Banner (January 28, 1910–January 28, 1973) 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 catch phrase "I know nothing!
Nothing!" One episode of Hogan's Heroes is titled "At
Last: Schultz Knows Something."
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.
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.
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 Camps.
and Hogan's Heroes
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, "Schultz is not a Nazi. I see Schultz as the
representative of some kind of goodness in any generation."
died of an abdominal hemorrhage on his 63rd birthday in Vienna in
1973. 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