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Hogan's Heroes: The Ghost Extras

Cheryl enjoys writing articles that give readers information on popular television series and characters.

Ghost extras in the crowd

Ghost extras in the crowd

Hidden in plain sight

Hogan's Heroes aired on CBS from 1965-to 1971 and now two episodes can be seen weeknights on MeTV from 9:00-9:30 and 9:30-10:00 PM. As I have been enjoying the reruns I have noticed something I did not previously pay attention to during the series original run. The sitcom is reminiscent of high school where the popular kids are front and center and everyone else seems to fade into the background or gangs where there is a pecking order. During the six-year run of the show, a lot of extras were utilized but rarely did they speak or the same faces show up in other episodes. These men are shown when a headcount is asked to make certain no prisoners have escaped and you see them beside or behind the main characters. They often have their hands in their pockets and seem to be shivering from the cold. Most times they are simply lounging on their bunks or standing around passively in the background, waiting, watching, and listening as Colonel Hogan (Bob Crane) and his four main Heroes discuss their latest scheme against the Nazis.

Hogan and the main gang

Hogan and the main gang

Insignificant POWs

These actors who like Sergeant Shultz appear to see nothing and know nothing and definitely say nothing. They are considered Ghost Extras because they blend in with the scenery and do not have anything to do with the main plot. Hogan's four right-hand assistants are Lebeau (Robert Clary), Kinchloe (Ivan Dixon), Carter (Larry Hovis), and Newkirk, (Richard Dawson). The five of them stick together and rarely interact with the other prisoners of war. Likewise, the men in the background seem to know their place and never approach the main characters. The extras have sullen looks on their faces which lends credibility to the fact that they are in a POW camp. They rub their hands together and shrug their shoulders indicating they are not accustomed to the cold. If you pay attention to each episode you will notice that these seemingly insignificant soldiers are of varied ethnicities which also gives the camp a more realistic look.


Gost extra in the lineup

Gost extra in the lineup

Limited interaction

Once in a while few of the extras assist Hogan but only on the periphery. These unknown and oh so silent soldiers from time to time may be lookouts or signal that there is danger or that the coast is clear to move forward with an operation. These men never do any missions outside of the barracks with Hogan and his top aides Practically 99% of the missions only involve the five principal players and when Colonel Klink ( Werner Klemperer) and Sergent Shultz (John Banner) come around these other prisoners are ignored as if they do not exist. part. The Website ."It with the following doesn’t make sense that valuable “first teamers” like LeBeau, Newkirk, Carter and Kinchloe are, say, digging a new tunnel extension while the no-names are reading magazines in their bunks." When Ivan Dixon left his role of Kinch after season 5 he was replaced by Kenneth Washington as Richard Baker. No explanation was given and Baker had not been previously seen as a Ghost Extra. This is probably because Hogan's Heroes was not serialized and each episode stood on its own. There was never any mention of what took place in previous episodes.

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Hogan and his top men

Hogan and his top men

Oh the possibilities

The Main Characters Do Everything is possibly the best explanation for why the extras were not utilized. Even so, the Ghost Extra's probably are a diversion to give the illusion that everything is running smoothly in Stallog 13, They may occasionally fill in when Shultz makes a headcount to ensure there has been no escape. In the real world, these men most likely would be digging the tunnels and doing what is considered as the grunt work instead of Hogan's trusted four. It would have been nice from time to time to see the same two or three extras assisting Newkirk, Kinchloe, Carter, or Lebeau. It is highly unlikely that the background characters would have directly worked with Hogan. The bottom line is that these actors were doing the part they were hired for and they got paid just to stand around. It would be interesting to find out that some popular celebrity had been discovered as an extra on Hogan's Heroes. There were so many possibilities both on and off the screen but alas we shall never know the full story of the extra's in reel-time or real-time.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Cheryl E Preston

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