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‘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.”

Elvis Presley holding a mic while wearing a white jumpsuit

Elliott Gould encouraged Elvis Presley to be “a free spirit.” (Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

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.

Elliott Gould leaning against Barbra Streisand as they both smile

Elliott Gould and Barbra Streisand were married from 1963 to 1971. (Earl Leaf/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

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.

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Elliott Gould and Barbra Streisand looking directly at camera

Elliott Gould and Barbra Streisand grew apart as husband and wife, but they share “a special and unique relationship” today, according to Gould. (Max B. Miller/Fotos International/Getty Images)

“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.

Jason Gould and Barbra Streisand leaning against each other and smiling as they wear matching black outfits

Elliott Gould and Barbra Streisand share a son named Jason Gould (pictured). (Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

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.

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Barbra Streisand and James Brolin wearing matching black outfits and reading glasses

Barbra Streisand and James Brolin married in 1998. (Sonia Moskowitz/Getty Images)

“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.”

James Brolin and Elliott Gould running in "Capricorn One"

James Brolin, left, and Elliott Gould run through a cemetery in a scene from the film “Capricorn One.” (Warner Brothers/Getty Images)

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.”

Elliott Gould gambling as two people watch in a scene from "California Split"

Amarillo Slim Preston discusses poker with barmaid Barbara Ruick and compulsive gambler Elliot Gould in a scene from the film “California Split.” (Columbia Pictures/Getty Images)

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.”

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Elliott Gould and Donald Sutherland in "M*A*S*H"

Elliott Gould, left, starred in the 1970 black comedy “M*A*S*H,” directed by Robert Altman. (Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)

“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.

A close-up of Elliott Gould in a suit with reading glasses

Elliott Gould is still inspired by movies and bringing stories to life. (Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

“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.”

Stephanie Nolasco covers entertainment at Foxnews.com.

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