Robert Clary, an actor and Holocaust survivor who played Corporal LeBeau on Hogan’s Heroes, has died at the age of 96.
Clary, who was the last surviving member of the principal cast of the World War II-set sitcom, died on Wednesday at his home in Los Angeles, his granddaughter told the Hollywood Reporter.
Hogan’s Heroes aired from September 1965 to April 1971, and followed Bob Crane’s Colonel Robert E. Hogan, an American soldier who led a group of allied prisoners of war in an operation to defeat the Nazis inside the Luft Stalag 13 camp.
Clary was born in Paris into an Orthodox Jewish family and began singing and entertaining at the age of 12.
When he was 16, he and his family were sent to Auschwitz, and his parents were murdered in a gas chamber. He was incarcerated for 31 months and was the only member of his captured family to make it out alive.
He has since said his ability to entertain was the reason he survived, as he performed in front of SS soldiers every week.
While he kept the horrifying experiences private for years, he decided to speak out in his 2001 memoir, writing: ‘For 36 years I kept these experiences during the war locked up inside myself. But those who are attempting to deny the Holocaust, my suffering and the suffering of millions of others have forced me to speak out.’
He also said he had no reservations about starring in Hogan’s Heroes, pointing out how different the show was from the horrors he went through.
‘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.
Clary returned to France in 1945 and began his on-screen career with an appearance in a French comedy skit on a CBS variety show.
The 1950s saw Clary begin his career in Broadway, with the New Faces of 1952 musical revue.
During his decades-long career, Clary also appeared in films like Thief of Damascus in 1952, and TV series like Love, American Style in 1969 before starring in Hogan’s Heroes from 1965 to 1971.
Following his role on the show, his career continued with appearances on TV shows like The Young and the Restless in 1973, and General Hospital in 1983.
Clary was also known for his recurring role on Days of Our Lives, as Robert LeClair, from 1972 to 1987.
One of his final roles was as Pierre Jourdan in The Bold and the Beautiful from 1990 to 1992.
Clary’s final credited role was in 2001, when he lent his voice to the TV movie Matisse & Picasso: A Gentle Rivalry as Henri Matisse.
The actor was married to Natalie Cantor for 32 years, until her death in 1997.
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