By Kay Ebeling
"Sex is good for you, I'm normal. They're the ones with the hangups," says Bob Crane in dialogue from Autofocus - and I begin wondering if Crane could have been another adult victim of a pedophile priest. Because after working on a blog like this, you begin to be able to recognize the signs, the patterns. Some survivors of pedophile Catholic priests are more ... afflicted than others. In the 2002 film, we see how the actor's sex antics destroyed his family and career and even played into his 1978 murder.
Crane was a Catholic born in 1928 and raised in Connecticut. I just wonder if he ever served as an altar boy. Or as a kid did he go off on long trips with the priest for hours, often spending the night, coming home acting strange?
In Autofucus, Greg Kinnear portrays Crane going through the demise of his life and career, and the development of his sex compulsions in the early 1960s. As Crane rose to fame on the sitcom Hogan's Heroes, he graduated from being an overt flirt to a guy who really liked orgies, which he then videotaped to use as his own home porn, often sharing his collection with people who did not really want to look at it. His sex addiction destroyed his family and career, yet Crane didn't think there was anything wrong with him.
I hate to say it, but a similar thing happened to me, and I've written about it before here at City of Angels 1. My acting career tanked in the 1960s due to the way I acted out with sex, and I couldn't see that I was doing anything wrong.
There's a scene in Autofocus where Crane's agent is trying to talk sense to him saying, "There could be very serious conflict here between your lifestyle and your career. You don't see this?" and Bob Crane answers, "I'm normal."
A similar scene in my own life plagues me to this day, and is part of the story I've been writing over and over for 16 years, of being molested at age five by a priest and how much it screwed up my life.
Because I don't think I would have walked into a porn agency in 1969 and performed so free and easily if I hadn't been "sexualized" starting at around age five by a Catholic priest. Porn was just a quick way to pay the rent for me, so I could pursue real jobs the rest of the month.
So later, when a "real" agent was just about to sign me, he asked if I had done "Any of this new X-Rated stuff that's around," and I answered yes, like it was no big deal.
Even a little proud of it.
I'd done a lot. I had a large body of work ...
The agent told me pretty much the same thing Crane's agent says in Autofocus, that there was a conflict between my lifestyle and my career, and as a result I could have no career.
I answered back pretty much what Crane answered back something like, "Huh? What's the big deal?"
There was a scene at the beginning of Autofocus establishing that Crane and his family were active Catholics. So I went to Google and discovered, indeed Crane was born Robert Edward Crane, July 13, 1928, in Waterbury, Connecticut, where he was raised a Roman Catholic.
Here is the dialogue from the scene I just watched in the film Autofocus that sparked this post:
AGENT: I got a call from Disney. Apprently some joker from The Enquirer took pictures of you in a topless bar.
AGENT: Bob, this is Disney. Don't f--ing blow it.
BOB: I'm a family man, a one woman man, always have been.
AGENT: What about the photo albums?
AGENT: Those pictures you show people. You know, not everyone thinks about things the way you do. It turns people off and word gets around.
BOB: Who did I show them to?
AGENT: You show them to everybody.
BOB: Don't be a square.
AGENT: Is it true you showed them to Donna Reed and she ran out?
BOB: [LAUGHS] I may be horny but I'm not stupid.
AGENT: There could be very serious conflict here between your lifestyle and your career. You don't see this?
BOB: I'm normal.
AGENT: Sex is not the answer.
BOB: I know that, Lenny, it's the question. Yes is the answer. [LAUGHS]
AGENT: I'm just saying, try to be a little discreet.
Crane enters his trailer and we see naked women photos taped inside the door, which he tries to cover up like an embarrassed teenager.
Next scene Crane and his compadre John Carpenter enter a room full of naked people and join an orgy in progress.
I wonder, what if Crane could have lived long enough to hear about Boston in 2002, or even about the pedophile priest lawsuits that resulted in settlements in the early 1990s in Connecticut where he grew up a Catholic.
Would he have remembered, or finally looked squarely at, an experience in his childhood with the parish priest that finally explained to him why he acted out sexually the way he had all his life?
