Robert Goulet

Robert Goulet

Goulet in 1988
Born Robert Gerard Goulet
(1933-11-26)November 26, 1933
Lawrence, Massachusetts, U.S.
Died October 30, 2007(2007-10-30) (aged 73)
Los Angeles, U.S.
Cause of death Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis
Education Victoria Composite High School
Alma mater The Royal Conservatory of Music
Occupation Singer, actor, entertainer
Years active 1951–2007
Spouse(s) Louise Longmore
(1956–1963; divorced) (1 child)
Carol Lawrence
(1963–1981; divorced) (2 children)
Vera Chochorovska Novak
(1982–2007; his death)
Children Nicolette Goulet
Christopher Goulet (b. 1964)
Michael Goulet (b. 1966)[1]

Robert Gerard 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 an award-winning stage, screen, and recording career. A Grammy, Tony, and an Emmy award winner, his career spanned almost six decades.

Life and career

Early life

Goulet was born in Lawrence, Massachusetts, on Greenvile St. in the Tower Hill section, the only son of Jeanette (née Gauthier) and Joseph Georges André Goulet, a laborer.[2] His parents were both of French Canadian ancestry. He was a descendant of French-Canadian pioneers Zacharie Cloutier[3] and Jacques Goulet.[4] 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.[5]

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 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 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.[6]

Rise to stardom

Robert Goulet and Julie Andrews in Camelot
Scene from the musical Camelot

Goulet's first U.S. bookings were in summer stock theatre with the Kenley Players.[7] 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).[8] 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."[7] Goulet repeated his role in South Pacific for Kenley in a 1995 production.[8]

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.[9] 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.[10] 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.[11] The anthem lasted longer than the fight, which was over early in the first round.[12] 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.

Entertainment career

Goulet in 1988.

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 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 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 telecast of the 1956 film version on ABC.

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 TV's original Mission: Impossible. Goulet was featured in a two-part episode of the TV series 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, 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). 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 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)".

Later years

In 1996, he appeared in Ellen DeGeneres' first starring vehicle, Mr. Wrong, as an insecure TV host and returned to Broadway again 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 at age 71, he took to the Broadway stage for the last time as a mid-run replacement in "La Cages 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.[13][14]

His last public performance came 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".

Other work

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. Some of his commercial work showed his comedic side, examples include 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", as well as the Emerald Nuts advertising campaign in 2006, starring in a television commercial that debuted during Super Bowl XL and maintained a consistent presence up until his death. In 2006, he appeared in an episode ("Sold'y Locks") of The King of Queens as himself.[15]

Personal life

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), who gave birth to his two grandchildren, Solange-Louise and Jordan Gerard. He had two sons, Christopher and Michael by his second wife, actress/singer Carol Lawrence. In 1982, he married artist/writer Vera Novak in Las Vegas, Nevada. She was born in Vevčani, which was then in Yugoslavia and is now in the Republic of Macedonia, and was his business partner and manager.[16] He sang God Bless America on Friday, August 8, 2003, when Vera Goulet was sworn in as a citizen of the United States in Las Vegas.

In 2006, he received a star on Canada's Walk of Fame.[17]

Robert Goulet in May 2007.


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.[18] 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.[19]

Goulet died from pulmonary fibrosis on October 30, 2007 less than a month short of his 74th birthday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, while awaiting a lung transplant.[20] As the Broadway community mourned the loss of Robert Goulet, the 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 the late singer, actor and entertainer in an unprecedented tribute by closing the Las Vegas Strip for his funeral procession.


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 multiple 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.[21]

Journalist Scott Simon, host of Weekend Edition Saturday on NPR, said in 2007:

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.[22]

In 2016, Goulet was portrayed by Broadway star Matt Bogart in episode 4 of HBO's Vinyl (TV series) as an act for American Century. In the episode, he goes to the studio to record a Christmas album with the suggestion of performing a song of his own about the day after Christmas stating that it's an "untouched market". The song, Christmas You Go So Fast which is sung by Bogart, is an original piece written specifically for the show.


