LOS ANGELES – Robert Goulet, the handsome, big-voiced baritone whose Broadway debut in “Camelot” sparked an award-winning stage and recording career, has died. He was 73.
The singer died Tuesday morning in a Los Angeles hospital while awaiting a lung transplant, said Goulet spokesman Norm Johnson.
He had been awaiting the transplant at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center after being found last month to have a rare form of pulmonary fibrosis.
Goulet had remained in good spirits even as he waited for the transplant, said Vera Goulet, his wife of 25 years.
“Just watch my vocal cords,” she said he told doctors before they inserted a breathing tube.
The Massachusetts-born Goulet, who spent much of his youth in Canada, gained stardom in 1960 with “Camelot,” the Lerner and Loewe musical that starred Richard Burton as King Arthur and Julie Andrews as Queen Guenevere.
Goulet played Sir Lancelot, the arrogant French knight who falls in love with Guenevere.
He became a hit with American TV viewers with appearances on “The Ed Sullivan Show” and other programs. Sullivan labeled him the “American baritone from Canada,” where he had already been a popular star in the 1950s, hosting his own TV show called “General Electric’s Showtime.”
While he returned to Broadway only infrequently after “Camelot,” he did win a Tony award in 1968 for best actor in a musical for his role in “The Happy Time.” His other Broadway appearances were in “Moon Over Buffalo” in 1995 and “La Cage aux Folles” in 2005, plus a “Camelot” revival in 1993 in which he played King Arthur.
His stage credits elsewhere include productions of “Carousel,” “Finian’s Rainbow,” “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” “The Pajama Game,” “Meet Me in St. Louis,” and “South Pacific.”
Goulet also got some film work, performing in movies ranging from the animated “Gay Purr-ee” (1962) to “Underground” (1970) to “The Naked Gun 2 1/2 ” (1991). He played a lounge singer in Louis Malle’s acclaimed 1980 film “Atlantic City.”
Goulet had no problems poking fun at his own fame, appearing recently in an Emerald nuts commercial in which he “messes” with the stuff of dozing office workers, and lending his name to Goulet’s SnoozeBars.