Hovis, Larry Vaughn (1936–2003)


By: Mike Zambrano, Jr.

Type: Biography

Published: March 3, 2021

Updated: March 3, 2021


Larry Vaughn Hovis, singer, actor, comedian, writer, and teacher, best-known for his role as Sgt. Andrew Carter on the popular 1960s sitcom Hogan’s Heroes, was born on February 20, 1936, on the Yakima Indian Reservation in Wapato, Washington. He was the son of Forest Freeman Hovis and Ruth Lenell (Shirley) Hovis. His family moved to Houston, Texas, when he was three. When he was a small child, he began singing and dancing with his sister, Joan, at fairs and on the radio. At John H. Reagan High School in Houston, Hovis was active in the choir, the theater, and the student council and was president of his sophomore class. While still in high school, he joined local music group The Mascots. They won a talent contest which guaranteed the group a trip to New York City and an appearance on the television show Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts.

Hovis graduated from John H. Reagan High School in 1954 and attended the University of Houston where he earned a degree in philosophy. In the Bayou City he performed onstage at the Alley Theatre in shows such as Seventeen, Make a Million, and Mr. Roberts (when he played the quirky Ensign Pulver). Hovis also sang in local nightclubs and with Houston-based groups. He was also a drummer. He sang with the Bill Gannon 3 on their 1959 album Sweet Singing Swing! on Carlton Records. Hovis was credited as the arranger for the song “Lonesome Road” on the album.

In 1959 Hovis signed a deal with Capitol Records and released his only album, My Heart Belongs to Only You. That same year, he moved to New York City where he appeared in The Billy Barnes Review (1959) and the Broadway musical From A to Z (1960) at the Plymouth Theatre. On November 26, 1960, he married Carol Ann Corrigan in Houston. They had four children.

His experiences led to writing plays and screenplays. By 1964 Hovis moved to the West Coast and quickly sold his script for the spy spoof, Out of Sight (1966). He also developed and performed a standup comedy routine. One night while performing at The Horn in Santa Monica, Hovis met Andy Griffith’s manager, Richard Linke. Linke was impressed with Hovis, and the chance meeting led to guest appearances on The Andy Griffith Show and Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.

In 1965 Hovis had a guest appearance in the pilot episode of Hogan’s Heroes. The sitcom revolved around Allied prisoners-of-war that ran a special operations unit from a German POW camp. In the series pilot episode “The Informer,” Hovis played an escaping U. S. Army Air Corps lieutenant (Lieutenant Carter). After the pilot, one cast member, Leonid Kinskey, dropped out of the show, and Hovis was offered a permanent role—the part of Technical Sergeant Andrew Carter. While wholesome and naïve, the Carter character was an explosives expert who could be clumsy and forgetful. The show’s popularity led Hovis and his Hogan’s Heroes co-stars to release an album in July 1966—Hogan’s Heroes Sing the Best of World War II, on Sunset Records.

After six seasons, Hogan’s Heroes was cancelled in 1971. Hovis was a writer and a regular on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In (1967–73) and made guest appearances on numerous variety shows and sitcoms. He appeared as a panelist on Match Game 74 (1974) and You Don’t Say (1975), while he produced episodes of game shows such as Celebrity Sweepstakes (1974), Liar’s Club (1976), and Yahtzee (1988). He returned to the theater in 1979 to perform in a national tour of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas as Melvin P. Thorpe, the moralistic reporter. In 1989 Hovis produced Totally Hidden Video, a hidden camera video program, but accusations were made that the show had used paid actors rather than candid moments with unknowing participants. It was determined that some of the accusations were true, and Hovis was fired.

While visiting his parents in Central Texas in 1989, Hovis was approached by Fred March, chairman of the theatre department at Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State University) in San Marcos. March invited Hovis to be a guest lecturer at the university. Hovis was so well-received that in 1990 he was offered a faculty position. During the next twelve years he developed both the film and television programs, taught acting and character, and wrote and directed several plays. During his tenure, his wife passed away from cancer.

In 2003 he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. After a three-month battle, Larry Hovis died on September 9, 2003, at Hospice Austin’s Christopher House in Austin, Texas. He was survived by his four children and three grandchildren.

Austin Chronicle, September 19, 2003. The Bill Gannon 3—Sweet Singing Swing! Discogs (https://www.discogs.com/The-Bill-Gannon-3-Sweet-Singing-Swing/release/1754886), accessed February 14, 2021. Hogan’s Heroes Sing the Best of World War II, Discogs (https://www.discogs.com/Various-Hogans-Heroes-Sing-The-Best-Of-World-War-II/release/2741042), accessed February 14, 2021. Internet Movie Database: Larry Hovis (https://m.imdb.com/name/nm0397051/?ref_=m_ttfcd_cl84), accessed February 14, 2021. Variety, September 10, 2003. “Veteran actor, teacher Larry Hovis dies,” Office of Media Relations, September 9, 2003, Texas State University (https://www.txstate.edu/news/news_releases/news_archive/2003/09/hovis090903.html), accessed February 14, 2021.

Categories:
  • Education
  • Educators
  • Music and Drama
  • Music
  • Stage and Film
  • Performing Arts
  • Writers, Authors, Publications, and Literature
  • Literature
  • Screenwriters
Time Periods:
  • Texas Post World War II
Places:
  • Central Texas
  • East Texas
  • Upper Gulf Coast
  • Houston

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Mike Zambrano, Jr., “Hovis, Larry Vaughn,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 30, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/hovis-larry-vaughn.

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March 3, 2021
March 3, 2021

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