Robert Clary, a French actor who lived through the Holocaust, has died at the age of 96.
His granddaughter, Kim Wright, told the Hollywood Reporter that he died on Tuesday. On “Hogan’s Heroes,” he played Corporal LeBeau. The show was set during World War II.
The reason for his death was not explained.
Clary was the only original main cast member who was still alive.
Clary was born Robert Max Widerman on March 1, 1926, in Paris. He was the 14th child of strict Orthodox Jewish parents.
When he was 16, he and his family were sent to Auschwitz, where his parents were killed in the gas chamber.
My mother said the most remarkable thing,
Clary told the Reporter in 2015 about that day.
She said, ‘Behave. She probably knew me as a brat. She said, ‘Behave. Do what they tell you to do.
Clary was the only one in his family who was taken captive to live. He spent 31 months in the Nazi concentration camp at Buchenwald, where he worked in a factory making wooden shoe heels and got the number “A-5714” tattooed on the inside of his left forearm.
Singing, entertaining and being in kind of good health at my age, that’s why I survived,
he said of singing with an accordionist every other Sunday for Schutzstaffel (SS) soldiers at Buchenwald.
Clary went back to France in May 1945 and sang in dance halls. Four years later, he went to Los Angeles to record for Capitol Records. In 1950, he was in a French comedy skit on a CBS variety show hosted by comedian Ed Wynn.
“Ten Tall Men” (1951) and “Thief of Damascus” are two movies that he was in. Clary was also in “New Faces of 1952” and “Seventh Heaven” on Broadway in 1955.
Clary was a star on the CBS show “Hogan’s Heroes” from September 1965 to April 1971. It took him 36 years to talk about the Holocaust in public.
I had to explain that [‘Hogan’s Heroes’] was about prisoners of war in a stalag, not a concentration camp, and although I did not want to diminish what soldiers went through during their internments, it was like night and day from what people endured in concentration camps,
he wrote in his 2001 memoir,
He also worked on soap operas like “The Young and the Restless,” “Days of Our Lives,” and “The Bold and the Beautiful.”
Clary was married to Natalie Cantor for 32 years. Natalie was the daughter of his mentor, Eddie Cantor. In 1997, she died.