Actor John Banner

John Banner (born Johann Banner, January 28, 1910 – January 28, 1973) was an Austrian-born American actor, best known for his role as Sergeant Schultz in the situation comedy Hogan’s Heroes (1965–1971). Schultz, constantly encountering evidence that the inmates of his stalag were planning mayhem, frequently feigned ignorance with the catchphrase, “I see nothing! I hear nothing! I know nothing!” (or, more commonly as the series went on, “I know nothing, nothing!”).

Early years

Banner was born to Jewish parents in Stanislau, Austria-Hungary (now Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine). He studied for a law degree at the University of Vienna, but decided instead to become an actor. In 1938, when he was performing with an acting troupe in Switzerland, Adolf Hitler annexed Austria to Nazi Germany. Banner emigrated to the United States, where he rapidly learned English.

World War II

In 1942, Banner enlisted in the United States Army Air Forces, underwent basic training in Atlantic City and became a supply sergeant. He even posed for a recruiting poster (before he became portly). He served until 1945.

According to fellow Hogan’s Heroes actor Robert Clary, “John lost a lot of his family” to the Holocaust.



Banner appeared on Broadway three times: in a musical revue called From Vienna, which ran for two months in 1939; and in two comic plays, Pastoral, in which he had a leading role, but which had a very brief run in November 1939; and The Big Two, which ran briefly in January 1947. Early on, before he became fluent in English, Banner had to learn his lines phonetically.


Banner appeared in more than 40 feature films. His first credited role was a German captain in Once Upon a Honeymoon (1942), starring Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers. He also played a Gestapo agent in 20th Century Fox’s Chetniks! The Fighting Guerrillas (1943). His typecasting did not please him, but these were the only roles he was offered. Banner later learned that his family members who remained in Vienna had all perished in Nazi concentration camps.

From the 1950s

Banner made more than 70 television appearances between 1950 and 1970, including the Lone Ranger (episode “Damsels In Distress”, 1950), Sky King (premiere episode “Operation Urgent”, 1952), Sheena, Queen of the Jungle (“The Renegades”, 1955), Adventures of Superman (“The Man Who Made Dreams Come True”, 1957), Father Knows Best (“Brief Holiday”, 1957), Mister Ed (episode “Ed the Artist”, 1965), Thriller (episode “Portrait Without a Face”, 1961), The Untouchables (“Takeover”, 1962), My Sister Eileen, The Lucy Show, Perry Mason, The Partridge Family, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (“Hot Line”, 1964), Alias Smith and Jones, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (“The Neptune Affair”, 1964), and Hazel (“The Investor”, 1965).

In the late 1950s, a still-slim Banner portrayed Peter Tchaikovsky’s supervisor on a Disneyland anthology series about the composer’s life. This followed a scene with fellow Hogan’s Heroes actor Leon Askin (General Burkhalter) as Nikolai Rubinstein. In 1953, he had a bit part in the Kirk Douglas feature film The Juggler as the witness of an attack on an Israeli policeman by a disturbed concentration camp survivor.

In 1954, he had a regular role playing Bavarro in the children’s science-fiction TV series Rocky Jones, Space Ranger. Two years later, he played a train conductor in the episode “Safe Conduct” of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, appearing with future co-star Werner Klemperer (Colonel Klink in Hogan’s Heroes), who played a spy. He also played Nazi villains in several later films – the German town mayor in The Young Lions (1958), Rudolf Höss in Operation Eichmann (1961), and Gregor Strasser in Hitler (1962). The year before the premiere of Hogan’s Heroes, Banner portrayed a World War II German “home guard” soldier in 36 Hours (1964), starring James Garner. Although it was a serious role in a war drama, Banner still displayed some of the affable nature that became his defining character trait the following year in Hogan’s Heroes. By coincidence, during the final moments of 36 Hours, John Banner’s character meets up with a border guard played by Sig Ruman, who had portrayed another prisoner-of-war camp chief guard named Sergeant Schulz in the 1953 film Stalag 17, starring William Holden.

The comedy series Hogan’s Heroes, in which Banner played Sergeant Hans Schultz, the role for which he is most often remembered, debuted on the CBS Television Network in 1965. According to Banner, before he met and married his French wife Christine, he weighed 178 pounds (81 kg); he claimed her good cooking was responsible for his weight gain to 260 pounds (120 kg), which helped him land the part.[citation needed] The character of Schultz is a bumbling, but ultimately lovable German guard at a World War II prisoner-of-war camp. The camp is used by the prisoners as a secret staging area for sabotage and intelligence gathering. Schultz is forever becoming indebted to the prisoners, which they use to the Allies’ advantage for their continuing espionage work. His main goal is to avoid any trouble with his superiors, which often leads him to ignore the clandestine activities of the prisoners. (On those occasions, he often used his catchphrase “I hear nothing, I see nothing, I know nothing!” As the series went on, this became simply “I know nothing. Nothing”!). The genesis of the line could be from Banner’s appearance on the TV crime drama The Untouchables, in the episode “The Takeover” (1961), when confronted by a gangster, he nervously responds with his future classic line. Another signature phrase used was “Jolly joker!”, when one of the POWs would make a joke at his expense.

