Robert Goulet: The Long Road From Camelot

We’ve lost another from the days of Camelot.

Robert Goulet, the booming baritone from Lawrence, Massachusetts — and the original Lancelot in the legendary Broadway musical “Camelot” has died at the age of 73. “Camelot” was Goulet’s debut on the Broadway stage, in a cast that included Julie Andrews and Richard Burton. He was an instant sensation in a role that both mocked and celebrated his chiseled chin, and stunning vocal power.

Subtle? No.

Memorable? Absolutely.

The link between Camelot and the JFK White House became a metaphor for the era — triumph, tragedy, unfulfilled dreams. A lot of that applies to Goulet’s post-Camelot career. He actually won the Best New Artist “Grammy Award” over Bob Dylan in 1962 — but after that he sort of devolved into a Vegas lounge act and B-list Rat Packer. He would never regain A-list status, but the good will and fond memories of “Camelot” would always carry him through. Only a performance of the highest caliber can hold that kind of lasting acclaim.

In later years, Saturday Night Live’s Will Farrell would hilariously send up Goulet, but always with more affection than bite. Goulet enjoyed the joke as much as anyone, never taking himself too seriously. That’s what I liked most about Goulet, he was a shooting star, but he never whined and moaned about his change in fortunes. Like the city he was born in, he just kept on plugging.

Goodbye Goulet, your shining moment as Lancelot will forever be the stuff of legend.


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