Sandra Harmon, Emmy-Winning Writer and Co-Author of 'Elvis & Me,' Dies at 80

Courtesy of Kampaign PR
Sandra Harmon

A 1988 miniseries adaptation of her book was a ratings smash for ABC. She also worked on shows hosted by Dick Cavett and Bill Cosby.

Sandra Harmon, the co-author with Priscilla Presley of the 1980s best-seller Elvis and Me and an Emmy-winning writer who worked on shows hosted by Dick Cavett and Bill Cosby, has died. She was 80.

Harmon died Dec. 13 at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx after a long battle with cancer, publicist Hannah Kampf announced.

Elvis and Me, the story of Elvis Presley and wife Priscilla Presley — whom the singer and movie star met when she was 14 — has sold more than 1 million copies in hard cover and 3 million in paperback since it was first published in September 1985.

It spent more than 50 weeks on The New York Times' best-seller list, and according to The Wall Street Journal, only nine other books sold more than it did in the 1980s.

ABC turned Elvis and Me into a four-hour miniseries that starred Dale Midkiff and Susan Walters and attracted huge ratings when it aired in February 1988.

Harmon's 1975 memoir, A Girl Like Me, also occupied the top spot on the Times list for many weeks and drew praise from none other than Norman Mailer.

Born in Brooklyn on June 20, 1938, Harmon worked on ABC's The Dick Cavett Show from 1969-71 and won an Emmy, then was the head writer on Cos, a short-lived ABC comedy variety series hosted by Cosby in 1976.

She also wrote and produced the 1979 NBC telefilm Fast Friends, which was based on her experiences on Cavett's talk show. It starred Dick Shawn as a talk show host who goes berserk onstage and is replaced by a young, unknown comedian (played by David Letterman).

Harmon also produced the 1985 CBS telefilm Promises to Keep, which starred Claire Bloom and three generations of the Mitchum family: Robert Mitchum; his son Chris; and his grandson Bentley. (The family had been estranged for years before the project.)