Banner was loved not only by the viewers, but also by the cast, as recalled by cast members during the Hogan’s Heroes DVD commentary. The Jewish Banner defended his character, telling TV Guide in 1967, “Schultz is not a Nazi. I see Schultz as the representative of some kind of goodness in any generation.” Banner appeared in every episode of the series, which ran for six years.

In 1968, during the series’ run, Banner co-starred with fellow Hogan’s Heroes actors Werner Klemperer, Leon Askin, and Bob Crane in the Cold War comedy The Wicked Dreams of Paula Schultz, starring Elke Sommer in the title role.

After Hogan’s Heroes was cancelled in 1971, Banner starred as the inept gangster Uncle Latzi in a short-lived television situation comedy, The Chicago Teddy Bears. His last acting appearance was in the March 17, 1972, episode of The Partridge Family. He then retired to France with his Paris-born second wife.


Less than one year after moving back to Europe, while visiting friends in Vienna, Banner died on his 63rd birthday following an abdominal hemorrhage.



Year Title Role Notes
1954 Crash of the Moons Bavarro
1940 Spring Parade Cymbalist Uncredited
1941 Accent on Love Austrian Tenant Uncredited
1941 It Started with Eve Party Guest Uncredited
1941 Pacific Blackout Unknown character Uncredited
1942 Desperate Journey Conductor on Empty Troop Train Uncredited
1942 Once Upon a Honeymoon German Capt. Von Kleinoch
1942 Seven Miles from Alcatraz Fritz Weinermann
1943 Immortal Sergeant Officer Uncredited
1943 Chetniks! The Fighting Guerrillas Gestapo Agent Uncredited
1943 The Moon Is Down Lt. Prackle Uncredited
1943 Tonight We Raid Calais Kurz Uncredited
1943 They Came to Blow Up America Gestapo Agent Uncredited
1943 This Land Is Mine German Sergeant Uncredited
1943 The Fallen Sparrow Anton
1946 Tangier Ferris Wheel Operator Uncredited
1946 Rendezvous 24 Ernst Uncredited
1946 Nocturne Charles Shawn Uncredited
1947 The Beginning or the End German Laboratory Assistant Uncredited
1948 My Girl Tisa Otto
1948 To the Victor Jacques Lestrac
1948 The Argyle Secrets Winter
1950 Guilty of Treason Dr. Szandor Deste
1950 King Solomon’s Mines Austin – Safari Client Uncredited
1951 Go for Broke! German Officer Uncredited
1951 The Star Said No Headwaiter at Mocambo’s Uncredited
1953 The Juggler Emile Halevy
1954 Executive Suite Henri (Stork Club Maître D’) Uncredited
1955 The Rains of Ranchipur Rashid Ali Khan Uncredited
1956 Never Say Goodbye Oskar, the Baker
1956 The Power and the Prize Mr. Ruloff Uncredited
1958 The Beast of Budapest Dr. Kovach
1958 The Young Lions German Town Mayor Uncredited
1958 Fräulein Ulick, German Health Dept. Uncredited
1959 The Blue Angel Principal Harter
1959 The Wonderful Country Ben Sterner
1960 The Story of Ruth King of Moab
1961 Operation Eichmann Rudolf Höss
1961 20,000 Eyes Kurt Novak
1961 One, Two, Three Krause / Haberdrasher Voice
1962 Hitler Gregor Strasser
1962 The Counterfeit Traitor Uncredited
1962 The Interns Dr. Duane
1963 The Yellow Canary Sam Skolman
1963 The Prize German Correspondent Uncredited
1964 Bedtime Story Burgermeister Uncredited
1964 Kisses for My President Vasiliovich Alexminitch Uncredited
1965 36 Hours Sgt. Ernst
1968 The Wicked Dreams of Paula Schultz Weber
1968 Star Spangled Salesman Chef Short
1970 Togetherness Hipolitas Mollnar


