Tag Archives: Elvis meets Nixon

Elvis Meets Nixon – Part 3

Elvis Meets Nixon Banner

It is still a week until the premier of the new movie Elvis & Nixon. I hope to hear from some of you who watched it as well as the 1997 version Elvis Meets Nixon on YouTube. It will be interesting to read your comments, and maybe do one more blog post on the subject.

But now I want to share all kinds of miscellaneous stuff I have on this historic meeting.

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The Letter:

On the flight from Los Angeles to Washington, DC, Elvis got five pieces of American Airlines note paper and wrote a letter to President Nixon. Elvis planned to take it to the White House gate and ask the guard to see that it got delivered to the president. He thought it would convince Nixon to see him. And it worked out just like Elvis planned.

Elvis' Letter to Nixon

The letter is a classic. Here are some key excerpts with comments. If you have trouble reading Elvis’ penmanship on this next one, a text version follows.

Elvis' Letter to Nixon - The Hippie Element

Elvis' Letter to Nixon - The Hippie Element in Text

Elvis follows that with, “Sir, I can and will be of any service I can to help the country out.”

Elvis was setting the stage for his real purpose for the visit. He wanted to get Nixon to give him a Federal Marshal at Large badge (more on this later).

Elvis' Letter to Nixon - In Depth Study of Drug Abuse

Yes, it really does say, “I have done an in depth study of drug abuse and communist brainwashing techniques.” Incredible stuff, pure Elvis.

Elvis' Letter to Nixon - Love to Meet You

Say, Mr. President, I was just hoping I could pop in for a quick visit.

 

Elvis' Letter to Nixon - Phone Numbers for Return Call

Elvis wanted Nixon’s staff to call him back and set up the meeting, so it makes sense to give the phone number for the Washington Hotel where he was staying. But why the numbers for his homes in Beverly Hills, Palm Springs, and Memphis. He wasn’t at any of them. And three phone numbers for Col. Parker?

But look what it says below the hotel number – “Under the name of Jon Burrows.” If Elvis wanted to check in incognito, why would he show up like this?

Elvis' Outfit when He Met Nixon

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The Badge:

Elvis used his best powers of persuasion to convince Nixon to give him a badge as a special agent in the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs.

Elvis' Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Badge

If you have taken the Graceland tour, you saw that this badge was the centerpiece of Elvis’ collection of law enforcement badges.

Elvis' Badge from Department of Justic

 

The Gun Gift:

Elvis' Letter to Nixon - A Personal Gift for You

The gift Elvis referred to was a classic 45 caliber Colt pistol. It had been mounted in a glass case along with seven silver bullets and graced the walls of Elvis’ Beverly Hills home.

Elvis gift to Richard Nixon A 45 Caliber Colt pistol

Before Elvis left to go to LAX, he took the mounted gun off the wall and put it in his baggage (this was 1970, remember, before suitcases passed under x-ray scanners). The turmoil this gift caused with White House security was covered in the 1997 movie and certainly will be in the new Elvis & Nixon.

Gun Elvis gave Nixon on Display at Presidential Library

The Colt 45 gift from Elvis is now displayed at the Nixon Presidential Library.

Guess what the best-selling item there is.

Elvis Meets Nixon - The Official Picture

If you didn’t know, I’ll bet you guessed it.

 

Noxon's and Elvis' Suits on Display 2007 Nixon Museum

In 2007, Graceland loaned Elvis’ coat from the meeting to the Nixon Presidential library for an exhibit. They shouldn’t have the mannequin arms in the sleeves. Elvis didn’t wear it that way. It opened more draped over his shoulders, showing off that massive belt buckle.

 

Photoshopped Elvis and Nixon:

 

In 2009 and 2010, ElvisBlog presenting interesting variations on the historic photo. Here are some of the better ones.

 

Elvis and Nixon -- Heads Reversed

Heads Reversed

Elvis and Nixon' Faces reversed

Faces, but nnot hair, reversed

Double Elvis

Elvis Meets Elvis

Reagan and George Bush

George Bush Meets Ronald Reagan

Nixon, Elvis and Bubba Ho-Tep

Bubba Ho-Tep gets in the picture

Darth Vader and Elvis

Elvis meets Darth Vader

Nixon and Elvis Costello

Elvis Costello meets Nixon

 

So, that just about cleans out my file of Elvis and Nixon photos. Here’s something that is actually for sale at the Unites States National Archives:

Elvis and Nixon Snow Globes Snow Globes

 

One last thought. Rather than the official photograph of Nixon and Elvis, I much prefer this one.

