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Robert Goulet was in on the joke

Roger Moore
The Orlando Sentinel (MCT)

One of the things we most appreciate in a celebrity, or any public figure, is a sense of humor about himself.

Robert Goulet, who died Tuesday at 73, had that. And a million-dollar voice, darkly rugged good looks and stage presence to burn.

A onetime Vegas Entertainer of the Year, Tony, Emmy and Grammy winner, Mr. Sauve, mocked by comics for decades (Will Ferrell was merely the most recent Goulet-goof), Goulet got that the whole idea of a Robert Goulet was funny.

For a star who came to fame in "Camelot," saw his career amble from theater to TV and movies to Vegas, and then back to the stage again, back in "Camelot" - only this time touring the country in a less-than-top-dollar road show as the cuckolded King Arthur (Lancelot was his big Broadway break in the early `60s) - he was a guy who kind of snickered at fame, right from the start.

I was hoping Youtube had snippets of him vamping with Judy Garland on her early `60s TV show. He'd riff with Phyllis Diller, joke around with Streisand, goof on the big head, the big voice, the too-chiseled looks.

He'd turn up on "The Simpsons," in the movie "Scrooged," singing in "Recess: School's Out" cartoons.

I caught up with him on perhaps his last "Camelot" tour, and found him as gregarious and self-effacing as ever. He, of course, had a "Roger Moore story." The one-time James Bond and Goulet were pals, and he recalled one time, in the `90s, on the Riviera I believe it was, sitting on a bar patio chatting, when two lovely young things came up to them.

"They smiled and I looked at Roger and he looked and me, and we both started to get up. He tries to uncross his legs. He tries again. He kind of looks at them and smiles some more, then he leans over to me and whispers, `Nothing WORKS.'"

Larger than life personas like Goulet survived only by recognizing how funny the image was once the `70s were over. He got it. He was funny. I'll bet he laughed at those Will Ferrell parodies as much as the rest of us. And he lived long enough for George Clooney to make Vegas cool again.

Cool guy. Vegas cool.

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