Robert Clary, who played beret-clad French chef Corporal Louis LeBeau on the CBS sitcom Hogan’s Heroes, has died at the age of 96, his granddaughter confirms to The Hollywood Reporter.
Born in France, Clary was actually sent to a Nazi concentration camp as a teenager during World War II because he was Jewish. He survived, though, which he credited to his ability to entertain the German troops by singing and dancing. After the war, he recorded music and appeared on Broadway before landing the role of LeBeau on Hogan’s Heroes, which debuted on CBS in 1965.
The sitcom, ironically, was set at a prisoner-of-war camp in Nazi Germany during World War II; LeBeau explained that he had no problem with the premise because there was “a world of difference” between the show’s POW camp and the real concentration camp where he was held. Clary’s LeBeau and his fellow POWs — including Bob Crane’s Colonel Hogan and Richard Dawson’s Corporal Newkirk — schemed to help the Allied war effort by outsmarting their German captor Colonel Klink with the help of the complicit Sergeant Schultz, who was often won over by LeBeau’s cooking.
Clary starred as LeBeau in all six seasons of Hogan’s Heroes, which wrapped up its CBS run in 1971. Clary later appeared on the daytime soap Days of Our Lives as Robert LeClair, with additional roles on The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful.