Robert Clary, a French actor, singer, and Holocaust survivor best known for playing Corporal LeBeau in the sitcom Hogan’s Heroes has passed away. He was 96.
According to his granddaughter Kim Wright, Clary, who was mentored by renowned entertainer Eddie Cantor and wed one of his five daughters, passed away on Wednesday morning at his Los Angeles home.
Hogan’s Heroes, a CBS television series that ran for six seasons between September 1965 and April 1971, starred Bob Crane as Colonel Robert E. Hogan, an American who oversaw a multinational team of Allied POWs in a clandestine operation to overthrow the Nazis from within the Luft Stalag 13 camp.
The 5-foot-1 Clary played the patriotic Cpl. Louis LeBeau and used his culinary prowess to help the confused Nazi Colonel Wilhelm Klink (Werner Klemperer) get out of trouble with his superiors while also hiding in tight spaces, dreaming about girls, getting along well with the guard dogs, and dreaming about girls.
Final surviving member
The final surviving member of the original main cast of the show was Clary.
Robert Clary’s cause of death is currently unknown because the actor’s family chose not to divulge the circumstances of his passing.
Clary, who was born Robert Max Widerman in Paris on March 1, 1926, was the youngest of a strict Orthodox Jewish family’s 14 children. He started singing and performing when he was 12 years old, and when he was 16 years old, his family was taken away and transferred to Auschwitz.
“My mother said the most remarkable thing,” Clary told The Hollywood Reporter’s Peter Flax in late 2015. “She said, ‘Behave.’ She probably knew me as a brat. She said, ‘Behave. Do what they tell you to do.’”
That day, Clary’s parents were gassed to death.
Every other Sunday at Buchenwald, Clary performed with an accordionist in front of SS men. He said to Flax, “Singing, entertaining, and being in quite an excellent condition at my age, that’s why I survived.
Clary served a 31-month sentence (while producing 4,000 wooden shoe heels per day in a factory) and had “A-5714” tattooed on his left forearm as a form of identification. He was the only member of his abducted family to survive.
He chose not to talk about his Holocaust experience for almost four decades. “For 36 years I kept these experiences during the war locked up inside myself,” he once said. “But those who are attempting to deny the Holocaust, my suffering, and the suffering of millions of others have forced me to speak out.”
Robert Clary’s early life.
Clary, the youngest of 14 children—10 of whom would perish in the Holocaust—was born in Paris, France, in 1926. He started singing professionally on a French radio station when he was twelve years old. He also studied art in Paris.
Robert Clary was sent to the Nazi concentration camp at Ottmuth in Upper Silesia (now Otmt, Poland) in 1942 because he was Jewish. On his left forearm, he had the tattoo “A5714” as his identity. Later on, he was transferred to Buchenwald.
Robert Clary’s career.
Clary entered the entertainment industry once more and started singing songs that gained popularity not just in France but also in the United States. In 1948, Clary produced his first recordings, which Capitol Records released on disk after bringing them over by wire. He arrived in America in October 1949. A French-language comic routine on The Ed Wynn Show in 1950 was one of Clary’s earliest public performances in the United States.
Later, Clary ran into Eddie Cantor and Merv Griffin. After 15 years of being “the closest of friends,” Clary eventually had the opportunity to meet Natalie Cantor Metzger, Cantor’s daughter, whom he later married in 1965. Clary later appeared on The Colgate Comedy Hour thanks to Cantor.
Clary’s humorous talents were rapidly noticed by Broadway, where he performed in a number of well-liked musicals, including New Faces of 1952, which was later turned into a 1954 motion picture.
He acted in the 1952 movie Thief of Damascus alongside Paul Henreid and Lon Chaney, Jr. He made a guest appearance on The Gisele MacKenzie Show in 1958. (NBC). He had a brief appearance as Louis Schecter, Lily’s acting teacher, in the episode “Green Eyed Munsters” of The Munsters Today (1989).
Robert Clary’s wife.
The wife of Robert Clary had passed away. She was the late Natalie Cantor Metzger, whom he had been married to from 1965 until her passing in 1997.