'M*A*S*H' actor Elliott Gould recalls Elvis Presley asking about Barbra Streisand split: 'Shut up, Elvis'

Elliott Gould, who will be connecting with fans on the TCM Classic Cruise, which sets sail from Nov. 6-11, recalls that he was taken aback when Elvis Presley asked about the breakdown of the actor's marriage to Barbra Streisand during a chance meeting in the '70s.

Oct 24, 2023 - 06:04
'M*A*S*H' actor Elliott Gould recalls Elvis Presley asking about Barbra Streisand split: 'Shut up, Elvis'

Elvis Presley had a suspicious mind when he met Elliott Gould.

It was the ‘70s, and the "M*A*S*H" star was in Las Vegas when he asked to meet the "King of Rock and Roll" backstage after a performance at the International Hotel. For the actor, it was a dream to come face-to-face with music royalty.

"I had always wanted to meet Elvis," the 85-year-old told Fox News Digital. "I was deeply involved in musical comedy. I was a chorus boy on Broadway — I was brought up and trained that way. So I asked if we could arrange for me to come and meet Elvis… and I got it."


Gould will be connecting with fans on the TCM Classic Cruise, which will set sail from Nov. 6-11. He will be introducing two of his acclaimed films, 1973’s "The Long Goodbye" and 1974’s "California Split."

"I brought Joey [Walsh], the guy who wrote ‘California Split’ with me, to see Elvis," Gould recalled. "Joey and I went into the dressing room and Elvis opened the door. He had a gold-gilded .45 pistol in his belt. His father, Vernon, and his manager, Colonel Tom Parker, were in the room."

But Presley didn’t want to talk music.

"He said to me, ‘Why did you and Barbra break up?’ You’re two of my favorite people.’"

Gould, taken aback that Presley was asking about the breakdown of his marriage to Barbra Streisand, had a quick answer.

"I said, ‘Shut up, Elvis.’"

Gould also recalled how Vernon and Parker, the two watchful guardians of Presley, left the three men to briefly converse on their own. Gould said he encouraged Presley to be "a free spirit."

He said, ‘Hey, man, you’re crazy,’" Gould explained. "I said, ‘I ain’t crazy, Elvis. I’m scared just like you. Your daddy and the Colonel aren’t going to let us be alone for too long. You’re a cash cow to these people. Why don’t you come out and just be free, just be a free spirit? Leave Elvis here and come out and be free.'"

Presley died in 1977 at age 42 from a heart attack.

It was no surprise that the "Jailhouse Rock" icon wanted to quiz Gould on his split with Streisand, 81. During the ‘60s, the pair were recognized as Hollywood’s "It" couple before calling it quits in 1971.

Gould and Streisand met on Broadway, People magazine reported. According to the outlet, the singer was 19 and auditioning for a part in a play that Gould was leading. They married in 1963 and welcomed their son Jason in 1966.

When asked why they broke up, Gould said "we had to." They simply grew apart.


"It’s all been written and everything has been said but… fame and fortune are not the answer," he told Fox News Digital. "If there wasn’t peace and harmony, I was going to have a lot of problems… But the real question is not why we grew apart, but how could we have grown apart?"

In 2020, Gould told "CBS Sunday Morning" that the pair "didn’t grow together and that the reason for that was she became more important than us."

The exes went on to remarry others. Gould said "I do" to Jennifer Bogart in 1973 and again in 1978 after a brief split in 1975, People magazine reported. They divorced for a second and final time in 1979. They share two children.

Streisand said "I do" once more in 1998 to actor James Brolin.

Today, Gould said he has "a special and unique relationship" with Streisand.

"She’s family," Gould explained. "She’s the mother of my son. My children are no errors. I’m devoted to my children and their mother(s)."

"Both of us are devoted and totally committed to our son, who’s brilliant. And as a matter of fact, Jim Brolin is in one of my pictures, [1977’s] ‘Capricorn One.’ I’m so happy for Barbra and Jim… It always goes back to family. That’s all that matters," he said.


"There’s no ego here," Gould continued. "I’m a family man. I believe in love and I believe in caring. I believe in life… But I still have a lot to learn. And we always have a lot to learn as we evolve."

Today, Gould said he’s just as passionate about making films as he was decades ago. Looking back, he noted that "California Split" was semi-autobiographical as he faced his own struggles with gambling. Growing up, his family had no money, the actor shared.

"I said to my mother, ‘I feel and believe that gambling is not in my nature,’" said Gould. "And she said, ‘But it’s in your blood.’… Our world seems to be about material things, and I’m a slow learner… [But] I don’t gamble now. I’m completely subscribed to family. It’s what I work for. It’s what I am and what I care about. I care about good work, and I’m committed to the work."

Reflecting on "California Split," Gould said that Steve McQueen was originally poised to play his role.

"But McQueen and [director Robert] Altman couldn’t work together," Gould explained. "The picture was hanging in the balance, so Altman called me. I was working in Munich, Germany, in another picture… It was an amazing opportunity for me to express a life that I was a part of, but was not me."

Throughout his career, Gould has encountered many "fascinating" characters along the way — like Alfred Hitchcock, the director known as the "Master of Suspense."


"He once sang to me on the phone," Gould chuckled. "I first met him when I was participating in a primetime network awards show, and he was there to collect his award. Management told me, ‘Can he sit in your dressing room?’ I mean, are you kidding me? So I went to my room and there was Alfred Hitchcock. I said to him, ‘Are you going to make another film?’ He said, ‘I’m toying with one now.’ Then he leaned toward me and said, ‘I’m toying with one now, but I don’t know if the audience still wants my fantasies.’ I responded, ‘Without a doubt.’"

"I mentioned ‘The Long Goodbye,’ and he said he had seen it, and he approved of it,’" the actor shared. "That’s when I really started to… communicate with Alfred Hitchcock."

Gould said that films continue to inspire him.

"The two things that saved my life besides my mother who bore me was a movie camera and philosophy," he explained. "And in life, we have to take chances… I don’t think it’s possible to learn enough as long as your brain is working and your mind is alive… So, I’m still learning."