Later, Barry continued his work on TV appearing in such classics as 'Room 222', 'The Streets of San Francisco' and 'Ironsides' in the seventies, 'Simon & Simon', 'Hart to Hart' and 'Doogie Howser, M.D.' in the eighties and 'The Nanny', 'Alley McBeal' and 'Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman' in the nineties. In his new book - 'The Importance of Being Ernie' he recalls meeting Elvis. Here's the excerpt ...
Me and Elvis
I peeked into the limo and saw a television, an amazing sight in a car in the early 1960s. I figured the TV's picture clarity had to be top of the line, just like whoever owned this limo. He was probably a famous inventor like Thomas Edison, or maybe even an astronaut, John Glenn perhaps! I was nine years old and in love with high-tech gadgets. Just then, a voice drawled in a deep Southern accent, 'Ya like it?'
I turned around to see who could ask such a silly and obvious question. Holy crap! It was Elvis Presley, The King of Rock and Roll!! He was towering over me, dressed in a colorful, loose fitting Hawaiian shirt. His famous upper lip was raised on the left side with a half smile, half sneer, like in pictures I'd seen of him.
'They just finished the custom work and brought it over', Elvis said, stroking the glossy white paint on the car's roof. He leaned over and peered inside the rear compartment. The King's nose was inches away from mine, a loose strand of his raven black hair, slick and shiny, dangled in front of his eyes. 'What do ya think?'
Up close, his skin looked smooth as butter because it was coated with a heavy bronze make-up. He almost looked fake, like a walking-talking wax replica of himself. 'I like the TV….uh…Elvis.' I said his name tentatively, testing it out to see how he'd react. He laughed, climbed into the rear cabin and settled into the leather seat, pushing down on it with his hands, assessing the firmness. Elvis seemed impressed.
'I like TV, too', he said. 'Let's see what's on'.
He flipped one of the gold plated toggle switches on the overhead console. The television came alive, making an odd sizzling noise, and then a scrambled black and white image on the screen became perfectly clear. I knew it! The picture was better than our crummy old Philco. Not only that, Popeye The Sailor, one of my favorite cartoons, was playing! 'I'm gonna take her for a test drive ‘round the lot. Wanna come along?' Elvis asked.
Hell, yeah, I wanted to go! my brain screamed. Just then, my mother's stern voice popped into my head: Never ride with a stranger, Barry. NEVER!' Then, a different, sneakier voice whispered: Elvis is no stranger. Everybody knows Elvis! He's probably the most famous guy in the world!!
'Ya comin'?' Elvis asked, again, snapping me out of my reverie. I glanced up and down the studio's bustling corridor. Mom was nowhere in sight. The temptation was immense. A ride with Elvis was definitely a draw, but the chance to watch Popeye from the back of a rolling limo was the clincher. I hopped in.
'The Importance of Being Ernie'.