Clary Family Links
Robert's new autobiography published by Madison Books entitled FROM THE HOLOCAUST TO HOGAN'S HEROES. For the first time you can read about his whole life from his early days in France through his horrific time in the concentration camps to his success as an actor and entertainer. This incredible book can be purchased by sending me an email directly
Here are what some people are saying about it:
"A truly exciting journey filled with heartache, bravery, and comic joy. I couldn't put it down." -- Mel Brooks
"This is a book that sneaks up on you. I could barely read the end of the book through my tears." --Karl Malden
"Clary's tale of survival is inspirational."- Publishers Weekly "Robert Clary has lived two lives, and written two books-one horrific, one jaunty. They're both fascinating. . . . This is brave writing."- Tony Randall
"[Clary] has kept hundreds of thousands of young people around the world riveted with his story and now for the first time, has written a compelling, honest and thoughtful book worth reading by everyone."- Rabbi Marvin Hier, Founder and Dean, Simon Wiesenthal Center
"In Robert Clary we have an artist with the gift of song and dance, the gift for survival and the gift of telling his extraordinary story."- Alan & Marilyn Bergman, songwriters
"Nobody in show business has the resume of Robert Clary. From German concentration camps to Broadway and to television... it has been an amazing journey for him. He's still one of our most entertaining and energetic performers. I've only known him for fifty years, and I still couldn't put this book down."- Merv Griffin
"I always knew Robert was a good actor, but his autobiography tells me he's even a better writer. What a story!"- Jackie Cooper
"Robert Clary has come through hell with his humor, creativity, and incredible morale intact. His book records a victory of compassion over hatred, laughter over despair, artistic expression over agression."- Gene Reynolds, Director
"I would like to implore anyone of a younger generation who doubts the reality of the Holocaust to read this book. It touched me deeply."- Dick van Dyke
"The 'Amazing' Clary has constantly been full of fun; energetic and always zestful. I read his book and for me it was the Holocaust right into my Heart! . . . BRAVO!"- Dom DeLuise
"There are many stories of survivors, but not many as riveting as the one that Robert Clary tells in his autobiography. The Nazis captured him and tried to kill him, but he survived them and went on to capture and kill audiences all over the world."- Carl Reiner, Director, actor, and writer
"What an inspiration! With eloquent directness Robert Clary pours it out-- the journey from innocence to knowledge, from nostalgia to heartache, from Parisian provincialism to a truly global Weltanschauung-- and all expressed with a crackling wryness, the survivor's most precious possession." - Bill Hayes
Archerd: ``Hogan's Heroes'' co-star relives Holocaust By Army Archerd, Daily Variety Senior Columnist HOLLYWOOD (Variety) - Fade in: Sept. 25, 1942. Interior of a cattle car. It is filled with the old moaning in pain, babies crying out in fear. It is hot in Paris. The heat in the cattle car is unbearable. The stench from the one uncovered bucket is sickening. A mother asks her 16-year-old son to write a letter to his brother, who was not captured with the rest of his family. The boy finds paper and pencil among the few things he was able to grab when ordered out -- in 10 minutes -- from their apartment. He wrote: ``We are in sealed cattle cars and frightful things are happening in them that I hope you will never see. We have lots of courage and hope to come back alive amongst you.'' He ended with, ``I have only one wish, it is to be able to see all of you again one day soon.'' He put the letter in an addressed envelope and dropped it out of one of the train car's slats. I am writing about the above real-life scene after seeing ``Charlotte Gray,'' WB's too-true-to-life drama based on the novel by Sebastian Faulks. A final scene has an emotionally destroyed Cate Blanchett, racing along a departing train filled with French Jews, some very old, and many young, very young. Blanchett finds the car with the elderly Michael Gambon comforting two children whose parents, we already know, have been murdered by the Germans. Blanchett slides a letter through the car's slats. It is to give them courage. I guarantee you will not be dry-eyed