Birthday: January 28, 1910
Died At Age: 63
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Also Known As: Johann Banner
Born Country: Austria
Born in: Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine
Famous as: Actor
Spouse/Ex-: Renee Christine Gemenne Muhr, Illa Raudnitz
Died on: January 28, 1973
place of death: Vienna, Austria
Cause of Death: Abdominal Hemorrhage
Ancestry: Austrian Americans
education: University Of Vienna
Who was John Banner?
John Banner was an Austrian born American actor known for his work on TV as well as on the big screen. He is best remembered for his role of Master Sergeant Schultz in the American situational comedy series ‘Hogan’s Heroes’. Born in Vienna, Austria, Banner initially wanted to be a lawyer though he later decided to pursue a career in acting instead. He did his first significant role in the romantic comedy film ‘Once upon a Honeymoon’. The film was nominated for an Oscar. Another one of his major appearances on the big screen was in the action film ‘Seven Miles from Alcatraz’. Throughout his career, he appeared mostly in supporting roles in movies like ‘The Blue Angel’, ‘The Story of Ruth’, and ‘Hitler’. Coming to his television career, he is remembered for his regular role in the sci-fi TV series ‘Rocky Jones, Space Ranger’. He also played an important role in ‘Hogan’s Heroes,’ a TV series set in a German POW camp. His role of Sergeant Hans Schultz earned him massive popularity. Banner passed away at the age of sixty-three after suffering from abdominal hemorrhage.
Childhood & Early Life
John Banner was born as Johann Banner to Jewish parents in Vienna, Austria, on 28th January 1910. Not much is known about his parents or childhood.
Since Banner aspired to be a lawyer, he attended the University of Vienna where he studied law. However, he later changed his mind and decided to pursue a career in acting instead.
He emigrated to the United States in 1938 and gradually learned the English language. During the Second World War, he served in the United States Army Air Corps from 1942 to 1945.
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After making multiple appearances on the Broadway stage, John Banner began his career on the big screen. He initially appeared uncredited in several films, such as ‘Spring Parade’ and ‘Pacific Blackout’.
His first credited role was seen in the 1942 romantic comedy film ‘Once upon a Honeymoon’. The film was directed by Leo McCarey and earned an Oscar nomination in the category of ‘Best Sound Editing’. Other films he appeared in over the next few years include ‘Seven Miles from Alcatraz’ (1942), ‘The Fallen Sparrow’ (1943), ‘To the Victor’ (1948), ‘Guilty of Treason’ (1950).
Banner also started gaining popularity for his works on TV. He played a supporting role in the sci-fi TV series ‘Rocky Jones, Space Ranger’. The show aired in 1954 from February to November. Other TV shows he appeared in include ‘Fireside Theatre’, ‘The Virginian’, and ‘The Baileys of Balboa’.
In 1953, John Banner appeared in the film ‘The Juggler’ which was about the life of a holocaust survivor. It was directed by Edward Dmytryk. He next played a supporting role in the 1956 drama film ‘Never Say Goodbye’. He portrayed Colonel Rudolf Hoss in the 1961 film ‘Operation Eichmann.’ It was a fictionalized account of the life of Nazi leader Adolf Eichmann.
He also played an important role in the American film ’20,000 Eyes’ in 1961. It was directed by Jack Leewood. The following year, he portrayed Nazi leader Gregor Strasser in the film ‘Hitler’ which was about the life of the infamous Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. The movie was directed by Stuart Heisler. In 1963, he played a supporting role in the thriller film ‘The Yellow Canary’.
He gained fame and appreciation for his role in the TV series ‘Hogan’s Heroes’. It aired from 1965 to 1971. It earned twelve Emmy nominations out of which it won two. Banner also played an important role in the TV series ‘The Chicago Teddy Bears’. It aired from September 1971 to December 1971. Banner’s last work on the big screen was the 1970 film ‘Togetherness’ in which he portrayed the role of Hipolitas Mollnar.
Among John Banner’s works on the big screen, one prominent performance was his role of Gregor Strasser in the 1962 film ‘Hitler’. Directed by Stuart Heisler, the film starred Richard Basehart in the titular role of Adolf Hitler. Aside from Banner, other actors in the film included Cordula Trantow, Maria Emo, Martin Kosleck, John Wengraf and Narda Onyx. The film mostly focused on Hitler’s personal life.
Banner’s role in the TV series ‘Hogan’s Heroes’ can be considered his most notable work in his entire career. Created by Bernard Fein and Albert S Ruddy, the series aired from 1965 to 1971, covering six seasons. The story revolved around a group of Allied prisoners running a Special Operations Group from a POW camp. Banner played the role of a German soldier named Sergeant Hans Schultz. Other actors in the series included Bob Crane, Werner Klemperer, Robert Clary and Richard Dawson.
John Banner married actress Illa Raudnitz in October 1940. This marriage ended in a divorce after a few years. He then married Renee Christine Gemenne Muhr in June 1965. They remained together till Banner’s death.
Banner passed away on 28 January 1973—his 63rd birthday—from an abdominal hemorrhage. He left behind his wife Christine.