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Robert Goulet ( 1933 - 2007 )  Category ( Entertainers ) [suggest a correction]
 

Before achieving fame as a suave, silver-tongued leading man in musicals, Robert Goulet grew up in a blue-collar household in a forgotten corner of Canada.

That changed when his parents -- a laborer and a housewife -- recognized his talent and moved from Girouxville, Alberta to the provincial capital of Edmonton so that young Robert could receive voice training. During high school, he worked as a radio announcer, then received a scholarship to the Royal Conswervatory of Music in Toronto, studying under George Lambert and Ernesto Vinci.

As with Carrie Underwood, Susan Boyle and others from the modern era, Goulet then used television to escape from obscurity and brand himself as a rising talent. In 1952, he gained the semi-finals of "Pick the Stars" on CBS, then appeared on "Singing Stars of Tomorrow" and "Opportunity Knocks."

Goulet's "tomorrow" arrived in 1959, when he was chosen by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe to sing the part of Lancelot in "Camelot," which also starred Richard Burton and Julie Andrews.

Although this Lancelot was a virtual unknown, he received strong reviews over the early run of the show and turned "If Ever I Would Leave You" into a signature tune. This attracted the attention of starmakers like Danny Thomas and Ed Sullivan, and Goulet became a fixture in American livingrooms. In 1962, he won a Grammy as Best New Artist.

The arc of his career continued upward through the '60s. He toured in "Carousel" and "Brigadoon," appeared with his second wife, Carol Lawrence, in "Kiss Me Kate," and won a Tony for his performance in the 1968 Broadway musical "The Happy Time."

One blot on his resume occurred in 1965, when he sang the National anthem prior to the Muhammad Ali-Sonny Liston fight in Lewiston, Maine and exchanged "the dawn's early night" for the "dawn's early light" and "gave proof through the fight" for "gave proof through the night." Critics soon forgave him, however, and his single "My Love, Forgive Me" was a Top 20 hit on Billboard.

Goulet became an American citizen, and eventually sang the Star Spangled Banner again when his third wife, Vera Novak, was naturalized. He had a daughter with first wife Louise Longmore and two sons with Carol Lawrence.

In his later years, Goulet discovered his comic side, lending his familiar face and voice to a succession to everything from "Beetlejuice" to "Wrestlemania" to "The Naked Gun." He even played himself on "The Simpsons."

Goulet's last musical triumph came when he toured as Don Quixote in "Man of La Mancha" in 1997 and 1998.

In March of 2006, Goulet received a star on Canada's Walk of Fame. A year and a half later, he was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis and died Oct. 30, 2007 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles while awaiting a lung transplant.


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