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Leon Askin

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Leon Askin

Leon Askin late in life

Leon Askin (September 18, 1907June 3, 2005) was an Austrian actor who played General der Infantrie Albert Burkhalter from 1965 to 1971 on the late 1960s American sitcom, Hogan's Heroes.

BiographyEdit

He was born Leon Aschkenasky in Vienna, Austria to a Jewish family during the last years of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Leon wanted to become an actor from an early age, and appeared on stage for the first time in 1926. After an audition before Walter Bruno Iltz, he performed in Düsseldorf, Germany from 1928 until 1933 when he was removed by the National Socialists or Nazis, because he was Jewish. During his time in Düsseldorf, he mainly performed for the Dumont Playhouse. In April, 1933, he was arrested by the SA and was later beaten up by members of the SS. It was from this beating that he got the prominent scar that can be seen on his face. After his release from jail, he moved to Paris, France.

While in Paris, he, along with several other immigrants, started a political cabaret called the Künstlerclub Paris-Vienne. It was very successful. In 1935, he returned to Vienna, where he helped form the ABC Theatre, where he worked as a cabaret artist and director. In this position, he helped to launch the career of the writer Jura Soyfer, among others. As a highly versatile stage actor, he was well-known as "the man of a thousand faces."

He lived happily in Vienna until the German Anschluss of 1938, returning to Paris after a narrow escape. After France's declaration of war against Germany in September, 1939, Leon, along with other refugees from the Nazi's regime, was placed in an interment camp by the French government. He was eventually released and in early 1940 moved to the United States, arriving in New York. After a rough time finding work, he began working for The Civic Theater in Washington, D.C. in the fall of that year. The Civic was closed shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and Leon joined the U.S. Army, becoming a member of the Army Air Corps. During the war, Leon wrote The Orientation Digest, which provided information for soldiers who were being sent overseas, changed his last name to Askin and became a US citizen. He served in the European Theater of Operations, ending the war with the rank of Technical Sergeant. He learned after the war that his parents had died in the Treblinka extermination camp.

After the war, he returned to New York, where he helped form the Veterans Memorial Stage theater group, which was made up of ex-U.S. Army actors, later being elected President of the group. He then start performing on the Broadway stage until called to Hollywood in 1952. Working first for Columbia Pictures, Leon was a film actor until his retirement in 1993, appearing in 60 films. As such, he mainly played foreign characters who spoke English with a heavy accent. Among his film work are: Road to Bali, One, Two, Three, What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?, The Perils of Pauline , The Wicked Dreams of Paula Schultz and Young Frankenstein. He also made guest appearances in several television shows including: Adventures of Superman, The Outer Limits, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., I Spy, Switch, Meeting of Minds (where he played both Karl Marx and Martin Luther), Three's Company and Happy Days. His greatest claim to fame, though, came when he played General der Infantrie Albert Burkhalter, who was the superior of Prison Camp Kommandant Wilhelm Klink on Hogan's Heroes.

While working in American films and television, Leon, unlike other Austrian exiles, also worked in his native country of Austria and in Germany, mainly on tours. He also worked in Japan and Italy. In 1994, he returned to Vienna, where he spent the last 10+ years of his life. He remained active until his death, performing in cabaret, as well as the Volksoper and Festwochen.

He was awarded the Austrian Cross of Honor for Science and Art in 1988; the Austrian Silver Cross of Honor in 1994; the Vienna's Gold Medal of Honor in 2002; and the Austrian Cross of Honor, First Class, for Science and Art also in 2002. He was also made an honorary Professor in 1996.

He died on June 3, 2005 in Vienna at the age of 97.

