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Robert Clary, Holocaust survivor who starred in TV’s ‘Hogan’s Heroes’, dies at 96

  • Performed French POW on “Hogan’s Heroes” from 1965-1971
  • He was free of Buchenwald focus camp in 1945
  • Years later, spoke at faculties about Holocaust experiences

Nov 17 (Reuters) – Robert Clary, the diminutive Paris-born actor and singer who survived 31 months in Nazi focus camps however later had no qualms about co-starring in “Hogan’s Heroes,” the American scenario comedy set in a German World Battle Two POW camp, has died on the age of 96.

Clary, who performed strudel-baking French Corporal Louis Lebeau on “Hogan’s Heroes” throughout its six seasons from 1965 to 1971, died on Wednesday at his house in Los Angeles, his grandmother advised The Hollywood Reporter.

“Robert was a tremendous gentleman and extremely gifted not simply as an actor but in addition a performer and a gifted painter,” stated David Martin, his former supervisor.

Clary was 16 in September 1942 when he was deported from Paris to Nazi focus camps with 12 different members of his Jewish household. He was the one one who survived. Clary spent 2-1/2 years within the Ottmuth, Blachhammer, Gross-Rosen and Buchenwald focus camps, enduring starvation, illness and compelled labor.

He was freed when American troops liberated Buchenwald in April 1945, however then discovered that his members of the family, together with his dad and mom, had died within the Holocaust.

It was with some irony that Clary achieved his best fame enjoying for jokes in a TV present set in a German POW camp. He stated he had no considerations about being in a present that mocked the Nazis.

His character was one of many prisoners-of-war who outwitted their dimwitted German jailers and carried out espionage and sabotage to assist the Allied trigger.

“The present was a satire set in a stalag for prisoners of conflict, the place situations weren’t nice however on no account corresponding to a focus camp, and it had nothing to do with Jews,” Clary advised the Jerusalem Put up in 2002.

“Showbiz is sort of a curler coaster and you are taking what roles are provided to you,” Clary added.

“Hogan’s Heroes” starred Bob Crane as American Colonel Robert Hogan, with Richard Dawson, Larry Hovis and Ivan Dixon enjoying different POWs. The primary German characters have been bumbling camp commander Colonel Klink, performed by Werner Klemperer, and pliant guard Sergeant Schultz, performed by John Banner. Each actors have been Jews and had fled Europe due to the Nazis.

Clary’s character was recognized for his burgundy beret and his cooking abilities, which have been used to distract German officers with scrumptious delicacies whereas his fellow POWs have been as much as mischief.

“Hogan’s Heroes” was common with TV viewers throughout its run on the CBS community and for many years afterward in syndication regardless that some critics thought-about it in unhealthy style.


Clary was born as Robert Max Widerman on March 1, 1926, the youngest of his Polish tailor father’s 14 youngsters from two marriages. He turned an expert singer as a teen.

Within the camps arrange by the Nazis to eradicate Europe’s Jews, he was tattooed with the quantity A-5714 and compelled to dig trenches, work in a shoe manufacturing facility and sing for his captors. The singing earned him just a few further morsels of meals, Clary stated.

“I used to be one of many fortunate ones,” he advised the Asbury Park, New Jersey, Press in 2002. “Initially, as a result of I survived. Secondly, as a result of I used to be in camps that weren’t as atrocious as others. I didn’t undergo. I didn’t work as laborious as individuals have been working in salt mines on quarries. I used to be by no means tortured. I used to be by no means actually overwhelmed. I used to be by no means hung. However I noticed all these items.”

After the conflict, Clary’s singing profession took off in France. He moved to the US in 1949 and comic Eddie Cantor gave him nationwide TV publicity. Clary later married Cantor’s daughter Natalie.

Clary carried out on stage, in small movie roles and in visitor spots on TV earlier than being solid in “Hogan’s Heroes.” His greatest movie position of his was in director Robert Smart’s “The Hindenburg” (1975) starring George C. Scott.

Alarm over individuals attempting to disclaim the Holocaust prompted Clary in 1980 to finish his self-imposed silence about his experiences. He spent years touring to varsities in the US and Canada talking concerning the Holocaust. He additionally wrote an autobiography, “From the Holocaust to Hogan’s Heroes.”

“We should study from historical past,” Clary advised the Reno Gazette-Journal in 2002, “which we do not.”

Reporting and writing by Will Dunham; extra reporting by Danielle Broadway; Modifying by Invoice Trott and Diane Craft

Our Requirements: The Thomson Reuters Belief Rules.


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