The 85-year-old actor, whose list of credits includes The Long Goodbye, M*A*S*H, Friends, and Ocean's 11, had to tell the King of Rock and Roll to shut up when they first met. In an interview with Fox News, Gould recounted his meeting with Presley, which came about in the 1970s after Gould — who was at the height of his fame — saw Presley perform at the International Hotel in Las Vegas.
"I had always wanted to meet Elvis," said Gould. "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."
LISA O'CONNOR/AFP via Getty; Hulton Archive/Getty Elliott Gould and Elvis Presley
When Gould was taken backstage, Presley was surrounded by his usual confidantes: his father and Colonel Tom Parker. "Elvis opened the door," remembered Gould. "He had a gold-gilded .45 pistol in his belt. His father, Vernon, and his manager, Colonel Tom Parker, were in the room."
But all Presley wanted to ask about was Gould's split from wife Barbra Streisand. Gould and Streisand married in 1963, after meeting on Broadway, and split in 1971. "He said to me, 'Why did you and Barbra break up?' You're two of my favorite people.'"
Shocked that Presley was asking someone he'd just met about his divorce, Gould replied, "Shut up, Elvis."
Of course, it's possible Presley's line of questioning wasn't merely because of some personal investment in their relationship — Presley seriously considered working with Streisand on her 1976 remake of A Star Is Born. The rock star was Streisand's first choice for the role, and manager Colonel Tom Parker's demands for top billing and an exorbitant salary killed the deal.
But nevertheless, Gould said he was eager to get Presley to recognize the degree of control Parker and Presley's father were exerting over the performer's life. "Your daddy and the Colonel aren't going to let us be alone for too long," he remembered telling Presley. "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 didn't take Gould's advice, and he died not long after in 1977 at the age of 42.
Gould and Streisand share a son, Jason, who was born in 1966. Because of this, the two remain close despite the demise of their marriage.
"She's family," he noted. "She's the mother of my son. My children are no errors. I'm devoted to my children and their mother(s)."