Elvis Presley: When Nixon met Elvis

Elvis Presley: When Nixon met Elvis
Elvis Presley shakes hands with President Richard Nixon

On the morning of December 21, 1970, Elvis Presley personally delivers a hand-written letter on American Airline stationery to a security guard at the northwest gate of the White House.

In the letter, Presley states that he wants to meet with President Nixon and give him a gift. He also indicates his desire to gain the credentials of a federal agent in the war on drugs.

After a brief discussion with Presley and his bodyguards, Nixon Aide Egil Krogh is convinced of Presley’s sincerity and of his potential value in the fight against drug use by young people. A 12.30pm meeting is approved for the next day.

Presley arrives at the northwest gate of the White House at 11.45am for his meeting with President Nixon. Krogh meets Presley and his bodyguards and leads them to the Oval Office reception area. At 12.30pm Krogh and Presley join the president in his office.

When he first walks in, Presley seems a little awe-struck. But he quickly warms to the situation and begins showing the President his law enforcement paraphernalia including badges from police departments in California, Colorado and Tennessee.

White House photographer Ollie Atkins enters and fires off 28 shots. They are identified as Roll 5364, frames 02 through 23, and Roll 5369, frames 12a through 17a. Roll 5364 photos depict Nixon, Elvis, and Nixon staffer Egil Krogh.

The meeting is kept secret until January 27, 1972, when the Washington Post columnist Jack Anderson  breaks the story.

Of all the requests made each year to the National Archives for reproductions of photographs and documents, one item is requested more than any other. It’s neither the Bill of Rights or the Constitution of the United States, but the iconic photograph of Elvis Presley and Richard M. Nixon shaking hands.

The President and the King.

Free short story every week. No spam, ever.