Year Title Role Episode(s)
1950 The Lone Ranger Von Baden “Damsels in Distress”
1954 Cavalcade of America Unknown character “Plume of Honor”
1954 The Public Defender Mr. Lambert Two episodes
1954 Rocky Jones, Space Ranger Bovaro Six episodes
1954 Adventures of the Falcon Coldroski “A Very Dangerous Bedfellow”
1954 The Whistler Van Loovan “Fatal Fraud”
1954–1955 Fireside Theatre Joe / Josef Novak / Amos Five episodes
1954–1955 Captain Midnight Van Ronk / Goronov Two episodes
1955 Schlitz Playhouse of Stars Morris Odvarka “The Cool One”
1955 Topper Ali / Henri Two episodes
1955 Damon Runyon Theater Sgt. Heinz “The Lacework Kid”
1955 The Adventures of Ellery Queen Buehler “Night Visitors”
1955–1956 NBC Matinee Theater Unknown characters Two episodes
1956 Sheena, Queen of the Jungle Brunner “The Renegades”
1956 Jungle Jim Wilhelm Camphausen “Wild Man of the Jungle”
1956 Alfred Hitchcock Presents Train Conductor “Safe Conduct”
1956 Private Secretary Sandor “Cat in the Hot Tin File”
1956 Screen Directors Playhouse Prefect of Police “The Dream”
1956 You Are There Nazi News Dealer “Hitler Invades Poland (September 1, 1939)”
1956 The Adventures of Hiram Holliday Count Courtebiche “Monaco Hermit Crab”
1956 Navy Log Unknown character “The Pilot”
1957 The Gray Ghost Major Von Borcke “An Eye for an Eye”
1957 Father Knows Best Artist “Brief Holiday”
1957 Conflict Unknown character “Blind Drop: Warsaw”
1957 The Gale Storm Show Hans Schlosser “Swiss Miss”
1957 The Lineup Unknown character “The Bay Meadows Case”
1957 Letter to Loretta Hans “Louise”
1957 Adventures of Superman Bronsky “The Man Who Made Dreams Come True”
1958 Studio 57 Unknown character “A Source of Irritation”
1958 Telephone Time Unknown character “War Against War”
1958 Man Without a Gun Max Brenner “Headline”
1958 Cimarron City P. B. Minscher “I, the People”
1958 The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin Baron Carlisle “Grandpappy’s Love Affair”
1958 Behind Closed Doors Prosecutor Hoxa “A Cover of Art”
1959 Shotgun Slade Corneilus “Barbed Wire Keep Out”
1959 Walt Disney’s Disneyland Office Supervisor “The Peter Tchaikovsky Story”
1959 The Third Man Steiner “Castle in Spain”
1960 This Is the Life Carl Brandt “Red Tape”
1960 Alcoa Presents: One Step Beyond Dr. Molhaus “The Peter Hurkos Story: Part 1”
1960 Markham Police Commissioner Langres “The Cruelest Thief”
1960 My Sister Eileen Unknown character “Ruth Becomes a Waitress”
1960 The Roaring 20’s Otto Bauer “The Velvet Frame”
1960 Michael Shayne Dr. Hess “The Poison Pen Club”
1960 Perry Mason A. Tobler “The Case of the Nine Dolls”
1960 Dante Baron Von Zenger “The Bavarian Barbarians”
1960 77 Sunset Strip Carl Neuman “The Antwerp Caper”
1960 The DuPont Show with June Allyson Popper “Silent Panic”
1960 Five Fingers Saphani “Final Dream”
1960–1963 The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis Chief / Dr. Otto von Schwering Two episodes
1961 Thriller Prof. Martin Vander Hoven “Portrait Without a Face”
1962 Outlaws Wint “The Dark Sunrise of Griff Kincaid”
1962 The Untouchables Franz Koenig “Takeover”
1962 The Dick Powell Show Vandever “Safari”
1963 The Wide Country The Doctor “The Quest for Jacob Blaufus”
1963 GE True Hipp “Black Market”
1963 Theatre of Stars General “Four Kings”
1963 The Donna Reed Show Cruikshank “Moon Shot”
1963–1964 The Virginian August the Head Waiter / Gus Schultz Two episodes
1964 Dr. Kildare Mr. Schultz “Goodbye, Mr. Jersey”
1964 The Alfred Hitchcock Hour Dutch Customs Man “Murder Case”
1964 My Three Sons Chief of Protocol “What’s the Princess Really Like?”
1964 The Lucille Ball Comedy Hour Guard Special
1964 Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea Russian Chairman “Hot Line”
1964 The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Dr. Foster “The Neptune Affair”
1964 The Cara Williams Show Zinzer “Cara, Girl Genius”
1964 The Rogues Steiner / Fat Man Two episodes
1964–1965 The Baileys of Balboa Hans Five episodes
1965 Hazel Mr. Mueller “The Investor”
1965 Mister Ed Professor Meyerhoff “Ed the Artist”
1965 Kraft Suspense Theatre Martin Rutke “The Safe House”
1965–1971 Hogan’s Heroes Sgt. Hans Georg Schultz / Wolfgang Brauner 168 episodes
1966 The Lucy Show Sgt. Schultz “Lucy and Bob Crane”
1967 The Red Skelton Show Sgt. Schultz “Freddie’s Heroes”
1971 The Chicago Teddy Bears Uncle Latzi 13 episodes
1972 The Doris Day Show Bruno “The Crapshooter Who Would Be King”
1972 Alias Smith and Jones Otto “Don’t Get Mad, Get Even”
1972 The Partridge Family Max Ledbetter “Who Is Max Ledbetter and Why Is He Saying All Those Terrible Things?” (final appearance)

External Links

Actor John Banner – Wikipedia

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