I just wonder.
A biography of Crane reads:
Throughout his adult life, Bob Crane manifested a strong interest in sex. He was perennially hungry for "the act" and publicly open about it. He very much enjoyed flirting, double entendres, and sexy jokes. Pornography was a major pastime. He was a hardcore "breast man" who was most attracted to blondes. He also liked to brag about how many women he bedded. The terms he used to describe them were often crude and showed a sad tendency to dehumanize his sexual partners.
After the demise of Hogan's Heroes, that powerful sexual interest seemed to cross the line into outright sexual addiction. He was insatiable in his desire for as many different women as possible. Fond of group sex, he often left nightclubs with two or three women at a time. He was also into dominance and submission, visited a dominatrix, and financed the building of "dungeons" — rooms devoted to bondage and discipline — in the homes of some of his friends.
From The Bob Crane Case
Online Crime Library at TruTV
LATER ON IN THE FILM AUTOFOCUS
The scenes gets darker, locations more seedy, Crane looks bloated and disheveled in this darker more sinister scene with his agent.
AGENT: So what's on your mind?
CRANE: Just passing through.
AGENT: How's the family, the kids alright?
[Crane describes the breakup of his second marriage.]
CRANE: I was wondering if you'd set some meetings up for me. Get me in circulation, a game show. Do you remember the reaction I got on Password? I know, I know. Maybe Hollywood Squares, you know, just something for me to get back into the public's eye. Don't look at me like that, hey, I'm not talking about Paul Lynd's square. Any square is fine.
AGENT: We've talked about this. The image problem. If I were to send you out again, I would have to be able to tell people you're a new man.
CRANE: Hm, well tell them sex is normal. It's good for you. I'm normal. People have got these hangups.
CRANE: Do you know there's actually people out there who avoid me now? I'm the friendly guy. I'm the mediator. I'm the good guy.
AGENT: Hey, I'm not a counselor. But I'll tell you something, people don't change unless they want to.
CRANE: I want to.
AGENT: A drunk can't stay sober and still hang around his old drinking buddies, kid.
AGENT: Excuse me.
CRANE: I'll call ya.
AGENT: Good luck kid.
I wonder if Crane could have lived long enough to hear about Boston in 2002, or even about the pedophile priest lawsuits that resulted in settlements in the early 1990s in Connecticut, where he grew up Roman Catholic, would he have remembered, or finally looked squarely at, an experience in his childhood with the parish priest that finally explained to him why he acted out sexually the way he had all his life.
Crane would have been in his eighties today. I just wonder if he ever as a kid served as an altar boy, ever went off on trips with the priest for hours, often spending the night, coming home acting strange. . .
The movie gets darker as Crane's life gets darker..
CRANE: In the divorce papers she says I showed Scotty X-rated videos.
CARPENTER: Did you?
CRANE: I was editing. He might have seen something.
It was the early 1960s, Crane in his forties was never sober, pursuing sex like a fiend. Maybe if he'd lived to his seventies or eighties, he would have uncovered his own part of the story of Sex Crimes in the Catholic Church. To me, there's almost no other explanation for the weirdness of Bob Crane's life.
Of course, we'll probably never know, especially since the perpetrator priest would have been active in the 1930s or 1940s.
In Waterbury, Connecticut.
I just wonder.
Autofocus is based on the book, "The Murder of Bob Crane" by Robert Graysmith. Dialogue in the film may be "compressed" from real life, but it's not fiction.
Here from YouTube is a scene from Autofocus where Greg Kinnear portrays Bob Crane in one of many embarrassing scenes in his career, his weird combined innocence and sleazy sexuality:
The cooking show portrayed in scene from Autofocus above was scheduled to air July 10, 1978, but it was never broadcast, likely because Crane was murdered June 29th, 12 days earlier.
I know today that if I hadn't been sexually confused, sexualized at such an early age, and by a Catholic priest, no less, I probably would not have even considered doing porn. So back in 1969 in Hollywood, I had a similar scene in my life to the scenes I just watched in Autofocus that sparked me to write this post.
As to Bob Crane?
I just wonder.
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