Year Single Chart positions Album
US[23] US
1961 "I'm Just Taking My Time"
b/w "One Life"
Non-album tracks
1962 "Too Soon"
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"
Non-album tracks
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"
Non-album tracks
"Under The Yum Yum Tree"
b/w "If You Go"
1964 "The Name Of The Game"
b/w "Choose"
"Too Good"
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
"Summer Sounds"
b/w "The More I See Of Mimi" (from Begin To Love)
58 14 Summer Sounds
"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"
Non-album tracks
1966 "Why Be Ashamed" / 28
"Young Only Yesterday" 37 I Remember You
b/w "My Best Girl"
22 Non-album tracks
"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)
20 Non-album tracks
"One Life, One Dream"
b/w "There's A Way"
"The Sinner"
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)
26 Woman, Woman
"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"
Non-album tracks
"Didn't We"
b/w "Bon Soir Dame" (from Both Sides Now)
33 I Wish You Love
"Only Yesterday"
b/w "One Life To Live"
Non-album tracks
"One Night"
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
"Healing River"
b/w "One At A Time"
Non-album tracks
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):


Stage appearances


  2. "Robert Goulet Biography". filmreference. 2008. Retrieved June 8, 2008.
  3. "The Ancestors of Lyndon LaRouche". Retrieved December 9, 2011.
  4. "Ancestry of Robert Goulet". Retrieved July 18, 2011.
  5. Vera Goulet (2008). "Robert Goulet Biography". at the Robert Goulet official website. Archived from the original on May 26, 2008. Retrieved June 8, 2008.
  6. "Howdy Doody". TVarchive. Retrieved December 9, 2012.
  7. 1 2 Brown, Tony (October 29, 2009). "John Kenley, legendary Ohio impresario, dead at 103: Obituary". Plain Dealer. Retrieved January 11, 2016.
  8. 1 2 "Most Appearances by a Headliner". Retrieved January 11, 2016.
  9. William Ruhlmann (2002). "Review: Robert Goulet – Always". Allmusic. Retrieved June 7, 2008.
  10. "The Jack Parr Show". Judy Garland: The Live Performances. Retrieved December 9, 2011.
  11. The Associated Press (October 31, 2007). "Robert Goulet is remembered in Maine town for anthem rendition at Ali-Liston title fight". USA Today. Retrieved December 9, 2011.
  12. Taylor, Ted (May 26, 1965). "Clay stops Liston in one minute of the first round". Lewiston Daily Sun. Maine. p. 1.
  13. Barnes, Clive (2005-05-06). "HIP, HIP GOULET". New York Post. Retrieved 2015-12-27.
  14. "Did Critics Gush Over Robert Goulet in La Cage aux Folles?". Retrieved 2015-12-27.
  15. "imdb". imdb. Retrieved February 14, 2015.
  16. "Prominent People Lost to IPF/PF: Robert Goulet". Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation. Retrieved December 9, 2011.
  17. "Robert Goulet-2006 Inductee". Canada's Walk of Fame. Retrieved December 9, 2011.
  18. Martin, Douglas (October 30, 2007). "Robert Goulet, Actor, Dies at 73". The New York Times. Retrieved December 9, 2011.
  19. Ronald Bergan (November 18, 2007). "Obituary: Robert Goulet". The Guardian. Retrieved December 9, 2011.
  20. "Singer Robert Goulet Dies at 73". Fox News. Associated Press. October 30, 2007. Retrieved December 9, 2011.
  21. "Robert Goulet Memorial Mustached American of the Year voting". American Mustache Institute. Retrieved 2014-08-01.
  22. Simon, Scott (November 3, 2007). "Robert Goulet: a Broadway Gentleman". NPR. Retrieved December 27, 2015.
  23. "Robert Goulet: Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved December 9, 2011.
  24. "Robert Goulet: AC Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved February 6, 2012.

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Robert Goulet.
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
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