Robert Gérard Goulet (November 26, 1933 – October 30, 2007) was an American singer and actor of French-Canadian ancestry. Goulet was born and raised in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Cast as Sir Lancelot and originating the role in the 1960 Broadway musical Camelot starring opposite established Broadway stars Richard Burton and Julie Andrews, he achieved instant recognition with his performance and interpretation of the song "If Ever I Would Leave You", which became his signature song. His debut in Camelot marked the beginning of a stage, screen, and recording career. A Grammy Award and Tony Award winner, his career spanned almost six decades.
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Goulet was born in Lawrence, Massachusetts, on Greenwood Street in the Tower Hill section, the only son of Jeanette (née Gauthier) and Joseph Georges André Goulet, a laborer. His parents were both of French Canadian ancestry. He was a descendant of French-Canadian pioneers Zacharie Cloutier and Jacques Goulet. Shortly after his father's death, 13-year-old Goulet moved with his mother and sister Claire to Girouxville, Alberta, and he spent his formative years in Canada.
After living in Girouxville 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 voice schools founded by Herbert G. Turner and Jean Létourneau, 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, where he studied voice with oratorio baritones George Lambert 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, Juliette, and the Canadian version of Howdy Doody in which he starred opposite William Shatner.
Goulet's first U.S. bookings were in summer stock theatre with the Kenley Players. He appeared in eight productions, including Pajama Game (1959), Bells Are Ringing (1959), Dream Girl (1959), South Pacific (1960), Meet Me in St. Louis (1960) and Carousel (1960). John Kenley came to his dressing room after the opening of Pajama Game and gave him a raise, saying it was "because he knew he could never afford to again", Goulet said in 2006. "He was right." Goulet repeated his role in South Pacific for Kenley in a 1995 production.
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). Camelot opened in Toronto in October 1960. It then played 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.
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. On December 7, 1962, Goulet made an appearance on The Jack Paar Show with Judy Garland to promote their animated film, Gay Purr-ee. 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 second Muhammad Ali-Sonny Liston heavyweight championship fight in Lewiston, Maine. Goulet had never sung the anthem in public before, and replaced the lyric "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. The anthem lasted longer than the fight, which was over early in the first round. Goulet also had his biggest pop hit in this year, when his single "My Love, Forgive Me" reached No. 16 on the Billboard Hot 100.
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In 1966, Goulet starred in the television series Blue Light, in which he played a journalist working undercover in Nazi Germany as a spy on behalf of the Allies. The series ran for 17 episodes between January 12, 1966 and May 18, 1966. In December 1966, a theatrical film starring Goulet, I Deal in Danger, was released, made up of the first four episodes of Blue Light edited together.
In 1968, Goulet was back on Broadway in the Kander and Ebb musical The Happy Time. He won a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his role. John Serry Sr. collaborated as the orchestral accordionist. 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 60 best selling albums.
He also toured in several musicals, including Camelot as Sir Lancelot, Man of La Mancha, Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific, 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 television telecast of the 1956 film version. He also starred in a 1966 television version of Brigadoon, which won several Emmy Awards, and Kiss Me Kate in 1968, opposite his then-wife Carol Lawrence. All three were produced by Goulet's company Rogo Productions and aired on ABC, but none have been rebroadcast since the 1960s or released on video. All three were recorded on videotape rather than film.
Goulet guest starred on The Lucy Show in 1967 as himself and two additional characters who entered a Robert Goulet look-alike contest. In 1972, he played a lead villain in the season finale of television original Mission: Impossible. Goulet was featured in a two-part episode of the sitcom Alice during the 1981 season, again playing himself. The plot involves Mel (Vic Tayback) and the girls winning a free trip to Las Vegas, and while there, losing his diner in a gambling spree. Alice (Linda Lavin) plans to impersonate Goulet in an effort to persuade the casino owner to return the diner to Mel. The real Goulet appears and sings a duet with the (much shorter) fake Robert Goulet portrayed by Alice.
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', voiced by Judy Garland. His first non-singing 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, Tim Burton cast him as a houseguest blown through the roof by Beetlejuice and also played himself in Bill Murray's Scrooged (both 1988). He performed the Canadian national anthem to open "WrestleMania VI" at SkyDome in Toronto in 1990. Goulet also made several appearances on the ABC sitcom Mr. Belvedere during its five-year run.
