“Hogans Heroes” star and Holocaust survivor Robert Clary died on Wednesday night at his home in Beverly Hills. He died of natural causes at the age of 96, his niece Brenda Hancock confirmed.
Hancock shared Thursday with the Associated Press that the survivor “never let those horrors defeat him. He never let them take the joy out of his life. He tried to spread that joy to others through his singing and his dancing and his painting.”
Clary, a French-born survivor of Nazi concentration camps during World War II, is probably best known to fans for his role as Cpl. Louis LeBeau, a feisty French prisoner of war who would commonly trade barbs with co-star Richard Dawson, who played British Cpl. Peter Newkirk, on the hit 1960s World War II CBS sitcom.
— The Associated Press (@AP) November 17, 2022
The actor was also known for his positive outlook and would share those feelings when speaking at various engagements, the outlet noted.
“Don’t ever hate,” Hancock shared. “He didn’t let hate overcome the beauty in this world.”
“Hogans Heroes” ran on the network from 1965-1971 and helped launch numerous careers. Clary was the last remaining survivor of the cast that included fellow fictional POWs played by Dawson, Bob Crane, Larry Hovis, and Ivan Dixon. The cast was rounded out by Werner Klemperer and John Banner, who played their captors.
In addition to “Hogans Heroes,” Clary appeared on several daytime soap operas such as “Days of Our Lives” and “The Bold and the Beautiful.” He also appeared on the stage in various musicals including “Cabaret” and “Irma La Douce,” and on the big screen in films like “A New Kind of Love” and “The Hindenburg.”
In 1985, a documentary was released regarding what he went through as a child after twelve of his family members, his parents, and 10 siblings were killed under the Nazis, the outlet noted. It was titled, “Robert Clary, A5714: A Memoir of Liberation.”
At the age of 16, he was taken away from his family and sent to several concentration camps. After 31 months in captivity, he was finally liberated from Buchenwald death camp by American troops.
“They write books and articles in magazines denying the Holocaust, making a mockery of the 6 million Jews — including a million and a half children — who died in the gas chambers and ovens,” Clary previously told The Associated Press.
Shortly after news surfaced of the star’s death, tributes to his time on the screen surfaced on Twitter.
“‘Singing, entertaining, and being in kind of good health at my age, that’s why I survive,’ [Robert Clary] In ‘Hogan’s Heroes,’ Robert Clary played a French POW. In reality, he was born to a Jewish family in France in 1926 and survived several concentration camps. He died yesterday at 96,” a tweet from the US Holocaust Museum read.
“Singing, entertaining, and being in kind of good health at my age, that’s why I survived.”
In “Hogan’s Heroes,” Robert Clary played a French POW. In reality, he was born to a Jewish family in France in 1926 and survived several concentration camps. He died yesterday at 96. pic.twitter.com/YgrGrjYdQn
— US Holocaust Museum (@HolocaustMuseum) November 17, 2022
May his memory be for a blessing. FWIW, my dad, who was a concentration camp survivor, used to love watching Hogan’s Heroes. The Nazis were presented as buffoons who were outsmarted every time and were the butt of every joke. That always made dad smile. https://t.co/asicByAYkS
— Orin Kerr (@OrinKerr) November 17, 2022
He was the last surviving member of the original Hogan’s Heroes cast https://t.co/xuPJfKpePg
— Josh Mankiewicz (@JoshMankiewicz) November 17, 2022
— Young & The Restless (@YRInsider) November 17, 2022
Clary was married to the daughter of singer-actor Eddie Cantor, Natalie Cantor. She died in 1997.