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Robert Gerard Goulet (November 26, 1933 – October 30, 2007) was a Canadian-American entertainer. He rose to international stardom in 1960 as Lancelot in Lerner and Loewe's hit Broadway musical Camelot. His long career as a singer and actor encompassed theatre, radio, television and film.


Early life

Goulet was born in Lawrence, Massachusetts, the only son of French Canadian parents Jeanette (née Gauthier) and Joseph Georges André Goulet, a laborer.[1] Through his father he was a descendant of Zacharie Cloutier.[2] Shortly after his father's death, 13-year-old Robert moved with his mother and sister Claire to Girouxville, Alberta, and he spent his formative years in Canada.[3]

Goulet's rise to fame started at the age of five when his aunts and uncles blackened his face with burnt cork and prompted him to do Al Jolson impressions. Though his performance was well-received by his relatives, the experience was deeply traumatic for the young Goulet, and left him with performance anxiety which plagued him for many years. Despite this stage fright, Goulet was encouraged by his parents to continue performing.

After living in Girouxville, Alberta, for several years, they moved to the provincial capital of Edmonton to take advantage of the performance opportunities offered in the city. There, he attended the famous voice schools founded by Herbert G. Turner and Jean Letourneau, and later became a radio announcer for radio station CKUA. Upon graduating from Victoria Composite high school, Goulet received a scholarship to The Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. There, he studied voice with famed oratorio baritones, George Lambert[disambiguation needed] and Ernesto Vinci.

In 1952, he competed in CBC Television's Pick The Stars, ultimately making the semifinals. This led to other network appearances on shows like Singing Stars of Tomorrow, Opportunity Knocks, and the Canadian version of Howdy Doody in which he starred opposite William Shatner.[4]

Rise to stardom

In 1959, Goulet was introduced to librettist Alan Jay Lerner and composer Frederick Loewe, who were having difficulty casting the role of Lancelot in their stage production Camelot. Lerner and Loewe, impressed by Goulet's talent, signed the virtual newcomer to play the part, opposite Richard Burton (King Arthur) and Julie Andrews (Queen Guenevere).

In October 1960, Camelot opened in Toronto, ran for a four-week engagement in Boston, and finally opened on Broadway two months later. Goulet received favorable reviews, most notably for his show-stopping romantic ballad, "If Ever I Would Leave You" which would become his signature song.[5] After the run of Camelot', Goulet appeared on The Danny Thomas Show and The Ed Sullivan Show, which made him a household name among American audiences. In 1962, Goulet made a memorable appearance on The Jack Paar Show with fellow guest Judy Garland. He also would win a Grammy Award as Best New Artist in 1962.

On May 25, 1965, Goulet mangled the lyrics to the United States National Anthem at the opening of the Muhammad Ali-Sonny Liston heavyweight championship fight in Lewiston, Maine. Goulet had never sung the anthem in public before, and replaced the lyrics "dawn's early light" with "dawn's early night". The gaffe was reported in newspapers nationwide the next morning, and Goulet was criticized in opinion columns for a lack of knowledge of the lyrics.[6] Goulet also had his biggest pop hit in this year, when his single "My Love, Forgive Me" reached #16 on the Billboard Hot 100.

In 1966, Goulet starred as a double agent in the short-lived ABC World War II television series, Blue Light.

Entertainment career

File:Robert Goulet.jpg

Robert Goulet in 1988

In 1968, Goulet was on Broadway in the Kander and Ebb musical The Happy Time and won a Tony Award as Best Actor in a Musical for his role. In 2005 he starred in the Broadway revival of Jerry Herman's La Cage aux Folles. Goulet began a recording career with Columbia Records in 1962, which resulted in more than 40 best selling albums.

He also toured in several musicals, including Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel, where he portrayed Billy Bigelow, a role he also played in 1967 in a made-for-television adaptation of the musical. This version aired only a year after the first telecast of the 1956 film version on ABC.

He also starred in television versions of Brigadoon (1966, a production which won several Emmy Awards), and Kiss Me Kate, opposite his then-wife Carol Lawrence (1968). These other two productions were also presented by ABC, but none of them has been rebroadcast since the 1960s or released on video. All three were shot on videotape rather than film.

Goulet's first film performance was released in 1962: the UPA (United Productions of America) animated musical feature Gay Purr-ee, in which he provided the voice of the male lead character, 'Jaune Tom', opposite the female lead character, "Mewsette', which was voiced by Judy Garland. His first non-singing acting role was in Honeymoon Hotel (1964), but it was not until a cameo appearance as a singer in Louis Malle's film, Atlantic City (1980) that Goulet was given critical acclaim. He recorded the song "Atlantic City (My Old Friend)" for Applause Records in 1981.

In 1988 he was cast by Tim Burton as a houseguest blown through the roof by Beetlejuice and also played himself in Bill Murray's Scrooged (both 1988). In 1990 he sang the Canadian national anthem at the beginning of "WrestleMania VI", which was held at the Skydome in Toronto, Ontario. Shortly after, he produced an unsuccessful musical with his brothers, Red Ships of Spain.