In 1991, Goulet starred, 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 film The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear. This followed a cameo in the 1982 TV series Police Squad!. In the episode "The Butler Did It (A Bird in the Hand)", as "Special Guest Star", he died by firing squad during 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". That same year, Goulet guest-starred as country music singer Eddie Larren in an episode of the TV series In the Heat of the Night, "When the Music Stopped".
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 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)".
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In 1996, Goulet appeared in Ellen DeGeneres' first starring movie, Mr. Wrong, as an insecure TV host; and he returned to Broadway in Moon Over Buffalo, co-starring Lynn Redgrave. He provided the singing voice of Wheezy the penguin in the big band-style finale of the 1999 Pixar film Toy Story 2, singing a new version of "You've Got a Friend in Me".
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 also appeared in the Disney animated series Recess, as the singing voice for Mikey Blumberg, and in the film Recess: School's Out.
In 2005, he appeared on the Broadway stage for the last time as a mid-run replacement in La Cage aux Folles and found critical success once again. Clive Barnes of The New York Post wrote of his performance:
Goulet's still radiant grin is in better shape than his joints, giving his movements rather less grace than before. But when he sings, or even speaks, the years fall away. His gorgeous voice seems untouched by time, and his dapper presence fills the stage... With Robert Goulet's new, expansively embracing Georges, Beach seems revitalized, appearing to find a passion and pathos in the role previously eluding him.
His last public performance was on the PBS televised special, My Music: 50's Pop Parade, broadcast on August 1, 2007, in which he sang "Sunrise, Sunset" and "If Ever I Would Leave You".
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 and recorded the theme song for the talk show Jimmy Kimmel Live! in 2003. His commercial work included a 30-second spot for the 1998 Mercedes-Benz C-Class, showing him in different costumes (toll collector, construction worker, meter maid, etc.), all while singing "It's Impossible"; and an Emerald Nuts television advertising campaign in 2006, which debuted during Super Bowl XL and continued until his death. In 2006, he appeared in an episode ("Sold'y Locks") of The King of Queens as himself.
Goulet and his first wife Louise Longmore had one daughter, Nicolette (died April 17, 2008), who gave birth to his two grandchildren, Solange-Louise and Jordan Gerard. He had two sons, Christopher (b. 1964) and Michael (b. 1966), by his second wife, actress and singer Carol Lawrence.
In 1982, he married artist and writer Vera Novak in Las Vegas, Nevada. Novak, who was born in Bitola, Macedonia, was also his business partner and manager. He sang "God Bless America" on Friday, August 8, 2003, when she was sworn in as a citizen of the United States in Las Vegas.
Goulet died from pulmonary fibrosis on October 30, 2007, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center while awaiting a lung transplant. Theater marquees in New York and in cities across North America were dimmed in his memory on Wednesday, October 31, 2007. On Friday November 9, 2007, the day of his funeral, Las Vegas honored Goulet by closing the Las Vegas Strip for his funeral procession. Several venues also posted his name on their marquees as a final tribute.
In the later 1990s, Goulet was often subject to parody in Saturday Night Live skits in which he was portrayed by comedian Will Ferrell. In one segment Will Ferrell, portraying Goulet, performed several songs from a farce compilation album titled Coconut Bangers Ball: It's A Rap! Ferrell performed "Big Poppa" by The Notorious B.I.G., as well as the "Thong Song" by Sisqo, in a mock crooning style similar to that of Goulet. He is also known for singing the theme song for the talk show Jimmy Kimmel Live!, which he recorded in 2003.
The American Mustache Institute presents The Robert Goulet Memorial Mustached American of the Year Award to the person who best-represents or contributes to the Mustached American community during that year.
A professional entertainer doesn't give any less of himself just because the audience gets a little smaller. What Robert Goulet taught us ... is that people who've been up and down are more interesting than people who are on their way up and think that's the only direction life has. ... He worked hard; he made people happy.
