Leon Askin

Leon Askin (German pronunciation: [ˈleːɔn ˈaskin] (listen); born Leon Aschkenasy, September 18, 1907 – June 3, 2005) was an Austrian Jewish actor best known for portraying the character "General Burkhalter" on the TV situation comedy Hogan's Heroes.

Leon Askin
as "Gen. Burkhalter" on Hogan's Heroes
Leon Aschkenasy

(1907-09-18)September 18, 1907
Vienna, Austria
DiedJune 3, 2005(2005-06-03) (aged 97)
Vienna, Austria
Years active1930s–2005
Spouse(s)Mimi (divorced), Annelies Ehrlich (divorced), Anita Askin-Wicher

Life and career

Askin was born into a Jewish family in Vienna, the son of Malvine (Susman) and Samuel Aschkenazy.[1][2] According to his autobiography his first experience of show business occurred during World War I when he recited a poem before Emperor Franz Joseph. In the 1920s, he studied acting with Louise Dumont and Max Reinhardt. While working at Vienna's "ABC" cabaret theater in the 1930s, he frequently directed the works of dissident political writer Jura Soyfer.

Askin immigrated to the United States in 1940[1] and served in World War II as a Staff Sergeant in the US Army Air Forces. After the war, he went to Hollywood to begin a career in films, invariably portraying foreign characters who speak English with a strong accent. Askin appeared as the Russian composer Anton Rubinstein in a Disneyland anthology episode of the life of Peter Tchaikovsky.[3] Fans of the television series Adventures of Superman recall his portrayals of an eastern European diamond smuggler (Joseph Ferdinand) in the 1953 black-and-white episode "Superman in Exile",[4] and as a South American prime minister in a color episode. He appeared in 20th Century Fox's biblical epic The Robe in 1953 as a Syrian guide named Abidor. In 1960, he appeared in the film Pension Schöller, and the following year was prominently featured in Billy Wilder's film One, Two, Three, co-starring with James Cagney.

Askin gained wide recognition and popularity for his recurring role as the stern General Albert Burkhalter in the sitcom Hogan's Heroes appearing in 67 episodes (including the pilot) of the show’s run from 1965 to 1971. Burkhalter was the gruff and portly commanding officer of Colonel Klink, the bungling commandant of a German World War II prisoner-of-war camp, manipulated by the American Colonel Hogan so the prisoners would get away with their clandestine activities.

Askin made guest appearances on My Favorite Martian 1965 episode "Martin Of The Movies" as Von Reinbein. The Monkees 1967 episode "The Card Carrying Red Shoes", as Nicolai, on Daniel Boone in its 1969 episode "Benvenuto... Who?" as Roquelinm and in the "Fiddler in the House" episode of the 1974 situation comedy Paul Sand in Friends and Lovers as a violin virtuoso. Between 1977 and 1979, he appeared in Steve Allen's PBS series, Meeting of Minds, portraying Martin Luther and Karl Marx. He portrayed a psychology professor in a season six episode of Happy Days. In 1979 he portrayed the character Mr. Hoffmeier of Hoffmeier’s Bakery, judging a pie contest in an episode in the third season of Three’s Company titled, "The Bake-Off".

His other film credits include roles in Road to Bali (1952), Desert Legion (1953), The Veils of Bagdad (1953), Knock on Wood (1954), Secret of the Incas (1954), Valley of the Kings (1954), Son of Sinbad (1955), The Last Blitzkrieg (1959), Lulu (1962), Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace (1962), Do Not Disturb (1965), What Did You Do in the War, Daddy? (1966), Double Trouble (1967), The Caper of the Golden Bulls (1967), The Perils of Pauline (1967), The Wicked Dreams of Paula Schultz (1968), A Fine Pair (1968), Guns for San Sebastian (1968), The Maltese Bippy (1969), Death Knocks Twice (1969), Hammersmith Is Out (1972), The World's Greatest Athlete (1973), Going Ape! (1981), and Frightmare (1983). In 1982, he had a brief appearance as a Moscow Anchorman in the film Airplane II: The Sequel. Askin also appeared in the classic Mel Brooks comedy Young Frankenstein (1974), but his scenes were cut from the film.

Askin died from natural causes in Vienna on June 3, 2005, at the age of 97 and is interred at Zentralfriedhof.