In 1991, Goulet starred, along with John Putch and Hillary Bailey Smith, in the unsold television series pilot Acting Sheriff. That same year, he appeared as Quentin Hapsburg, opposite Leslie Nielsen, in the comedy The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear. (He also had a cameo in the 1982 TV series Police Squad, in the episode "The Butler Did It (A Bird in the Hand)", where, as "Special Guest Star", he died by firing squad in the opening credits. The television series spawned The Naked Gun film series).

In 1992, Goulet made an uncredited appearance as the piano player who suffers agonizing injuries in the "Weird Al" Yankovic video for "You Don't Love Me Anymore".

He starred as King Arthur in "Camelot" in a 1992 national tour and returned to Broadway in 1993 with the same production.

In 1993, he played himself in the The Simpsons episode "$pringfield". In that episode, Bart Simpson booked him into his own casino (actually Bart's treehouse), where he sang "Jingle Bells (Batman Smells)".

In 1996, he appeared in Ellen DeGeneres' first starring vehicle, Mr. Wrong, as an insecure TV host.

He returned to Broadway again in Moon Over Buffalo (1996) with co-star Lynn Redgrave.

Goulet also provided the singing voice of Wheezy the penguin in the Vegas-style finale from the 1999 Pixar film, Toy Story 2; singing a new version of the original You've Got a Friend in Me at the end of the movie. In 2000, he played himself on two episodes of the Robert Smigel series TV Funhouse; as a sort of mentor to the show's animal puppet troupe, he was the only character who had the respect of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. Goulet has also appeared in the Disney cartoon Recess, as the singing voice for Mikey Blumberg, in few episodes, also in the film Recess: School's Out.


In 1978, he sang "You Light Up My Life" at the Miss Universe Pageant to the five finalists. Goulet played Don Quixote in the 1997–98 U.S. national tour of Man of La Mancha. In 2003, Goulet sang the theme song to the talk show Jimmy Kimmel Live!.

Goulet was also featured in an Emerald Nuts advertising campaign in 2006, as he starred in a television commercial that debuted during Super Bowl XL and maintained a consistent presence up until his death. In 2006, Goulet appeared in an episode ("Sold'y Locks") of The King of Queens as himself.

Personal life

File:Robert Goulet star on Walk of Fame.jpg

Robert Goulet's star on Canada's Walk of Fame.

Goulet and his first wife Louise Longmore had one daughter, Nicolette (died April 17, 2008). He had two sons, Christopher and Michael by his second wife, actress/singer Carol Lawrence. In 1982 he married Vera Novak artist/writer in Las Vegas, Nevada. She was his business partner and manager. Goulet sang the American anthem on Friday, August 8, 2003, when Vera Goulet was sworn in as a citizen of the United States in Las Vegas. Vera Novak Goulet had been born in Macedonia, escaping from the former Yugoslavia to England with her mother.[citation needed]

In 2006 he received a star on Canada's Walk of Fame. He always wanted to have dual citizenship and in the last year of his life he was seeking Canadian citizenship, with the help of Albertan senator Tommy Banks.

Illness and death

On September 30, 2007, Goulet was hospitalized in Las Vegas, where he was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, "a rare but rapidly progressive and potentially fatal condition." On October 13, 2007, he was transferred to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles after it was determined he "would not survive without an emergency lung transplant." [7]

Goulet died on October 30, 2007, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, while awaiting a lung transplant. He was cremated. Goulet was less than a month shy of his 74th birthday.[8][9][10]

Popular culture references

  • In 2008, The American Mustache Institute named an award after Goulet called the "Robert Goulet Mustached American of the Year" award recognizing the most impactful Mustached American of the past year.
  • Goulet was regularly parodied by Saturday Night Live cast member Will Ferrell, selling ridiculous merchandise, such as the "Robert Goulet cell phone" — a phone encased in an exact replica of Goulet's head — to pay off debts to criminal organizations.
  • In the episode $pringfield of The Simpsons, Goulet appears voiced by himself, tricked by Bart to perform in Bart's treehouse (a children's casino in this particular episode.)
  • In another episode, Homer of Seville, the famous song "If I Ever Would Leave You" is sung by Homer after he discovered his singing talent that he can only 'use' while lying on his back.
  • Meat Loaf mentioned Goulet in his VH1 Storytellers Special when he described the production story behind the production of Paradise by the Dashboard Light.
  • He appears in an episode of Boy Meets World, serenading Cory Matthews and others while they serve detention.
  • Goulet appeared on an episode of Two Guys and a Girl (Season 3 Episode 12) as himself, where he performs at the New Year's Eve party. He made a second appearance in the final episode of the third season where he served as the minister at Johnny and Sharon's wedding.
  • Goulet was referred to in the musical, A Chorus Line, in the songs "Montage 1" and "Montage 2"
  • Goulet was featured in an Emerald Nuts commercial, where he is portrayed as an office boogeyman who appears "around 3:00 p.m. when your blood sugar and energy are low, and messes with your stuff..."
  • In the third season of Las Vegas titled "Bold, Beautiful, and Blue" he guest starred as himself hired by the new owner of the fictional Montecito Casino to apologize and help bring back James Caan's character.
  • Goulet appeared in the episode "Sold-y Locks" of The King of Queens in 2006 as himself singing on a cruise ship. He helps Doug obtain a wig for Carrie.
  • Robert Goulet did a series of humorous commercials for ESPN in the early 1990s for the NCAA Basketball tournament games.
  • The special of My Gym Partner's A Monkey, "Animal School Musical", a parody of High School Musical, had the message, "In memory, Robert Goulet" at the end of the show before the credits began rolling.
  • He was mentioned at a Dethklok concert, three days after his death, before the song "Fansong", in which "frontman" Brendan Small jokingly refers to him as "someone who's influenced a lot of death metal."[11]
  • The comic-book Groo the Wanderer (vol 1 #6, 1983) suggests that author Sergio Aragonés depicted the likeness of Goulet as The Sage, one of the characters.
  • Robert Goulet's old driver's license appears on an episode of History Channel's Pawn Stars.[12]

