French actor and Holocaust survivor Robert Clary has died at the age of 96.
The “Hogan’s Heroes” star, who played Corporal LeBeau on the World War II-era sitcom, died Tuesday, his granddaughter Kim Wright told The Hollywood Reporter.
His cause of death was not given.
Clary was the last surviving member of the series’ original main cast.
Born Robert Max Widerman in Paris on March 1, 1926, Clary was the youngest of 14 children born to strictly Orthodox Jewish parents.
When he was 16 he was sent with his family to Auschwitz, where his parents were murdered in the gas chambers.
“My mom said the most remarkable thing,” Clary told the reporter in 2015 about that day. “She said, ‘Behave yourself.’ She probably knew me as a brat. She said, “Behave yourself. Do what they tell you.’”
Clary was the only one of his captive family to survive. He ended up in the Buchenwald Nazi concentration camp for 31 months, where he worked in a factory making wooden shoe heels and had the identification number “A-5714” tattooed on his left forearm.
“Singing at my age, entertaining and being in good health is why I survived,” he said of singing with an accordionist every other Sunday for SS soldiers in Buchenwald.
In May 1945 Clary returned to France and sang in dance halls. Four years later he went to Los Angeles to record for Capitol Records and in 1950 appeared in a French comedy sket on a CBS variety show hosted by comedian Ed Wynn.
His films include Ten Tall Men (1951) and Thief of Damascus (1952). Clary also appeared on Broadway in 1955 in New Faces of 1952 and Seventh Heaven.
Clary, who starred in CBS’ “Hogan’s Heroes” from September 1965 to April 1971, waited 36 years to speak publicly about his Holocaust experiences.
“I had to explain that [‘Hogan’s Heroes’] was about prisoners of war in a stalag, not a concentration camp, and while I didn’t mean to belittle what soldiers went through during their internment, it was like night and day of what people endured in concentration camps,” he wrote in his 2001 memoir, “From the Holocaust to Hogan’s Heroes,” per THR.
He also worked on soap operas like Days of Our Lives, The Young and the Restless, and The Bold and The Beautiful.
Clary was married to his mentor Eddie Cantor’s daughter, Natalie, for 32 years. She died in 1997.
https://nypost.com/2022/11/16/robert-clary-hogans-heroes-star-and-auschwitz-survivor-dead-at-96/ Robert Clary, ‘Hogan’s Heroes’ star and Auschwitz survivor, dies aged 96