when you see ``Charlotte Gray'' and hear Gambon reading this letter. Why, you may ask, am I telling you about these two letters? Robert Clary has just sent me a copy of ``From the Holocaust to Hogan's Heroes.'' It is his story -- he was the 16-year-old who wrote the first letter when on his way to the first of the Nazi death camps that he miraculously survived. And he, too, has seen ``Charlotte Gray'' and he says ``that'' scene of Gambon and the small children in the cattle car ``reminded me of what I went through.'' He is the only one of 12 in his immediate family who lived through the Nazi death camps. He was liberated April 11, 1945, from Buchenwald and returned to France on May 3, 1945. And what about the letter he'd dropped from the death train? Someone picked it up along the tracks and got it to Clary's brother -- the last he was to hear of him until he was liberated. And he remained too emotional from the experience to reread his letter. It wasn't until 1981 that he was able to face looking at his note -- and reliving the horror. And, Clary writes, it was 36 years ``of silence'' before he would talk about that experience again -- it was on Merv Griffin's show. He says he did it because of his rising anger over the so-called revisionists who were denying the Holocaust. Clary had meanwhile made a career for himself in the U.S. and in Hollywood as a co-star of the hit comedy series ``Hogan's Heroes.'' Clary says he was able to be a part of this setting because its Nazis were buffoons. ``Every week we made fools of our captors.'' He further tells me, ``As an actor, you have to be able to put yourself in a role. And we were not dealing with concentration camp situations in this show.'' Clary went on from the series to star for years in three soaps: ``The Young and the Restless,'' ``Days of Our Lives'' and ``The Bold and the Beautiful.'' He appeared in many features, nine stage musicals and puts out a CD annually in tribute to song/lyric writers. His next platter is a tribute to Harry Warren and Jule Styne with their songs including ``I Fall in Love Too Easily,'' ``Everything's Coming Up Roses,'' ``Time After Time,'' etc. Clary's a speaker for the Wiesenthal Center and the Shoah Foundation. He will appear with his ``From the Holocaust to Hogan's Heroes'' at Barnes & Noble in Westwood, Feb. 26. He is 75, has three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Natalie, to whom he was married 47 years, died in 1997. He says she was his ``pillar of strength.''
San Antonio Express-News, March 19, 2002
Robert Clary didn't set out to write his autobiography. He was actually planning a one-man show in which the first half dealt with Maurice Chevalier and the second Toulouse-Lautrec.
But the actor best known for his role as Louis Lebeau on "Hogan's Heroes" kept returning to his own story. After months of planning, he realized, "This is not a play, this is a book."
And so Clary's memoir, "From the Holocaust to 'Hogan's Heroes"' (Madison Books, $26.95), was born. As the title suggests, the actor's life hasn't always been like a sitcom. He was born Robert Max Widerman in Paris in 1926, not the best time for anyone who was Jewish because the Nazis' rise to power was only a few years away.
At age 16, he was separated from his family, deported and eventually incarcerated in several concentration camps. "Gone was Robert Max Widerman," he writes. "I was just A-5714, a number on my arm."
The liberation of 1945 was one of body, not necessarily spirit, as Clary soon learned his parents, two sisters, two half-sisters and two nephews had not survived. Neither had Clary's faith. "After I found out that none of my family who was deported came back, my prayers ended, and so did my belief in God," he writes. "What did my parents, who were extremely religious, my sisters and the rest of my family do to deserve such an end to their lives? Where is the justice? These gentle people who tried to make decent lives for themselves -- why would God take them away so cruelly? To teach a lesson? Nothing has been learned from their deaths. Man's inhumanity to man still exists."
Clary came to the United States after the war and found work as a singer. He first gained attention in the revue "New Faces of 1952," which also introduced Eartha Kitt, Alice Ghostley, Paul Lynde, Carol Lawrence and Ronny Graham as well as the writing talent of Mel Brooks and Sheldon Harnick, who would go on to write "Fiddler on the Roof."