Elvis Presley shakes hands with President Nixon

This one wasn’t posed. Elvis had just entered the Oval Office, still wearing his famous sunglasses and carrying pictures of Priscilla and Lisa and other stuff he wanted to show the President. Much cooler photo.

 

 

© 2016 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

 

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Elvis Meets Nixon – Part 2

Elvis Has Entered the White House

Last week, ElvisBlog reported that a new movie about Elvis would premier on April 22.  It is Elvis & Nixon, starring Kevin Spacey as Nixon and Michael Shannon as Elvis.  Like all Elvis fans, I hope it will be a good film, but I expressed doubts that it could be as enjoyable as a 1997 made-for-Showtime movie titled Elvis Meets Nixon.

Elvis Meets Nixon DVD

Take a look at the fine print on this DVD cover.  The New York Daily News called it “The giddiest, funniest, most entertaining comedy …in years.”  I absolutely agree.

Elvis Meets Nixon follows a semi-documentary format with Dick Cavett as the host and frequent voice-over narrator.  I have only one beef with his commentary.  In the very beginning, he says Elvis was a forgotten performer in 1970, reduced to doing Las Vegas shows.  That is so wrong.  Elvis was huge in Las Vegas, setting attendance records with his concerts.  He was the hottest ticket in town.

Dick Cavett In Elvis Meets Nixon

 

From that point on, Cavett does a good job, and one statement he made captures the essence of this movie.  While talking about the short time Elvis and Nixon actually spent together in the oval office, Cavett said, “If what you are about to see didn’t happen exactly this way, it should have.”  Actually, that sentiment could be made about the entire movie.

 

Nixon and Elvis Giving Peace Signs

 

Of course, it’s all a dramatization of events, and quite a bit of artistic license has been taken with the two main characters’ personalities and the absurdity of the reality these two men lived in.  Both were so out of touch with everyday life that it could have been destiny they found each other in this truly ironic way.

 

Elvis and Nixon Hugging in Oval Office

According to Jerry Schilling, Elvis did in fact hug Nixon.  The President was caught off guard, but the scene in the movie is very endearing.

 

Here’s the story on the two actors in the key roles.  Bob Gunton showed pure genius of comedic timing in his portrayal on Richard Nixon.  You may not know him by name, but you’ve seen his face in lots of movies.

Bob Gunton as Richard Nixon

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The fellow playing Elvis is Rick Peters, and his acting career has been rather modest.  His last movie was in 2006.

Rick Peters

 

But with the wig, sunglasses, and attitude, he pulls off a great Elvis portrayal.

Elvis Smoozing the Srewardesses on Flight from DC to Dallas

This clip is from the flight Elvis took from Washington DC to Dallas.  You see, Elvis’ odyssey took him from Memphis to DC, DC to Los Angeles (via Dallas), and from LA to DC.

Elvis Mingling on Plane -- Nixon Visit


This is a photograph a passenger took of Elvis mingling with folks on the flight to Dallas.  He wore the same outfit that he did when he went to the White House a day and a half later.

 

Elvis in Donut Shop

This clip is from a scene when Elvis stops off at a donut shop (in a rather seedy part of town) on the way from the airport to the Washington Hotel.  He actually did this, but the “artistic impression” of what happened is one of the most amazingly surreal moments I’ve ever seen on film.  Take a few minutes and watch this.

 

Here’s another clip that takes even more creative license, but it’s a riot.  The set-up is that Elvis had time to kill in Los Angeles before the flight back to DC, so he went down to the Sunset Strip.  His friend Jerry Schilling (they used the name Bobby Bishop in the film for some reason) urged him to walk around and see if he was relevant to people on the street.  Elvis wanders into a record store and goes through some hilarious culture shock.  Rick Peters does this bit so well, you will think you are watching archival film of the real Elvis.  You definitely want to click on this.

