular as Fräulein Hilda. The American network CBS promoted the actress a former model as a sex goddess and her character as pure vamp. Crane married Valdis on the set of the programme in 1970 and the actress was last seen in an episode screened in the United States in December of that year, halfway through the final run. She gave up acting altogether after the birth of a son and adoption of a daughter.

She was born Patricia Olson, of Swedish descent, in Bakersfield, California, in 1935. Raised in Los Angeles, she started a career as a model and, after marrying a businessman in the fashion industry, and giving birth to a daughter, she studied at the Stella Adler Theatre School, in New York.

Returning to California, Olson soon found herself in demand on television, appearing with the comedians Steve Allen, Phil Silvers, Sid Caesar and Red Skelton. She also demonstrated her dramatic talents in episodes of Perry Mason (1960), Burke's Law (1963) and The Wild Wild West (1965), as well as the film comedy Marriage on the Rocks (1965), the James Bond spoof Our Man Flint (1966) and the thriller The Venetian Affair (1967).

By this time, she had changed her professional name to Sigrid Valdis and impressed the producers of Hogan's Heroes, having had a one-off part as Klink's reluctant girlfriend, Gretchen, who danced with Hogan, during the sitcom's first series (1965). Following her return as Hilda and the death of her first husband, Valdis married Bob Crane.

The couple separated in 1977 but were reunited before Crane's death the following year. Crane was brutally murdered and revelations followed that he had been addicted to pornography and documented his sexual exploits on video. The 2002 film Auto Focus chronicled the sordid side of Crane's life, with Maria Bello playing Valdis, who opposed the picture's release.

Anthony Hayward