Robert Clary, a Holocaust survivor, and actor, died at the age of 96. His granddaughter Kim Wright confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter that he died on Wednesday, November 16, at his Los Angeles home. The French-born American actor rose to prominence for his role in the CBS series Hogan’s Heroes. With appearances on other series such as Days of Our Lives and The Bold and the Beautiful, he continued to wow fans.
Robert Clary played Corporal Louis LeBeau In Hogan’s Heroes.
Robert Clary was best known for his role as Corporal Louis LeBeau in the comedy Hogan’s Heroes. Louis was born in France and claimed that his father had a painting business in Paris on the program. Emile, a relative who hunted large game, was also a big game hunter.
Louis learned to cook and play the piano from his family and a culinary school. He even dated a female before the outbreak of World War II, but they never married. One episode indicated that he had a girlfriend, while another stated that he was married. Clary’s character may have been enlisted into the French military between the Munich Crisis in 1938 and France declaring war on Nazi Germany in September 1989. After that, he was sent to the French Air Force. Hogan’s Heroes ran on CBS from September 17, 1965, to April 4, 1971, for six seasons and 168 episodes. It received two Emmy Awards out of a total of twelve nominations.
From surviving the Holocaust to becoming a renowned actor, here’s everything you need to know about Robert Clary.
Robert Clary was the youngest of 14 children, born on March 1, 1926. He began singing at a French radio station when he was 12 years old and later studied painting in Paris. Clary was transported to the Nazi concentration camp at Ottmuth in Upper Silesia in 1942 because he was Jewish. He was tattooed with the identifying number A5714 on his left forearm and transported to Buchenwald. Every Sunday, he and an accordionist performed for a group of SS troopers.
Clary said that surviving was due to his singing, entertainment, and being in excellent condition at his age. He went on to state that he was immature and young, and that he didn’t grasp the circumstances he was in. He elaborated on the whole experience, saying,
“We weren’t even human at the time. When we arrived in Buchenwald, the SS pushed us into a shower room for the night. I’d heard rumors about the phony shower heads with gas jets. ‘This is it,’ I thought. But it was just a place to sleep.”
Clary said that the Germans held them without food for eight days and forced them to lay on top of each other. He described the whole encounter as a nightmare, saying,
“We were no better than beasts. I sometimes fantasize about those days. I wake up sweating, scared that I’m going to be transported to a concentration camp, but I don’t carry a grudge since it would be a waste of time.”
In April 1945, he was liberated from Buchenwald. His family was sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp, and he was the lone survivor. When he returned to Paris after WWII, he learned that three of his siblings had not been abducted and had survived the Nazi occupation of France. Clary was well-known for his roles on The Martha Raye Show, Appointment with Adventure, The Gisele MacKenzie Show, The Munsters Today, Days of Our Lives, The Young and the Restless, and The Bold and the Beautiful.
From the Holocaust to Hogan’s Heroes: Robert Clary’s Autobiography was released in 2001. While touring Canada and the United States, Robert Clary lectured about the Holocaust. He married Natalie Cantor Metzger, the daughter of comedian and actor Eddie Cantor, in 1965. Natalie featured in films such as It Takes Two, It’s Your Bet, and This Is Your Life. She died in Los Angeles, California, in December 1997.