Robert Clary—Hogan’s Heroes—RIP

n. Obit of the Week I: Mike Barnes of The Hollywood Reporter on the life and times of Robert Clary, who played Corporal LeBeau on the late-sixties CBS sitcom “Hogan’s Heroes” and did so much more in his 96 years.

o. Lots to say here about Clary and “Hogan’s Heroes,” which was a staple-of-my-youth TV show and seems so odd to think about now. The show was about Allied prisoners of war in a German camp, led by Colonel Robert Hogan (Bob Crane), trying to defeat the Nazis from inside the camp. A comedy. Crazy, but really good for its day, and Clary was excellent as the French POW. Still remember the theme music.

p. Imagine you’re Robert Clary, an Orthodox Jewish man born in Paris. And you agree to act in this show after this experience, per Barnes’ obituary:

One day when he was 16, he and his family were rounded up and sent to Auschwitz.

“My mother said the most remarkable thing,” Clary told The Hollywood Reporter‘s Peter Flax in late 2015. “She said, ‘Behave.’ She probably knew me as a brat. She said, ‘Behave. Do what they tell you to do.’”

Clary’s parents were murdered in the gas chamber that day.

At Buchenwald, Clary sang with an accordionist every other Sunday to an audience of SS soldiers. “Singing, entertaining and being in kind of good health at my age, that’s why I survived,” he told Flax.

Clary was incarcerated for 31 months (he worked in a factory making 4,000 wooden shoe heels each day) and tattooed with the identification “A-5714” on his left forearm. He was the only one of his captured family to make it out alive.

q. What a life, post-concentration camp. He sang with Eartha Kitt on Broadway, acted with Paul Newman on the big screen, acted on soaps (Days of Our Lives and The Young and the Restless), sang on jazz albums, and was recognized for years after his “Hogan’s Heroes” run. He was the last member of the “Hogan’s Heroes” cast to die.