Hit singles

Year Single Chart positions
1962 "What Kind of Fool Am I?" 89 -
1963 "Two of Us" 132 -
1964 "My Love, Forgive Me (Amore, Scusami)" 16 2
"I'd Rather Be Rich" 131 -
1965 "Begin To Love" 110 -
"Summer Sounds" 58 14
"Come Back To Me, My Love" 118 5
"On a Clear Day You Can See Forever" 119 13
1966 "Why Be Ashamed" - 28
"Young Only Yesterday" - 37
"Daydreamer" - 22
"Once I Had a Heart" - 15
1967 "World of Clowns" - 20
"One Life, One Dream" - 33
"The Sinner" - 29
1968 "The Happy Time" - 33
"What a Wonderful World" - 26
"Thirty Days Hath September" - 17
1969 "Didn't We" - 33


Columbia Records (except as noted):

  • Always You, 1962
  • Two of Us, 1962
  • Sincerely Yours, 1962
  • The Wonderful World of Love, 1963
  • Annie Get Your Gun, studio cast, with Doris Day, 1963
  • In Person, 1963
  • This Christmas I Spend with You, 1963
  • Without You, 1964
  • Manhattan Tower, 1964
  • My Love, Forgive Me, 1964 (#22 Canada)
  • Summer Sounds, 1965
  • On Broadway, 1965
  • I Remember You, 1966
  • Travelin' On Tour, 1966
  • On Broadway Volume 2, 1967
  • Hollywood Mon Amour, 1967
  • Woman, Woman, 1968
  • Both Sides Now 1968
  • Come Back To Sorrento 1969
  • Today's Greatest Hits, 1970
  • Robert Goulet's Wonderful World of Christmas, 1968
  • I Never Did as I Was Told, MGM Records, 1971
  • After All Is Said And Done, 1976
  • Close to You, Applause Records, 1982


  • Gay Purr-ee (1962) (voice)
  • Honeymoon Hotel (1964)
  • I'd Rather Be Rich (1964)
  • The Daydreamer (1966) (voice)
  • I Deal in Danger (1966)
  • Underground (1970)
  • Atlantic City (1980)
  • Mr. Belvedere (2 episodes)
  • Beetlejuice (1988)
  • Scrooged (1988) (cameo)
  • The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear (1991)
  • Mr. Wrong (1996)
  • Boy Meets World
  • Toy Story 2 (1999) (singing voice)
  • The Last Producer (2000)
  • Two Guys and a Girl (2000)
  • G-Men from Hell (2000)
  • Recess: School's Out (2001) (Mikey's singing voice)
  • Broadway: The Golden Age, by the Legends Who Were There (2003) (documentary)
  • Las Vegas (2005) (cameo)
  • The King of Queens (2006)


  1. "Robert Goulet Biography". filmreference. 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-08. 
  3. Vera Goulet (2008). "Robert Goulet Biography". Robert Goulet's Official Website. Archived from the original on 2008-05-26. Retrieved 2008-06-08. 
  4. "Howdy-Doody". TVArchive. 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-07. 
  5. William Ruhlmann (2002). "Review: Robert Goulet - Always work=Allmusic". Retrieved 2008-06-07. 
  6. The Associated Press (2007). "Robert Goulet is remembered in Maine town for anthem rendition at Ali-Liston title fight". International Herald Tribune. Retrieved 2008-06-07. 
  7. Robert Goulet In Dire Need Of Lung Transplant
  8. Singer Robert Goulet Dies at 73. Fox News. October 30, 2007.
  9. Nguyen, Daisy (2007-10-30). "Singer Robert Goulet Dies at 73". Associated Press, San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-10-30. 
  10. Martin, Douglas (2007-10-30). "Robert Goulet, Actor, Dies at 73". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-10-30. 

External links

  1. REDIRECT Template:IMDb name
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Peter Nero
Grammy Award for Best New Artist
Succeeded by
The Swingle Singers
Preceded by
Nancy Dussault
for Do Re Mi
Theatre World Award
for Camelot
Succeeded by
Joan Hackett
for Call Me By My Rightful Name

Template:Grammy Award for Best New Artist

  1. REDIRECT Template:TonyAward MusicalLeadActor 1948–1975

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