Have you ever played that party game where everyone tells the story of their biggest brush with celebrity?
My celebrity sighting is pretty lame. I saw Ed McMahon, Johnny Carson’s fawning sidekick, at an ocean-front Los Angeles restaurant in the 1990s. I didn’t actually meet him. I just spotted him walking in.
But here’s my bigger claim to fame: I’m related to the writer Henry Morton Robinson. His novel, The Cardinal, was made into a movie released in 1963, directed by Otto Preminger. Robinson was married to my great-aunt. I never met him, but I visited her a few times in Woodstock NY after he died and I saw the outbuilding where he wrote.
My mom always claimed she saw Robert Goulet during a Florida vacation in the 1960s. She was never one to let the truth ruin her stories, so I recently checked with my dad about it. He confirmed that yes indeed, while on a drive in the Miami Beach area with my aunt and uncle, they all saw Goulet walking out of the luxurious Fontainebleu Hotel. My dad remembers the women in the car screaming with excitement.
Goulet had played Sir Lancelot in the Lerner and Loewe Broadway musical Camelot, which opened in 1960 and also starred Richard Burton and Julie Andrews. (A whole different cast was used in the film version made in 1967.) Goulet sang “If Ever I Would Leave You,” a romantic ballad that became his signature song.
After Camelot, appearances on The Danny Thomas Show and The Ed Sullivan Show brought Goulet into American living rooms. Women adored him—his dashing good looks, his gorgeous baritone. To catch a glimpse of him in person? Thrilling. At least for my mom and my aunt.
What’s your brush with celebrity?
Paulette Bochnig Sharkey