Were Elvis and Richard Nixon Friends? Did They Exchange Gifts in Real Life?

Agent Elvis (L to R) Don Cheadle as The Commander, Matthew McConaughey as Elvis and Kaitlin Olson as Cece in Agent Elvis. Cr. COURTESY OF NETFLIX © 2023

Netflix’s ‘Agent Elvis’ uses real-life events to create a fictional tale where Elvis Presley works for a secret agency. To the world, he is the beloved King of Rock and Roll. Out of the public eye, he is an agent of TCB. He goes on missions around the world to catch the bad guys and save his country from being turned into mindless zombies by a mind control sonic machine. In one of his missions, Elvis goes to the White House, where he has a long chat with President Richard Nixon. Many things in the show are twisted versions of what happened in real life. If you want to know more about Elvis’ meeting with Nixon and how much of what’s depicted in the Netflix series is true, here’s what you need to know.

Elvis Presley and Richard Nixon Meeting, Explained

Elvis Presley was known for his love for guns and badges. Over the years, he’d received several honorary badges, and the desire for another one led him to the Oval Office in December 1970. It has also been stated that Elvis had a strong desire to be a federal agent and do some good for the country. So, he decided to have an impromptu meeting with the President. On his private jet, Elvis wrote a letter to Nixon saying he wanted to be “of any service that [he could] help the country out.”

The letter said: “I have done an in-depth study of drug abuse and Communist brainwashing techniques, and I am right in the middle of the whole thing where I can and will do the most good. I would love to meet you just to say hello if you’re not too busy.” He dropped the letter at the White House, and the meeting happened on December 21, 1970.

Image Credit: Library of Congress

The meeting was so sudden and kept under wraps that no one found out about it until January 1972. There is no transcript of the meeting, and the only available information comes from a memo written by Egil “Bud” Krogh. According to it, Elvis and Nixon talked about the drug problem in the country and how Presley was well-placed, considering his popularity and influence with the young crowd, to make some difference on that front. The King said he made that effort through his music and songs.

Reportedly, they also talked about the Beatles and how they’d been “a real force for the anti-American spirit.” Allegedly, Presley showed dissent over the Beatles coming to America, making their money, and then going back to England “to promote the anti-American theme.” Nixon agreed to this, and they talked a little more about how drug usage and the anti-American feeling merged with other problems like violence and protests. Presley ensured that he was “on your [Nixon’s] side” and said he wanted to help him in any way he could. The President reportedly asked Elvis to “maintain his credibility” as an icon who could influence the thinking of his fans.

Elvis and Nixon: A Unique Exchange of Gifts

Yes, Elvis Presley and Richard Nixon gave gifts to each other. Elvis brought a wood-handled Colt .45 revolver and silver bullets in a display box that is said to have adorned his LA mansion’s walls at a time. The box was confiscated when Elvis entered the White House before he met with the President. He asked if he could have a federal badge, and Nixon gave him the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs badge. The title of an honorary special agent was also bestowed upon him, though it is said that Elvis took it very seriously.

Explaining his desire for the badge, Priscilla Presley revealed: “The narc badge represented some kind of ultimate power to him. With the federal narcotics badge, he [believed he] could legally enter any country both wearing guns and carrying any drugs he wished.” She wrote more about it in her memoir, ‘Elvis and Me.’ As iconic as it was, Elvis and Nixon’s meeting wasn’t revealed to the audience immediately. Eventually, when it did come out, the picture that Elvis and Nixon had taken together became “the most-requested photograph in the entire U.S. National Archives.”

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