Singer-Actor Robert Goulet Dies
Goulet, who had recently been diagnosed with interstitial pulmonary fibrosis, was awaiting a lung transplant when he died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in
The singer, who had fallen ill while flying home to Las Vegas after performing at a Sept. 20 concert in Syracuse, N.Y., was admitted to a Las Vegas hospital on Sept. 30. He was transferred to Cedars-Sinai as a transplant patient Oct. 14.
"Robert Goulet was a monumental presence on the stage and had one of the great voices of all time, which often overshadowed his many other talents," pianist Roger Williams said in a statement Tuesday. "He really could do it all -- act, dance and was as funny as hell, especially when he was making fun of himself. Robert always took his craft seriously, but never took himself seriously. Oh, how we will miss this great guy."
The American-born Goulet, who moved to Canada as a young teenager, was a popular singer on Canadian television when he auditioned for the role of the brave young knight in Lerner and Loewe's "Camelot," opposite
In a review of the long-running hit musical, a Variety critic wrote that the 27-year-old Goulet "has the looks and the speaking and singing voice of the ideal Lancelot."
Indeed, with his dark hair, startlingly blue eyes and magnificent baritone, Goulet was the personification of a Kennedy-era leading man.
Added to the matinee-idol looks was that distinctive singing voice, which Goulet's father considered a gift from God.
Upon hearing Goulet sing "If Ever I Would Leave You" during the first day of rehearsals for "Camelot," Burton called it "the voice of an angel."
"I was stunned by his performance," recalled Miles Kreuger, president of the Los Angeles-based Institute of the American Musical, who saw "Camelot" at a preview the night before it opened.
"At the time, before reviews were published, Robert Goulet was entirely unknown in
"In seconds, he went from unknown to a star. Two days later, when the reviews appeared, he was the talk of the town."
Goulet, who won a Grammy Award for Best New Artist in 1962, went on to win a
During his 1960s and early '70s heyday, Goulet turned out a string of hit record albums, appeared frequently on
Goulet segued into movies in 1962 when he and Garland provided the lead feline vocal characterizations for the animated film "Gay Purr-ee."
He went on to star in several films, including the 1964 comedies "Honeymoon Hotel" (with Nancy Kwan) and "I'd Rather Be Rich" (with
Goulet also sang at the
Goulet returned to the Broadway stage a number of times over the years, including playing King Arthur in a brief 1993 revival of "Camelot," and taking over the lead in a revival of the musical
He also performed frequently in regional theaters and touring companies in "Man of La Mancha," "South Pacific," "On a Clear Day You Can See Forever" and other shows.
The man who had hosted "The Bob Goulet Special Starring Robert Goulet" on television in 1970 also continued to draw audiences to his concert performances across the country. And he appeared in films such as "Atlantic City," "Scrooged," "Beetlejuice," "The Naked Gun 2 /12: The Smell of Fear" and "Mr. Wrong."
But the aging entertainment idol, who at one point began sporting a mustache, became something of a camp icon whose old-school show-biz image made him ripe for satire on TV shows such as
Goulet didn't object and, in fact, periodically spoofed his Vegas persona, including appearing as himself in a series of wacky commercials in the '90s to promote
"If you can't laugh at yourself, you're a fool," Goulet told the Orange County Register in 1996. "I don't like those who pat themselves on the back. My job is to entertain, not to go out there and be myself."
Added Goulet: "I wish I knew the secret of my endurance. Perseverance, maybe. I want to be better than I sound. You can be tired or in pain, but you must perform for those people. You give it your best shot."