Actor Robert Clary’s LeBeau could be inserted into the band pretty much as he appears in Hogan’s Heroes. That ratty red sweater LeBeau was wearing in the 1940s of the 1960s’ show’s setting would have looked vintage hip in a show actually set in the late-’60s. LeBeau could have continued to don his beret and even wear the occasional chef’s hat, although on The Monkees it would be implied that his favor-winning strudels contained an extra herbal ingredient.
LeBeau’s hats would have helped keep Nesmith, the show’s lone hat wearer’s, ego in check. Successful bands of the time could accommodate two hat-wearing members. Nesmith’s hat dominance in the actual lineup of The Monkees provided him a sense of Papa John Phillips entitlement. The actual Monkees were forced to occupy specific, isolated roles, which led to much frustration over time and the eventual departure of the actual studio musicians who played on the records followed by the actual fake band members. Add LeBeau’s hats to the mix and The Monkees would have established a more fluid, democratic sense of hat power, along the lines of Buffalo Springfield and The Band, two contemporaries in the music world who accommodated multiple hat wearers.
Although tiny, foreign-accented LeBeau would have been just as capable of inducing Cute Attacks in the show’s female viewers, LeBeau also would have played to the guys. He’s a rascal! He’s just as capable of stirring up trouble as he is picking up a cane and doing a tap dance. LeBeau’s rascally powers would have tempered Mickey’s propensity for going rascal. Think of how Hogan’s barracks full of rascals played off each other. Think of how such interplay on The Monkees TV show would have translated to their Brill Building/studio musician–concocted recordings. Think of “Daydream Believer” sung by Clary in more of a sophisticated, world-wear Jacques Brel vein. Nevertheless, the little girls would understand.