Last of the ‘Hogan’s Heroes’ Dies at 96: Actor’s Life Shockingly Close to Show’s Plot

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Robert Clary, a French-born survivor of Nazi concentration camps during World War II who played a feisty prisoner of war in the improbable 1960s sitcom “Hogan’s Heroes,” has died. He was 96.

Clary died during the night Wednesday of natural causes at his home in Beverly Hills, niece Brenda Hancock said Thursday.

“He never let those horrors defeat him,” Hancock said of Clary’s wartime experiences as a youth. “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.”

When he recounted his life to students, he told them, “Don’t ever hate,” Hancock said. “He didn’t let hate overcome the beauty in this world.”

“Hogan’s Heroes,” in which Allied soldiers in a POW camp bested their clownish German army captors with espionage schemes, played the war strictly for laughs during its 1965-71 run. The 5-foot-1 Clary sported a beret and a sardonic smile as Cpl. Louis LeBeau.

Clary was the last surviving original star of the sitcom that included Bob Crane, Richard Dawson, Larry Hovis and Ivan Dixon as the prisoners. Werner Klemperer and John Banner, who played their captors, both were European Jews who fled Nazi persecution before the war.

Clary began his career as a nightclub singer and appeared on stage in musicals including “Irma La Douce” and “Cabaret.” After “Hogan’s Heroes,” Clary’s TV work included the soap operas “The Young and the Restless,” “Days of Our Lives” and “The Bold and the Beautiful.”

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