In 1965, he was cast in "Hogan's Heroes" without having to read for the part. It would make his Gallic charm and accent known worldwide. Younger audiences know it today, though the show left the air in 1971, and Lebeau remains Clary's alter ego.
"The show never died," Clary said in a telephone interview from his home in Beverly Hills, Calif., explaining that it went straight from first-run into syndication. Then, it went to cable, where it can be found today.
"When the show went on the air, people asked me if I had any qualms about doing a comedy series dealing with Nazis and concentration camps," he writes. "I had to explain that it was about prisoners of war in a stalag, not a concentration camp, and although I did not want to diminish what soldiers went through during their internments, it was like night and day from what people endured in concentration camps."
In the early 1980s, Clary began lecturing about the Holocaust and his experiences. Now that his story is down on paper, he has retired from the lecture circuit. "It's always tough when you talk about your next of kin going to the gas chambers," he says. Clary's readers will get that message and more: "I am very proud to be Jewish," he writes. "It really makes me want to teach people about the Holocaust, so that history will not be repeated."
In his 70s, Clary hasn't completely retired. He's an active painter, and every year for the past few years, he has released a new jazz album focusing on some of America's great songwriters, including Rodgers and Hart, Irving Berlin, Johnny Mercer, Frank Loesser, Ira Gershwin and Jerome Kern.
Though the albums have garnered good reviews, Clary received his most cherished piece of feedback after the release of the lengthily titled "Louis Lebeau Remembers Cole Porter, Not Stephen Sondheim (But Sings Their Songs Anyway)."
"I got the most lovely note from Stephen Sondheim," he says, still amazed. It said that while not everyone has been successful in finding the jazz element in his music, Clary's renditions were "perfect. A week (later), I'm still looking at this."
I urge you to read Robert Clary's memoir, From the Holocaust to Hogan's Heroes. It is available at bookstores as well as the online sites. I've been an admirer of Robert's talent since New Faces of 1952; he was cast in the musical version of "Seventh Heaven" that I worked on. We've known each other in passing in the ensuing years. Often I see him at screenings of the Motion Picture Academy, where he always has a small bag of candy to pass out to his friends and those around him. Though I had always heard that he was a victim of the Nazis when he was a teen-ager, until I read his book, I had no idea what he went through. What is particularly impressive to me is that though those unspeakable years must have been pure hell, in his telling of his story, he never seeks pity. That he came through the Holocaust the man of talent he is, he is to be greatly admired. His book is truly a must read.
Every survivor of the Holocaust has a story to tell. One of the most interesting is Robert Clary's in his autobiography "From The Holocaust To Hogan's Heroes." His story brings tears to one's eyes and without histrionics, proclaims the life spirit that doesn't quit. Lest we forget, he has written a testimony to one man's quest for life.
From a fan...
Congratulations on having written such an engrossing, touching, lively and unforgettable story. What impressed me most of all, though, was your way of telling your story. You have a wonderfully genuine, candid, straightforward style of writing. I felt like I was settling in to be told a story by a friend rather than reading a book. You let the humor, joy, sorrow, atrocity or excitement speak for itself without dramatic embellishments. Your words were concise and meaningful, and when you spoke of your emotions or reactions, your words had impact because they were genuine, from the heart, and not carefully plotted to make up pretentious "pretty prose". There is very little profound I could say about the experiences you shared from your time in the camps, except that I admire so much your courage to not only revisit those days for the purposes of this book, but to devote so much of your life to spreading the message about the Holocaust and the horrific reality of it. We all owe a great deal to people like you who are willing to endure the emotional toll of reliving those memories to make sure the world never forgets, and hopefully, to help us learn something from those six million-plus lost lives. Thank you so much for sharing what was a magnificent reading experience. The story touched me deeply at times, and had me laughing out loud at others. I enjoyed it immensely.