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Robert Goulet Remembered for Baritone Voice, Long Acting Career


The baritone voice of award-winning singer and actor Robert Goulet has been silenced. The 73-year-old performer died Tuesday in Los Angeles of lung disease. VOA's Ed Kowalski has this retrospective on Robert Goulet's life and career.

Born in Lawrence, Massachusetts, Robert Goulet was the only son of French-Canadian parents. As a boy, Goulet sang in the choir of his Catholic church but never thought much about music as a career. From his deathbed, Goulet's ailing father told him, "God gave you a voice. You must sing." His father died later that night and young Robert told himself, "I have to honor his wish."

A short time thereafter, his mother relocated the family to Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Robert later earned a singing scholarship to Toronto's Royal Conservatory of Music, studying opera. Goulet made his concert debut in 1951, performing in Handel's "Messiah."

In 1960, Goulet achieved stardom for his role in the Lerner and Loewe musical "Camelot", where he starred alongside Richard Burton as King Arthur and Julie Andrews as Queen Guenevere. Goulet played a French knight, Sir Lancelot, who falls in love with Guenevere. His role in "The Happy Time" earned Goulet the 1968 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical. In 1993, Goulet appeared in a Broadway revival of "Camelot," that time in the role of King Arthur.

Elsewhere, Goulet made stage appearances in "South Pacific", "The Pajama Game", Finian's Rainbow", and "Carousel." His film roles included performances in "Atlantic City', "Naked Gun 2-1/2", and "Underground."

Goulet became a favorite of U.S. television audiences in the 1960s with numerous appearances on American variety programs. He starred in a 1966 television adaptation of "Brigadoon" that won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Musical Program.

At the fifth Annual Grammy awards, Goulet was named Best New Artist of 1962 for his two albums, "Always You" and "Two Of Us," along with the hit song, "If Ever I Would Leave You", from the "Camelot" cast album. Seventeen of the albums he recorded between 1962 and 1970 reached the music charts. Goulet went on to record more than 60 albums during his career.

His stardom, spanning five decades, kept him working continuously in traveling theatrical tours and Las Vegas nightclubs, where he was named Entertainer of the Year in 1982.

Goulet was a prostrate cancer survivor, and encouraged men to be tested for the disease. In September, he was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, a rapidly progressive and potentially fatal lung disease. Goulet was awaiting a lung transplant when he died.

He is survived by Vera, his wife of 25 years, along with two sons and a daughter from two previous marriages.

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