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"Hogan's Heroes": Why Cynthia Lynn Left Her Role as Helga

Cheryl enjoys writing articles that give readers information on popular television series and characters.

Helga and her pigtails

Helga and her pigtails

Cynthia Lynn: Getting to Know Her

Cynthia Lynn is well known for portraying Fräulein Helga, the pretty secretary to Colonel Wilhelm Klink (Werner Klemperer), during the first season of the television series Hogan's Heroes (1965-66). The sitcom was set in a Nazi German prisoner of war camp during World War Two. Helga was known for sitting at her desk with her blonde pigtails and infectious smile.

Lynn's other acting credits include the comedy films Bedtime Stories and Honeymoon Hotel, both 1964. She also appeared in several TV shows: Mission: Impossible, The Odd Couple, Gidget Grows Up, The Six Million Dollar Man, Dr. Kildare, Surfside 6, and Love American Style. Her last role was in an episode of Harry O in 1975.

She was born Zinta Valda Ziemelis on April 2, 1937, in Riga, Latvia, which borders Russia, Lithuania, Belarus, and Estonia. In 1945, when she was eight, Lynn and her mother, Alisa, fled the country before the Soviet Union could occupy Latvia. The duo traveled to the United States in 1950, which was chronicled in Edward Ansara's 2002 book, Escape to Freedom: An Autobiography of Cynthia Lynn.

Lynn passed away on March 10, 2014, due to complications from hepatitis. She was 76. She was survived by her daughter, Lisa, and son, Tony. Following Marlon Brando's death in 2004, Lisa claimed the actor was her biological father and that her parents met on the set of Bedtime Stories.

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Cynthia Lynn as Helga, Season 1 of "Hogan's Heroes," 1965-66

Cynthia Lynn as Helga, Season 1 of "Hogan's Heroes," 1965-66

Helga and Colonel Hogan

Lynn was quiet and flirty as Helga, stealing a few kisses with Bob Crane's character, Colonel Robert E Hogan. At times, Helga allowed Hogan and his men to get the goods on her boss by not revealing their plans. Helga was replaced on by Hilda (Sigrid Valdis), who remained for the next five seasons. Lynn returned to the series for two additional episodes, "Will the Blue Baron Strike Again" in 1968 and "Easy Come, Easy Go" in 1971. It was implied during that first season that Helga was having an affair with Colonel Hogan and the same was true of Hilda. These two characters had something in common with their portrayers as Valdis later married Bob Crane and Lynn is alleged to have had an affair with him while he was married to his first wife.

Bob Crane and Cynthia Lynn had on-screen chemistry because of off-screen chemistry

Bob Crane and Cynthia Lynn had on-screen chemistry because of off-screen chemistry

Crane and Lynn had an affair

According to information in Lynn's autobiography, the chemistry between Helga and Hogan was real because she was having an affair with Crane while working on the show. In 1997, the actress admitted to Entertainment Tonight that she had an affair with Bob Crane and it caused problems in both of their marriages. According to Rick Nineg in the video below, Lynn's husband found out about the affair and asked her to leave the show. Lynn says she did not return for a second season on Hogan's Heroes because she wanted to save her marriage. Unfortunately, only three months later the couple split up. Crane's first marriage also ended and he went on to marry Lynn's replacement, Sigrid Valdis. She was still married to Crane at the time of his controversial 1978 death.

Real Reason Cynthia Lynn Left "Hogan's Heroes"

Lynn Missed Out on Success of "Hogan's Heroes"

Hogan's Heroes was a hit from the beginning, but Lynn only enjoyed one year of success, missing the final five seasons. The sitcom garnered 12 Emmy nominations, with Klemperer winning two for his portrayal of Colonel Klink. The television show ran for 168 episodes on CBS from September 17, 1965, to April 4, 1971. It has the distinction of being the longest running network television series inspired by World War Two. Although Cynthia Lynn was only in the first season, her character Helga lives on in the hearts of the series' fans.

© 2022 Cheryl E Preston

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