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|1961||"I'm Just Taking My Time"
b/w "One Life"
b/w "Two Different Worlds" (from My Love Forgive Me)
|"What Kind of Fool Am I?"
b/w "Where Do I Go From Here" (from Two Of Us)
|89||–||My Love Forgive Me|
|"Don't Be Afraid Of Romance"
b/w "Young At Love"
|1963||"Two Of Us"
b/w "(These Are) The Closing Credits" (Non-album track)
|132||–||Two Of Us|
|"Believe In Me"
b/w "How Very Special You Are"
|"Under The Yum Yum Tree"
b/w "If You Go"
|1964||"The Name Of The Game"
b/w "Seventh Dawn" (Non-album track)
|–||–||My Love Forgive Me|
|"My Love, Forgive Me (Amore, scusami)" /||16||2|
|"I'd Rather Be Rich"||131||–||Non-album track|
|1965||"Begin To Love"
b/w "I Never Got To Paris"
|110||–||Begin To Love|
b/w "The More I See Of Mimi" (from Begin To Love)
|"Come Back To Me, My Love" /||118||5||On Broadway|
|"On A Clear Day You Can See Forever"||119||13|
b/w "Crazy Heart Of Mine"
|1966||"Why Be Ashamed" /||–||28|
|"Young Only Yesterday"||–||37||I Remember You|
|"Daydreamer" (from The Daydreamer (soundtrack))
b/w "My Best Girl"
|"Once I Had A Heart"
b/w "I Hear A Different Drummer"
|"There But For You Go I"
b/w "Fortissimo" (from Robert Goulet's Greatest Hits)
|–||–||On Broadway, Volume 2|
|1967||"World of Clowns"
b/w "Ciao Compare" (from On Broadway, Volume 2)
|"One Life, One Dream"
b/w "There's A Way"
b/w "How Can I Leave You"
|"Mon Amour, Mon Amour"
b/w "This Year"
|"If Ever I Would Leave You"
b/w "Follow Me"
|1968||"The Happy Time"
b/w "I Don't Remember You"
|–||33||The Happy Time (Soundtrack)|
|"What A Wonderful World"
b/w "I Don't Want To Hurt You Anymore" (Non-album track)
|"Thirty Days Hath September"
b/w "A Chance To Live In Camelot" (Non-album track)
|–||17||Both Sides Now|
|"Hurry Home For Christmas"
b/w "A Wonderful World Of Christmas"
|–||–||Robert Goulet's Wonderful World Of Christmas|
|1969||"Wait For Me"
b/w "I'll Catch The Sun"
b/w "Bon Soir Dame" (from Both Sides Now)
|–||33||I Wish You Love|
b/w "One Life To Live"
b/w "I Can't Live Without You"
|1970||"My Woman, My Woman, My Wife"
b/w "Come Saturday"
|–||–||Robert Goulet Sings Today's Greatest Hits|
b/w "One At A Time"
|1973||"God Is At Work Within You"
b/w "One Solitary Life"
|1974||"Pages Of Life"
b/w "Summer Green, Autumn Gold"
|"The Little Prince"
b/w "I Won't Send Roses"
|–||–||After All Is Said and Done|
|1975||"Someone To Give My Love To"
b/w "Something To Believe In"
|1976||"After All Is Said and Done"
b/w "The Little Prince"
Columbia Records (except as noted):
|1964||Honeymoon Hotel||Ross Kingsley|
|1964||I'd Rather Be Rich||Paul Benton|
|1966||The Daydreamer||The Singer||Voice|
|1966||I Deal in Danger||David March|
|1988||Scrooged||Himself||He portrays himself in a commercial for "Robert Goulet's Cajun Christmas" on the fictional IBC television network.|
|1991||The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear||Quentin Hapsburg|
|1996||Mr. Wrong||Dick Braxton|
|1999||Toy Story 2||Wheezy the Penguin||Singing Voice, Uncredited|
|2000||The Last Producer||Henry Moore|
|2000||G-Men from Hell||The Devil|
|2001||Recess: School's Out||Mikey Blumberg||Singing voice|
|2003||Recess: Taking the Fifth Grade||Mikey Blumberg||Voice|
|1954||Howdy Doody||Trapper Pierre|
|1954–1955||Scope||Mal Tompkins||2 episodes|
|1955–1960||Encounter||Jim Mercer / Laz / Frank Taylor||5 episodes|
|1957||On Camera||Michael||Episode: "Innocent Deception"|