FilmographyEdit

Notable TV Guest AppearancesEdit

  • Kommissar Rex playing "Nachbar" in episode: "Furchtbare Wahrheit" (episode # 5.2) 4 February 1999
  • Diff'rent Strokes playing "Doshenko" in episode: "Russian Embassy" (episode # 7.18) 9 February 1985
  • Insight in episode: "The Game Room" 7 September 1984
  • Kottan ermittelt playing "Rudolf Wasservogel" in episode: "Smokey und Baby und Bär" (episode # 1.16) 11 February 1983
  • Kottan ermittelt playing "Rudolf Wasservogel" in episode: "Die Enten des Präsidenten" (episode # 1.15) 4 February 1983
  • Kottan ermittelt playing "Rudolf Wasservogel" in episode: "Genie und Zufall" (episode # 1.14) 28 January 1983
  • Disneyland playing "Dr. Gottlieb" in episode: "The World's Greatest Athlete: Part 2" (episode # 29.15) 11 January 1983
  • Disneyland playing "Dr. Gottlieb" in episode: "The World's Greatest Athlete: Part 1" (episode # 29.14) 4 January 1983
  • Three's Company playing "Mr. Hoffmeier" (archival footage) in episode: "The Best of Three's Company: Part 2" (episode # 6.28) 18 May 1982
  • Three's Company playing "Mr. Hoffmeier" in episode: "The Bake-Off" (episode # 3.19) 27 February 1979
  • Happy Days playing "Professor Himmel" in episode: "Fearless Malph" (episode # 6.8) 24 October 1978
  • Meeting of Minds playing "Martin Luther" in episode: "Florence Nightingale/Plato/Martin Luther/Voltaire: Part 2" (episode # 1.8) 13 March 1978
  • Meeting of Minds playing "Martin Luther" in episode: "Florence Nightingale/Plato/Martin Luther/Voltaire: Part 1" (episode # 1.7) 6 March 1978
  • The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries playing "Actor" in episode: "Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew Meet Dracula: Part 2" (episode # 2.2) 18 September 1977
  • The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries playing "Actor" in episode: "Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew Meet Dracula" (episode # 2.1) 11 September 1977
  • Meeting of Minds playing "Karl Marx" in episode: "Marie Antoinette/Sir Thomas More/Karl Marx/Ulysses S. Grant: Part 2" (episode # 1.4) 31 January 1977
  • Meeting of Minds playing "Karl Marx" in episode: "Marie Antoinette/Sir Thomas More/Karl Marx/Ulysses S. Grant: Part 1" (episode # 1.3) 24 January 1977
  • Switch playing "Actor" in episode: "The Lady from Liechtenstein: Part 2" (episode # 2.9) 30 November 1976
  • Visions playing "Actor" in episode: "The Great Cherub Knitwear Strike" (episode # 1.6) 25 November 1976
  • Switch playing "Actor" in episode: "The Lady from Liechtenstein: Part 1" (episode # 2.8) 23 November 1976
  • Paul Sand in Friends and Lovers playing "Karl Meyerbach" in episode: "Fiddler in the House" (episode # 1.4) 5 October 1974
  • McMillan and Wife playing "Ingo" in episode: "No Hearts, No Flowers" (episode # 2.5) 14 January 1973
  • The F.B.I. playing "Arbold Bebenek" in episode: "The Buyer" (episode # 7.15) 2 January 1972
  • Mission: Impossible playing "Riva" in episode: "Death Squad" (episode # 4.24) 15 March 1970
  • Daniel Boone playing "Roquelin" in episode: "Benvenuto...Who?" (episode # 6.3) 9 October 1969
  • It Takes a Thief playing "Boris Bolshoi" in episode: "A Matter of Grey Matter: Part 2" (episode # 2.17) 11 February 1969
  • The Monkees playing "Nicolai" in episode: "The Card Carrying Red Shoes" (episode # 2.9) 6 November 1967
  • Felony Squad playing "Tokat" in episode: "The Pat Hand of Death" (episode # 2.7) 19 October 1967
  • Vacation Playhouse playing "Herr Futterman" in episode: "Alfred of the Amazon" 31 July 1967
  • It's About Time playing "Actor" in episode: "The Stone Age Diplomats" (episode # 1.23) 25 January 1967
  • The Man from U.N.C.L.E. playing "Machina" in episode: "The Off-Broadway Affair" (episode # 3.10) 18 November 1966
  • I Spy playing "Boris" in episode: "Will the Real Good Guys Please Stand Up?" (episode # 2.8) 2 November 1966
  • My Favorite Martian playing "Peter Minuit" in episode: "Pay the Man the $24" (episode # 3.32) 1 May 1966
  • The Man from U.N.C.L.E. playing "Marvin Elom" in episode: "The Project Deephole Affair" (episode # 2.26) 18 March 1966
  • The Double Life of Henry Phyfe playing "U-45" in episode: "Phyfe and the Code Book: Part 2" (episode # 1.8) 3 March 1966
  • Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre playing "Chunky Russian" in episode: "Russian Roulette" (episode # 3.7) 17 November 1965
  • Honey West playing "The Count" in episode: "The Abominable Snowman" (episode # 1.3) 1 October 1965
  • My Favorite Martian playing "Von Reinbein" in episode: "Martin of the Movies" (episode # 3.3) 26 September 1965
