Robert Goulet | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Robert Goulet

Robert (Gerard) Goulet. Baritone, actor, born Lawrence, Mass, 26 Nov 1933 of French-Canadian parents, died Los Angeles 30 Oct 2007.

Robert Goulet

Robert (Gerard) Goulet. Baritone, actor, born Lawrence, Mass, 26 Nov 1933 of French-Canadian parents, died Los Angeles 30 Oct 2007.

Early Life and Career

Goulet began singing when he was five and received early encouragement from his father, who died before his son turned thirteen. In his early teens Robert Goulet moved with his mother to Edmonton, where he studied voice with Herbert G. Turner and Jean Létourneau and in 1950 became a radio announcer on CKUA. After his first professional appearance, at age 16 with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra in a summer pops concert, Goulet continued his voice training 1952-4 on a Royal Conservatory of Music scholarship with George Lambert and Ernesto Vinci. A semifinalist on CBC-TV's 'Pick the Stars' in 1952, Goulet also competed in CBC radio's "Opportunity Knocks" and "Singing Stars of Tomorrow."

Performances and Acclaim

While taking small roles in 1954 with the Canadian Opera Company and appearing in the chorus of the Melody Fair series of Broadway musicals produced in Toronto, he made his TV debut in a walk-on role in the CBC production of The Consul. Appearances followed in CBC-TV's Sunshine Town (1954), The Lady and the Logger, and Take to the Woods (1955). In 1956 he appeared in Spring Thaw and sang at Theatre Under the Stars in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Finian's Rainbow, and South Pacific. He co-starred 1957-9 on CBC TV's "Showtime," sang the role of Captain MacHeath in the Stratford Festival's 1958 production of The Beggar's Opera, and appeared in 1958 in summer-stock musical comedy in Ohio.

Goulet's creation of Sir Lancelot in Lerner and Loewe's Camelot, opposite Julie Andrews and Richard Burton, in the premiere at Toronto's O'Keefe Centre (now the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts) 1 Oct 1960 and in the New York premiere 1 Dec 1960, brought him particular acclaim. Thereafter he enjoyed a successful US career in Broadway and summer-stock productions, TV, movies, and nightclubs, his popularity attributed to a "virile attractiveness, stunning showmanship and magnificently rich voice which combine to produce an impact on audiences that can be likened only to the matinee idols of the 1920s" (Song Hits, Summer 1967). In 1962 he received a (US) Grammy Award as best new artist of the year and in 1968 he was given a Tony Award for his performance as Jacques in the Broadway production of The Happy Time. With Judy Garland he recorded the voices for the animated film Gay Purr-ee (1962). He also appeared in such movies as I'd Rather Be Rich (1964), Honeymoon Hotel (1966), and Naked Gun 2 1/2 (1991), in the TV adventure series 'Blue Light' (1966), and in the TV productions of Carousel (1967), Kiss Me Kate (1968), and the Emmy-Award winning Brigadoon (1966). He appeared as himself in the feature film Atlantic City (1981).

Later Career

Goulet's later career found him appearing in Las Vegas, singing in nightclubs elsewhere in the US and Canada, and participating in the revivals of various musicals - eg, he ascended to the role of King Arthur in a 1975 production of Camelot in Los Angeles, and sang de Becque in a 1986 touring production of South Pacific seen at the O'Keefe Centre, the National Arts Centre, and Place des Arts.

Goulet's inimitable baritone and unselfconscious audience appeal ensured his continuing popularity in stage musicals. He reprised the role of King Arthur 1992-4 and again in 1998, and as Don Quixote in Man of La Mancha, toured 50 cities 1996-7. As a replacement, he played the lead in Broadway's Moon Over Buffalo in 1996 and La Cage Aux Folles in 2005. His solo performances, although less frequent by 2004, included Las Vegas shows and a self-titled one-man show. In concert, his signature tune was "If Ever I Would Leave You."

Goulet's later Canadian appearances included a "homecoming" concert with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra in 1985, and a concert series with the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa in 2000. Film work after 1991 included acting and voice parts in Mr. Wrong, Toy Story 2, Recess, The Last Producer, and other films, as well as numerous television appearances.

Recordings and Commercials

Goulet has recorded for Columbia, Harmony, RCA, MGM and, in the mid-1980s, his own Rove label. (See linked website for full discography). The 1960 recording of Camelot was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

He has made television commercials for Emerald Nuts, Mercedes Benz, ESPN (Basketball), Miller Light (Beer) and Johnny Walker (Scotch).

Awards and Charities

Among his awards are a Voice Education and Research Awareness (VERA) award (2007); First Star On "Shubert Walk of Fame" (New Haven) (2005); Distinguished Lifetime Service Award Of Touring Broadway (2000); Nevada Symphony Guild - Contribution To The Arts (1998); Royal Conservatory Of Music Honorary Fellowship (1993); Entertainer Of The Year - Las Vegas (1982); and 5 Emmy Awards.

Robert Goulet was given stars on both Canada's Walk of Fame (2006) and the Hollywood Walk of Fame (1975), and is listed in the Canadian Who's Who.

The singer became a member of the U.S. Music Educators National Conference Advisory Council in 1996, and was a spokesperson for the American Cancer Society. The University of Nevada at Las Vegas has continued to offer The Robert Goulet Music and Theater Scholarship.