“Hogan’s Hero” And Real Life Holocaust Survivor Passes Away At 96
I have to confess, Berkshire County, that this news shook me up a little bit last week when I heard it. Some tears were shed as well. When I was a kid I always watched the television show "Hogan's Heroes" with my mom who absolutely loved the show.
Having gotten swooped up by my mother's enjoyment and laughter, I grew to be a fan of the show, too. I'm sad to report that the last original "Hero", actor Robert Clary, has died at 96 years old.
I loved all the characters in "Hogan's Heroes" but two of them were my favorites. The late Bob Crane who played Hogan, and Robert Clary who portrayed Corporal Louis LeBeau.
My respect and admiration for Clary grew much more later on when I found out something that I considered pretty remarkable. Remember, back then there was no such thing as the "Internet", so it wasn't as easy to find out the backgrounds of your favorite actors and actresses.
It turns out that Clary was a real-life survivor of the Holocaust. Clary, who was born in Paris in 1926(real name Robert Max Widerman), and his family were sent to a concentration camp when he was 16 years old.
Clary spent over two-and-a-half years incarcerated in Auschwitz and was the only member of his family(he had 13 brothers and sisters) to survive. Both of his parents were murdered in the gas chamber.
After a brief period performing in France, Clary eventually made his way to Los Angeles in the late 1940s. Almost immediately he found success in the entertainment industry, which he loved.
Clary acted in some movies(including The Hindenburg in 1975, one of my faves) and appeared in several daytime soap operas including Days of Our Lives and The Young and the Restless.
Here's a more recent picture of Clary:
That picture was from a 2016 United States Holocaust Memorial Museum dinner in Beverly Hills, California. Mr. Clary, thanks for all the laughs and memories. You've more than earned a peaceful rest, good sir.