  • The Rogues playing "Willie" in episode: "Plavonia, Hail and Farewell" (episode # 1.11) 29 November 1964
  • The Outer Limits playing "Shop Superintendent" in episode: "The Inheritors: Part 1" (episode # 2.10) 21 November 1964
  • GE True playing "Actor" in episode: "The Tenth Mona Lisa" (episode # 1.26) 31 March 1963
  • Saints and Sinners playing "Baron" in episode: "The Year Joan Crawford Won the Oscar" (episode # 1.16) 21 January 1963
  • The Dick Powell Show playing "Dr. Hoffman" in episode: "Project X" (episode # 2.15) 8 January 1963
  • Captain David Grief playing "Hayes" in episode: "The Return of Blackbeard" (episode # 2.5) 18 October 1959
  • Disneyland playing "Anton Rubinstein" in episode: "The Peter Tschaikovsky Story" (episode # 5.16) 10 March 1959
  • The Restless Gun playing "Ollie Rowan" in episode: "The Shooting of Jett King" (episode # 1.6) 28 October 1957
  • Matinee Theater playing "General Rabat" in episode: "The Heart's Desire" (episode # 2.183) 19 June 1957
  • Schlitz Playhouse of Stars playing "Actor" in episode: "An Old Spanish Custom" (episode # 6.32) 7 June 1957
  • The Lineup playing "Adolph Berger" in episode: "The Heinrich Menzel Case" (episode # 3.23) 8 March 1957
  • Tales of the 77th Bengal Lancers playing "Actor" in episode: "The Imposter" (episode # 1.17) 10 February 1957
  • Telephone Time playing "Actor" in episode: "Passport to Life" (episode # 2.16) 6 January 1957
  • The 20th Century Fox Hour playing "Siebert" in episode: "Operation Cicero" (episode # 2.7) 26 December 1956
  • Lux Video Theatre playing "Felix Bassenak" in episode: "Christmas in Connecticut" (episode # 7.12) 13 December 1956
  • The Adventures of Hiram Holliday playing "Drago" in episode: "Dancing Mouse" (episode # 1.11) 12 December 1956
  • Soldiers of Fortune playing "Actor" in episode: "Hatchet Man" (episode # 2.12) 9 December 1956
  • Telephone Time playing "M. Herbert" in episode: "Fortunatus" (episode # 2.10) 9 December 1956
  • Lux Video Theatre playing "Mike Czerny" in episode: "You Can't Escape Forever" (episode # 7.7) 1 November 1956
  • Crusader playing "Rudy" in episode: "The Farm" (episode # 1.38) 22 June 1956
  • Front Row Center playing "Mike Joseph" in episode: "The Human Touch" (episode # 2.15) 15 April 1956
  • Studio 57 playing "Proprietor of a gambling house" in episode: "Integrity" (episode # 2.28) 15 April 1956
  • TV Reader's Digest playing "Russian Delegate" in episode: "The Secret Weapon of Joe Smith" (episode # 2.25) 2 April 1956
  • TV Reader's Digest playing "Weeren" in episode: "A Bell for Okinawa" (episode # 2.15) 23 January 1956
  • Crusader playing "Brussard" in episode: "Operation Murder" (episode # 1.14) 6 January 1956
  • Adventures of Superman playing "Prime Minister Vallen" in episode: "King for a Day" (episode # 3.13) 15 October 1955
  • Crusader playing "Actor" in episode: "One Way Train" (episode # 1.2) 14 October 1955
  • Soldiers of Fortune playing "Aga Dhur" in episode: "The Black Scarab" (episode # 1.26) 28 July 1955
  • The Lineup playing "Adolph Berger" in episode: "The Murphy Robbery Case" (episode # 1.35) 20 May 1955
  • The Man Behind the Badge playing "Leon Sandimas" in episode: "The Case of the Priceless Passport" (episode # 2.8) 26 February 1955
  • Studio 57 playing "Igor Rykoff" in episode: "No Great Hero" (episode # 1.2) 28 September 1954
  • Private Secretary playing "Himself - Guest Star" in episode: "A Matter of Taste" (episode # 2.25) 30 May 1954
  • Adventures of Superman playing "Joseph Ferdinand" in episode: "Superman in Exile" (episode # 2.7) 31 October 1953
  • Lux Video Theatre playing "Gustave" in episode: "Return to Alsace" (episode # 3.56) 24 September 1953
  • Schlitz Playhouse of Stars playing "Actor" in episode: "Nineteen Rue Marie" (episode # 2.23) 13 March 1953
  • Biff Baker, U.S.A. playing "Reicher" in episode: "Alpine Assignment" (episode # 1.5) 4 December 1952
  • Gruen Guild Playhouse playing "Actor" in episode: "An Affair at the Embassy" 18 October 1952
  • Studio One playing "Marcus" in episode: "They Came to Baghdad" (episode # 4.35) 12 May 1952
  • Suspense playing "Ramon" in episode: "The Purloined Letter" (episode # 4.32) 29 April 1952
  • We, the People playing "Himself" in episode: "Episode dated 15 February 1952" 15 February 1952
  • Lights Out playing "Actor" in episode: "The Mule Man" (episode # 3.14) 27 November 1950

Bibliography Edit

  • Askin, Leon and C. Melvin Davidson. (1989) Quietude and Quest: Protagonists and Antagonists in the Theatre, on and off Stage, as Seen through the Eyes of Leon Askin. Ariadne Press (CA). ISBN 0929497074.

External linksEdit

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