|1959||The Unforeseen||Episode: "Heaven Can Wait"|
|1959–1960||Wayne and Shuster||4 episodes|
|1960||Startime||The Traveller / Prince Zorn||2 episodes|
|1960||First Person||Episode: "At the Railing"|
|1961||The Enchanted Nutcracker||Johnny||TV Movie|
|1963||The Jack Benny Program||Himself||Episode: "The Robert Goblet Show"|
|1964||Kraft Suspense Theatre||Private LeRoy Brubaker / James O. Vitelli||Episode: "Operation Greif"|
|1965||The Patty Duke Show||Gregory Noble||Episode: "Don't Monkey with Mendel"|
|1965–1966||The Red Skelton Show||Nathan Nothing / Harry Handout||2 episodes|
|1966||Blue Light||David March||17 episodes|
|1966||Brigadoon||Tommy Albright||TV Movie|
|1967||The Jackie Gleason Show||Ace Fargo||Episode: "The Honeymooners: Life Upon the Wicked Stage"|
|1967||The Big Valley||Brother Love||Episode: "Brother Love"|
|1967||Carousel||Billy Bigelow||TV Movie|
|1967||The Lucy Show||Chuck Willis||Episode: "Lucy and Robert Goulet"|
|1968||Kiss Me Kate||Fred Graham / 'Petruchio'|
|1968||That's Life||Episode: "The Honeymoon"|
|1968||The Pepsodent Show||Pilot||Episode dated December 19, 1968|
|1969||The Name of the Game||Dr. Claude Evenhauer||Episode: "Keep the Doctor Away"|
|1969||Muhammad Ali, The Greatest||Documentary|
|1972||Mission: Impossible||Joe Epic||Episode: "Leona"|
|1972||The Couple Takes a Wife||Randy Perkins||TV Movie|
|1973||Cannon||Capt. Mel Danvers||Episode: "A Well Remembered Terror"|
|1975||Police Woman||Eddie Diamond||Episode: "Pawns of Power"|
|1977||Police Story||Glenn Talbot||Episode: "Prime Rib"|
|1978||The Love Boat||Charlie Godwin||Episode: "A Time for Everything/The Song Is Ended/Accidental Cruise/Anoushka"|
|1978||Flying High||Reggie||Episode: "Brides and Grooms"|
|1980||The Dream Merchants||Craig Warren||2 episodes|
|1980–1983||Fantasy Island||Eugène Henri Paul Gauguin / Frank Miller / Avery Williams||4 episodes|
|1982||Police Squad!||Executed Man||Episode: "The Butler Did It (A Bird in the Hand)"|
|1983||Matt Houston||Johnny Foster||Episode: "The Showgirl Murders"|
|1985||Murder, She Wrote||Willard Kaufmann||Episode: "Paint Me a Murder"|
|1985||Finder of Lost Loves||Gabe McGuire||Episode: "Haunted Memories"|
|1986–1990||Mr. Belvedere||Himself||4 episodes|
|1991||Acting Sheriff||Sheriff Brent McCord||TV Movie|
|1992||The New WKRP in Cincinnati||Prince Reynaldo||Episode: "Jennifer and the Prince"|
|1992||In the Heat of the Night||Eddy Larren||Episode: "When the Music Stopped"|
|1993||The Simpsons||Himself||Voice only|
|1993||Based on an Untrue Story||Remo||TV Movie|
|1994||Boy Meets World||Himself|
|1995||Get Smart||Agent 0 / Himself||Episode: "Casino Evil"|
|1995||Burke's Law||Earl Rankin||Episode: "Who Killed the Centerfold?"|
|1996||The Line King: The Al Hirschfeld Story||Documentary|
|1998–2000||Recess||Mikey Blumberg||4 episodes|
|1999||Two Guys and a Girl||Himself|
|2001||Recess Christmas: Miracle on Third Street||Mikey Blumberg||Video
|2003||Broadway: The Golden Age, by the Legends Who Were There||Documentary|
|2006||The King of Queens||Himself / Performer||Episode: "Sold-Y Locks"|
|2008||My Gym Partner's a Monkey||Asst. Coach Ferret||Voice, Episode: "Animal School Musical", (final television appearance)|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Robert Goulet.|
|Awards and achievements|
|Grammy Award for Best New Artist
The Swingle Singers
for Do Re Mi
|Theatre World Award
for Call Me By My Rightful Name