Year Title Role Notes
1952Assignment – Paris!FranzUncredited
1952Road to BaliKing Ramayana
1953Desert LegionMaj. Vasil
1953South Sea WomanPierre Marchand
1953China VentureWu King
1953The RobeAbidor
1953The Veils of BagdadPasha Hammam
1954Knock on WoodLaslo Gromeck
1954Secret of the IncasAnton Marcu
1954Valley of the KingsValentine Arko
1955Carolina CannonballOtto
1955Son of SinbadKhalif
1955Spy ChasersCol. Alex Baxis
1958Der SchinderhannesRochus Eppelsheimer
1959The Last BlitzkriegSergeant Steiner
1959Abschied von den WolkenGen. Cordobas
1960Mistress of the WorldFernando
1960Pension SchöllerFritz Bernhardi
1960Until Money Departs YouDr. Plauert
1960Weit ist der WegLuiz
1961Immer Ärger mit dem BettLuigi Papagallo
1961Unter Ausschluß der ÖffentlichkeitStrafverteidiger Dr. Leupold
1961One, Two, ThreePeripetchikoff
1962LuluDr. Goll
1962Das Testament des Dr. MabuseFlocke
1962Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly NecklaceCharles
1965John Goldfarb, Please Come Home!Samir
1965Do Not DisturbLangsdorf
1966What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?Col. Kastorp
1967Double TroubleInspector de Groote
1967The Caper of the Golden BullsMorchek
1967The Perils of PaulineCommisar
1968The Wicked Dreams of Paula SchultzOscar
1968Guns for San SebastianVicar General
1968A Fine PairChief Wellman
1968Die Funkstreife GottesFelix
1968LucreziaAlessandro VI
1969The Maltese BippyAxel Kronstadt
1969Death Knocks TwicePepe Mangano
1972Hammersmith Is OutDr. Krodt
1973The World's Greatest AthleteDr. Gottlieb
1973Doctor Death: Seeker of SoulsThor
1974Young FrankensteinHerr WaldmanUncredited / Scene Deleted
1974Karl MayKlotz-Sello
1974Perahim - die zweite Chance
1975Parapsycho - Spektrum der Angst
1981Going Ape!Zebrewski
1982Airplane II: The SequelMoscow Anchorman
1984A Stroke of Genius
1985Diff'rent StrokesDoshenko
1985Savage IslandLuker
1985StiffsFuneral Director
1985First Strike
1986Odd JobsDon Carlucci
1987DeshimaFrank Nievergelt
1994OcchioPinocchioThe Psychiatrist
1994HöhenangstVater Gusenleitner
1994Adolf Lanz - Mein KrampfJosef Lanz von Liebenfels
1995Tödliche Liebe
1998Black Flamingos - Sie lieben euch zu Tode
1999Kubanisch rauchenWaranovsky
2001Ene mene muh - und tot bist du(final film role)

Decorations and awards

  • 1988: Austrian Cross of Honour for Science and Art[5]
  • 1994: Silver Medal for Service to the City of Vienna
  • 1996: Award of the title "professor"
  • 2001: Austrian Cross of Honour for Science and Art, 1st class[6]
  • 2002: Gold Medal of Honour for Services to the city of Vienna
  • 2003: Goldener Rathausmann of Vienna to mark the 75th anniversary
  • 2007: Naming of Leon-Askin-Platz in Vienna-Penzing
  • 2007: A bust of Leon Askin in Türkenschanzpark (Vienna)
  • 2007: Plaque unveiled at Hütteldorferstrasse 349 in Vienna-Penzing, to mark 100th anniversary of Askin's birth
  • 2009: At Sechsschimmelgasse 19 in Vienna-Alsergrund a public housing block was named after him
  • 27 May 2010: Leon-Askin-Park at Grundsteingasse in Ottakring (Vienna's 16th District) named after Askin

See also

  • Biography portal


  1. "Leon Askin Biography (1907-)". Filmreference.com. Advameg. Retrieved 2011-07-09.
  2. Both parents died in the Shoah
  3. Video on YouTube
  4. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0506592/?ref_=ttep_ep7
  5. "Reply to a parliamentary question" (pdf) (in German). p. 811. Retrieved 14 January 2013.
  6. "Reply to a parliamentary question" (pdf) (in German). p. 1383. Retrieved 14 January 2013.

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