Elvis Meets Nixon is 140 minutes long, but the scene of Elvis and Nixon together in the Oval Office lasts just 11 minutes.  That was plenty for these two very different men to bond together.  Before the movie gets to Elvis’ visit, there are three scenes of Nixon and H.R. Haldeman in the Oval Office.  They aren’t funny like the Elvis clips, but they are still fascinating.  One warning — if you were were offended by the profanity in the donut shop clip, you might want to skip the one below.

 

There is one more thing I suggest you click on.  It is the full movie on YouTube.  You can buy it for $7.99, or rent it like I did for $1.99.  I wasn’t able to get it to stream onto my smart TV, but maybe you can.  If not, it’s still a blast watching it on your computer screen.  Check it out here.  I guarantee you will be happy you spent the two bucks.

Elvis Meets Nixon DVD

 

There is enough stuff left in my Elvis and Nixon file to squeeze out one more article in this series next week.  Stay tuned.

 

© 2016 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net
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Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

 

 

ELVIS meets NIXON

Elvis and Nixon Shades and Flag

We are about to see a flurry of promos and media buzz for a new movie about Elvis’ famous December 21, 1970 meeting with President Richard Nixon. It is titled Elvis & Nixon and will premiere on April 22.

 

Elvis & Nixon Poster

As a big Elvis fan, I really want to see this film; and I really, really hope to like it a lot. But I have some doubts. For instance, the guy they chose to play Elvis is Michael Shannon. In the preview clips I have seen, he does not look like Elvis at all.

Michael Shannon Plays Elvis Presley

So, what do you think? See much Elvis there? Maybe he looks better wearing an Elvis wig and shades and clothes.

Michael Shannon as Elvis

Sorry. To me he looks more like Evil Elvis living a parallel existence in an alternate universe. Or maybe Keith Richards.

To be fair, Michael Shannon has been in dozens of movies and is an excellent actor. In 2008, he was nominated for an Academy Award — Best Supporting Actor for his performance in the Leonardo DiCaprio/Kate Winslet movie Revolutionary Road. But he primarily plays intense, scary, bad guys, so why pick him to play Elvis?

 

President's Day Kevin Spacey as Nixon

The choice to play Nixon is perfect – Kevin Spacey. He is going great guns in House of Cards, and he’s excellent playing all those characters on the E-Trade commercials.

Kevin Spacey as Richard Nixon

My worry after watching an Elvis & Nixon featurette on You-Tube, is that Spacey will dominate the movie with an inspired portrayal of Nixon. That won’t bother the casual movie-goer, but we Elvis fans want our guy to be the center of attention.

 

Elvis and Nixon in Oval Office

One thing we can count on to keep the story on track is that Elvis’ good buddy Jerry Schilling is an Executive Producer of the movie. He was with Elvis on the trip to Washington DC and was inside the Oval Office for part of the time Elvis was with Nixon.

Sonny West and Jerry Schilling with Nixon and Elvis

Sonny West and Jerry Schilling between Nixon and Elvis

This picture was one of 28 taken by the White House photographer that day. The public is very familiar with the famous one of Nixon and Elvis shaking hands. It is the most requested photo from the US National Archives

The Official Photograph of Elvis and Nixon

To see all the photographs taken, click here.

Colorized Photo of Elvis Meeting Nixon

They were all black and white, but here is a colorized version of one of them.

Photographer Taking Official Photograph of Elvis Meeting Nixon

And this is the scene from the movie where they posed for the famous photo.

 

Elvis and Nixon - Historical Drama

The key thing to me in the heading of this article is “Historical Drama.” This implies that they will be playing it straight. However, the whole story of Elvis’ visit to Nixon is bizarre and surreal. There’s little drama to it. To me, the best way to tell this story is with humor, and, in fact, that has already been done.

Elvis Meets Nixon -1997 vrs 2016

The above composite shows this is not the first time a movie has been made about Elvis and Nixon. I absolutely love the 1997 version, and will devote the next ElvisBlog post to it. It is one of the most hilarious movies I have ever seen, and there are three You-Tube video clips that will show you what a great fun romp it is. Next week is going to be a really great post.

 

Elvis & Nixon Title Block

 

 

© 2016 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

 

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Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.