You know you've really "arrived" as a celebrity when your photograph is on a trading card.
Baseball stars have been doing it for years.But just recently . . . well, in the last year or so . . . the Hollywood Walk of Fame has licensed a collection of "Starline" trading cards featuring - you guessed it - famous people who have their names engraved on the polished bronze stars along Hollywood Avenue.
I would never have discovered this wonderful new collectible had I not been looking through some of the odds and ends (most of them very odd, believe me) that two of my colleagues, Chris Hicks and Scott Pierce, have been dutifully placing in a cabinet we have nicknamed The Shrine to Public Relations. Somewhat less-than-glamorous gifts from film and television industry publicists - everything from American Film Classics mugs to bumper stickers and 3-D glasses - eventually find their way into this illustrious treasure trove.
And - I am not making this up - it was here, on a lower shelf, that I found a deck of Hollywood Walk of Fame trading cards.
Card No. 108, as luck would have it, was for Robert Goulet: singer.
Goulet, you might have heard, is coming to Salt Lake City in a couple of weeks with his national touring production of "Camelot." The Theater League of Utah presentation, Jan. 25-30 at the Capitol Theatre, is close to selling out.
The Goulet trading card features color photographs on the front and back. I suspect they may have been clipped from his high school yearbook. He looks incredibly young and debonair - much like someone you would expect to be playing Lancelot, which is the role that propelled him to international stardom in 1960, when the Lerner & Loewe musical first opened on Broadway.
This same wallet-size trading card also contains snippets of microdot-size trivia, such as "Goulet has had 17 LPs on the charts." (In case there are teenagers reading this, an "LP" is a large vinyl disc, approximately 12 inches across, which revolves at 331/3 rpm and is played on a phonograph to recreate sound. Think of it as a Frisbee-size CD.)
Trivia tidbit: The exact location of Goulet's bronze star is at 6368 Hollywood Ave.
Another fascinating trivia tidbit: "Goulet still appears in nightclubs and on television."
Yes, he does. But he also keeps very busy performing with symphony orchestras across the country (including the Utah Symphony in 1983), and, before it concludes this summer in Minneapolis, his latest "Camelot" tour will have racked up 84 weeks on the road. In the first 52 weeks, according to Daryl H. Miller of the Los Angeles Daily News, the tour had already grossed a whopping $30 million.
In addition to the fact that Goulet has previously performed at both then-Symphony Hall and, in 1967, at the former Valley Music Hall, "Camelot" itself has two interesting local angles:
- The actress playing the role of Queen Guenevere is Patricia Kies (pronounced keez), who attended the University of Utah's once-prestigious musical theater program in the 1970s. She also appeared in such musicals as "Camelot," "Kiss Me Kate" and "Man of La Mancha" on campus.- Kies' co-star in many of those U. productions was Robert Peterson, who first rose to national prominence as Lancelot both on Broadway and on tour. Both Roberts - Goulet and Peterson - have since "graduated" from brash young Lancelot to the visionary and wise King Arthur.
Peterson was Goulet's understudy in 1961 when the show was on Broadway and toured the United States and Canada with the production in 1963-64. If Peterson can break away from his Pioneer Theatre Company "Romeo and Juliet" rehearsals (he's playing Capulet, Juliet's father), it would not be surprising for the two Roberts and Patricia to have a brief reunion while "Camelot" is in town.
It's ironic that Peterson is rehearsing for a Shakespearean drama. Twenty years ago, both Kies and Peterson performed at Pioneer Memorial Theatre in "Kiss Me Kate," Cole Porter's musical, which has Shakespeare's comedy "Taming of the Shrew" as its play-within-a-play element.
- FOR PATRICIA KIES, this national tour marks the second time she's performed the role of Guenevere opposite Goulet's Arthur.
Before the current tour was assembled, she and Goulet starred in a production that was jointly produced by theater companies in Houston and Sacramento for outdoor summer presentations in those two cities.
When the new cross-country tour was being put together, Goulet asked Kies if she would once again be Queen Guenevere.
"I love working with him," said Kies on Thursday morning from her room in a Sunnyvale, Calif., hotel. ("Camelot" had just opened a weeklong engagement at the Flint Center in Cupertino, near San Jose.)
"He's great fun and is a wonderful Arthur," she said. "It's very pleasant because this is a long run and he makes things a little different each night - little things that only the people on stage would notice."
Kies has fond memories of her four years in Salt Lake City attending the University of Utah.
It was Keith Engar, former head of the U. theater department, who lured Kies out of the chorus and into the role of the bewitching Nimue in her first production of "Camelot."
("I saw in her this tremendous talent. She is a professional all the way," the now-retired Dr. Engar was quoted as saying in a Deseret News article in April 1974, when Kies was about to portray Anna in "The King and I" - her final performance as a U. student.)
When she was studying at the U., the actress went by her family name of Pat O'Connell, but she changed to her mother's maiden name when she moved to New York because there was already a "Pat O'Connell" in the Actors Equity union.
Although Kies spent nearly 17 years in New York, her first and only performance on Broadway was when the current production of "Camelot" had a limited run last summer as a revival at the Gershwin Theatre.
But she commented during our telephone interview that New York was the place to be for signing on for other touring or regional productions.
Her roles have included co-starring with Noel Harrison in "My Fair Lady," Harve Presenell in "The Sound of Music" and John Cullum in "The King and I."
Two of her favorite non-singing roles have been Jenny in Neil Simon's "Chapter Two" and Truvy in "Steel Magnolias."
Kies is looking forward to returning to Salt Lake City (even if it is for less than a week), because she still has many friends here.
She grew up in Montana. Her parents still have a summer home at Flathead Lake (preferring to spend their winters in Scottsdale, Ariz.) and her sister lives in Helena.
Three years ago, Kies left New York and moved to Omaha, Neb. That was where she met her current husband, who used to own the Firehouse Theatre - where she performed in "Steel Magnolias."
For now, however, instead of a home with a real front and back yard in Omaha, Kies is doing what touring performers do - living out of a suitcase and traveling from city to city.
But, she says, the audiences have been great - and mostly "sold out."
Kies said she's been surprised to find a lot of people attending "Camelot" who were not familiar with the show or much of its music.
"Oh, they'll hear `If Ever I Would Leave You' and say, `So this is where that comes from."
I asked if she had felt the earthquake that was reported in San Jose the night before, and Kies said she had not. But there was a temblor once during a matinee performance at the Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles.
"We didn't feel it on stage, but some people left the theater," she said.
I also noted that while actors playing Lancelot get promoted to King Arthur, the role of Guenevere appears to be ageless.
We agreed that maybe it was a little of Merlyn's magic at work.