Robert Goulet died Tuesday in a Los Angeles hospital where he was awaiting a lung transplant. Most people, I imagine, will remember him for originating the role of Lancelot in Camelot, or Hurry Home For Christmas or one of his other music gigs. But whenever I think of Goulet, it's in connection with one of my favorite spy shows, Blue Light, which lasted just half a season on ABC back in 1966. In a role that was perhaps inspired by Kurt Vonnegut's Mother Night, Goulet played David March, an American newspaper reporter who had renounced his citizenship and gone to work as a Nazi propagandist -- but secretly he was a double agent, reporting back to an American espionage group known only by its codename, Blue Light.
In an age when Hollywood preferred its spies slick and fanciful a la James Bond, Blue Light was grim and gritty, a dark exploration of the dynamics of betrayal. David March had to fear not only Nazi counterintelligence -- which knew of the Blue Light organization and was ruthlessly hunting down its agents -- but his own countrymen, who all believed him a traitor. The show wasn't about gadgets or girls, but the real mean streets of intelligence. Of course, the biggest lesson in betrayal to me was when ABC canceled Blue Light, the first of a million heartbreaks to come from swinish network programmers.
I believe a few Blue Light episodes have been edited into a movie with the wretched title I Deal In Danger, which is available on DVD. It deserved better. So long, Bob.
UPDATE: Here's an interview Goulet did with the GI newspaper Stars & Stripes while he was shooting Blue Light in Germany in 1966.