Clary in 1953
|Born||Robert Max Widerman
March 1, 1926
|Known for||Corporal LeBeau in Hogan's Heroes|
|Spouse(s)||Natalie Cantor Metzger (m. 1965; died 1997)|
Robert Clary (born Robert Max Widerman; March 1, 1926) is a French-American actor, published author, and lecturer. He is best known for his role in the television sitcom Hogan's Heroes as Corporal LeBeau ("Frenchie"). Clary is the last living principal cast member of the show from its inception (Kenneth Washington, who joined during the last season, also is still living).
Early life and career
Born in 1926 in Paris, France, Clary was the youngest of 14 children. At the age of twelve, he began a career singing professionally on French radio and also studied art at the Paris Drawing School. In 1942, because he was Jewish, he was deported to the Nazi concentration camp at Ottmuth. He was later sent to Buchenwald, where he was liberated on April 11, 1945. Twelve other members of his immediate family were sent to Auschwitz; Clary was the only survivor. When he returned to Paris after World War II, he learned that some of his siblings had not been taken away and had survived the Nazi occupation of France.
He returned to the entertainment business and began making songs that not only became popular in France, but in the United States as well. Clary made his first recordings in 1948; they were brought to the United States on wire and were issued on disk by Capitol Records. He went to the U.S. in October 1949. One of Clary's first American appearances was a French language comedy skit on The Ed Wynn Show in 1950. Clary later met Merv Griffin and Eddie Cantor. This eventually led to Clary meeting Cantor's daughter, Natalie Cantor Metzger, whom he married in 1965. Cantor later got Clary a spot on the Colgate Comedy Hour. In the mid-1950s, he appeared on NBC's The Martha Raye Show and on CBS's Appointment with Adventure, a dramatic anthology series.
Clary's comedic skills were quickly recognized by Broadway, where he appeared in several popular musicals including New Faces of 1952, which was produced as a film in 1954. In 1952, he appeared in the film Thief of Damascus which also starred Paul Henreid and Lon Chaney Jr. In 1958, he guest-starred on NBC's The Gisele MacKenzie Show.
LeBeau on Hogan's Heroes
In 1965, the diminutive (5'1") Clary was offered the role of Corporal Louis LeBeau on a new TV sitcom called Hogan's Heroes, and he accepted the role when the pilot sold. The series was set in a German POW camp during World War II, and Clary played a prisoner nicknamed "Frenchie" who was a member of an Allied sabotage unit operating from inside the camp. After Hogan's Heroes, he appeared in a handful of feature films with World War II themes including the made-for-television film Remembrance of Love, about the Holocaust. Clary also made notable appearances on Days of Our Lives and The Young and the Restless, where he played Pierre Roulland (1973–1979).
Clary appeared in the 1975 film The Hindenburg which dramatized a fictional plot to blow up the German airship after it arrived at the Lakehurst, New Jersey Naval Air Station. He played Joseph Späh, a real-life passenger on the airship's final voyage.
Clary became the last surviving original Hogan's Heroes cast member when Cynthia Lynn (Helga, first season, 1965–66) died of multiple organ failure on March 10, 2014.
Later life and career
After Hogan's Heroes went off the air, Clary maintained close ties to fellow Hogan's Heroes cast members Werner Klemperer, John Banner and Leon Askin, whose lives were also affected by the Holocaust. Clary spent years touring Canada and the United States, speaking about the Holocaust. He is a painter, painting from photographs he takes on his travels.
Clary wrote a memoir, From the Holocaust to Hogan's Heroes: The Autobiography of Robert Clary in 2001.
- Ten Tall Men (1951) - Mossul
- Thief of Damascus (1952) - Aladdin
- A New Kind of Love (1963) - Frenchman at restaurant
- New Faces (1954) - various songs and characters in this musical comedy revue, recreating his role from Broadway's New Faces of 1952
- The Hindenburg (1975) - Joe Späh
- Remembrance of Love (1982) – plays himself as an Auschwitz survivor
- Hogan's Heroes (1965-1971) - Corporal Louis LeBeau
- The Young and the Restless (1973-1979) – Pierre Roulland
- Days of Our Lives (1972-1973, 1975-1980, 1981-1983, 1986) - Robert LeClair
- Fantasy Island
- "Robert Clary Biography". Capitol Records. 1950. Retrieved 25 October 2012.
- The Buchenwald Report, prepared and finished three weeks after the liberation of Buchenwald by the Psychological Warfare Division of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force; first published in its entirety by Westview Press, with translation by David A. Hackett, 1999.
- Susan King (March 24, 2013). "Robert Clary a survivor in life and entertainment". Los Angeles Times.
- Clary, Robert. (2001). From the Holocaust to Hogan's Heroes. Madison Books. ISBN 1568332289.
- DVD Video. legacy Entertainment inc. Stars Kirk Douglas and Pam Dawber
- Robert Clary at the Internet Movie Database
- Robert Clary at AllMovie
- Robert Clary at the TCM Movie Database
- Interview with Clary about his experiences being arrested by the Germans during World War II - Filmed when the C-SPAN School Bus visited the Simon Wiesenthal Center Library & Archives, aired February 9, 1999
- Interview July, 2014 in the Victorville Daily Press