Robert Clary was born Robert Widerman in Paris on March 1, 1926. Like many of his fellow "Hogan's Heroes" co-stars, Robert was personally affected by the war. He was interned in Nazi concentration camps as a child.
By the end of 1949, he was a singing star in France, known for his distinctive vocal style and impish grin. He came to the U.S. the next year to promote his English-language recording, "Johnny, Get Your Girl," which he sang on a 1950 telecast of the CBS variety series "The Ed Wynn Show."
Robert was still learning English at the time, so Wynn's writers created a comedy skit that let him speak primarily in French. Robert was a big hit on Broadway in Leonard Stillman's "New Faces" revues of the 1950s, performing songs and skits that he later reprised in film (1954) and TV (1960) versions. In 1960, he starred in the U.S. national tour of the popular stage revue "La Plume De Ma Tante."
Like many of his "Hogan's Heroes" comrades, Robert had a game-show past. He was a regular panelist on both the CBS and ABC versions of "Pantomime Quiz" (1954-57). He returned to the show in 1962 (CBS), by which time it had been renamed "Stump the Stars." His most famous role, as "Hogan's Heroes" Corporal Louis LeBeau, kept him working from 1965 to 1971. Many of his future acting roles would be based around the war. For instance, he appeared in the 1975 all-star theatrical film "The Hindenburg," and had a supporting role in the 1982 TV movie "Remembrance of Love," about Holocaust survivors who rekindle a long-ago love affair.
Robert's career eventually made an ironic shift from World War II to the whimsical parts of two soap operas. In the 1970s, he played nightclub owner Pierre Rouland on CBS' "The Young and the Restless." In the 1980s he expanded his soap opera resume by adding the recurring role of Robert LeClair on NBC's "Days of Our Lives."