​Almanac: When Nixon met Elvis

And now a page from our Sunday Morning" Almanac: December 21st, 1970, 44 years ago today . . . the day President Richard Nixon welcomed Elvis Presley to the Oval Office.

It all began with the letter Presley scribbled on a flight to Washington.

"Dear Mr. President. First I would like to introduce myself. I am Elvis Presley."

The rock idol went on to offer his services as a "federal agent at large" in the war against drugs.

As proof of his qualifications, he added: "I have done an in-depth study of drug abuse and Communist brainwashing techniques."

presley-letter-to-nixon-620.jpg
National Archives

In a memo, White House aide Dwight Chapin recommended the meeting to Chief of Staff H. R. Haldeman, saying Presley was (as he put it) one of the "bright young people" the president ought to meet.

"You must be kidding," Haldeman appears to have written in the margin.

But he approved the meeting anyway.

The President and Presley met in a brief session captured in a series of still photographs. The infamous secret White House taping system had yet to be installed, so there's no audio record.

However, a White House memo reports, "Presley indicated he thought that The Beatles had been a real force for anti-American spirit."

Elvis did receive some sort of narcotics agent badge. But it's unclear what he did with it in the few years he had left.

Presley died in 1977 at the age of 42.

nixon-elvis-mug-244.jpg
National Archives

The official cause of death was cardiac arrhythmia; however, speculation persists that prescription drug abuse played a role.

And though unverified reports of Elvis sightings persist, a few DO pan out . . . in the form of President-meets-Presley paraphernalia for sale at the museum store at the National Archives.


For more info: