Monthly Archives: November 2011

“There's So Many Funny Things About That Meeting”

The above quote was made by Jerry Schilling, Elvis’ long time buddy.  The meeting he referred to was when Elvis met President Nixon in the Oval Office on December 21, 1970.  Schilling made the quote while participating last year in a panel discussion presented by the National Archives Administration.  It was titled We Were There When Nixon Met Elvis.  Schilling was joined on the panel by Emil (Bud) Krogh, Deputy Counsel to the President and the man who oversaw the War on Drugs.


At the panel discussion with Jerry Schilling and Bud Krogh, they were introduced as two men who had participated with their bosses in this historic event.  They are the definitive sources for all the strange events which made this story so compelling.  They will certainly be utilized as experts by the producers of the recently announced movie Nixon Meets Elvis.


Jerry Schilling and Bud Krogh

I strongly recommend you click here to see the YouTube video of the National Archives panel discussion.  It lasts one hour and fifteen minutes, but it is well worth your time.  Here are a few teases of what you will hear.


This is the famous six-page letter Elvis wrote to President Nixon.  After flying all night from Los Angeles, Elvis went to the White House before dawn and personally gave it to the Secret Service guards and asked that it be delivered to President Nixon.  Schilling tells how it shows Elvis was a proud patriotic American, but Schilling and Krogh have a little chuckle about Elvis’ line, “I have done an in-depth study of drug abuse and Communist Brainwashing techniques.”


Of course, Elvis wouldn’t visit the White House without taking the President a gift.  He chose a valuable WWII commemorative gun he had on the wall of his Bel Aire home.  It and seven bullets were mounted in a glass display frame.



The panelists had interesting stories about how the Secret Service ultimately waived White House protocol and let Elvis enter with his gun gift.  Schilling also told how Elvis had removed his three concealed pistols and left them on the floor on the limo before approaching the White House.


Elvis had a purpose for his visit to Nixon.  He wanted to get an official badge from the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs.  Schilling and Krogh talk about this at some length.  When the moderator asked Schilling if Elvis’ had fond memories of the meeting, he answered that Elvis was most proud that he got that badge.

One thing we learn from the discussion was that this iconic meeting was originally kept secret by agreement of both sides.  That was difficult because Elvis had come in contact with many government employees as he was shown parts of the White House and ate at the White House Mess.  But, the secrecy worked for thirteen months, until columnist Jack Anderson ferreted out what had happened and broke the news.



Schilling and Krogh told some other interesting stories that did not any illustrating images shown on the big screen.  There was Elvis’ decision to stop off at a Washington, DC donut shop.  Two Superfly types ogled at Elvis’ assortment of rings and other jewelry, and said, “That’s some really nice jewelry.”  Elvis pulled out a stub-nosed pistol and said, “And I aim to keep it.”

During his brief tour of the White House, Elvis was taken to the Situation (War) Room.  Elvis was a big fan of the movie Dr. Strangelove, and he could speak all the lines of every character.  When he entered the War Room, he blurted out a favorite Peter Sellers line, “You can’t fight in the War Room.”

Toward the end of the meeting, Elvis asked if Jerry Schilling and Sonny West could come into the Oval Office, too.  After they chatted with Nixon a bit, he went behind his desk and opened a drawer.  It had a selection of gift items the President gave to visitors.  It was so funny to hear Schilling tell Elvis how moved in and searched through everything to pick out proper gifts for him and his buddies – plus wives & girlfriends.


You probably have heard how Elvis often used the code name Jon Burrows when he travelled.  He used that name again on his trip to Washington DC, and on his letter to Nixon.  Think about this.  How does going under the name of Jon Burrows provide any secrecy when you go through two airports, a hotel lobby, a donut shop and a visit to the White House looking like this?


I’m sure nobody ever figured out he was Elvis.

Again, I urge that you watch “We Were There When Nixon Met Elvis.”


©  2011    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved


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

50th Anniversary Movie Pictorials: Blue Hawaii – 1961

Blue Hawaii was released fifty years ago in November 1961.  It was Elvis’ seventh film and was his most commercially successful movie, in spite of a rather skimpy plot.  There is lots of great scenery, and 26-year-old Elvis looked in top form in his skin-tight swim trunks. Plus, there’s no shortage of skimpily-clad young ladies cavorting on the beach.


Movie Posters:



Lobby Cards:


 Scenes from the Movie: 

Elvis arrives in Honolulu and stages this kiss to make girlfriend Maile (Joan Blackman) jealous.   Elvis kisses three other co-stars in Blue Hawaii.


Elvis and buddies play music while Maile is stuck in the surf with no bathing suit top. 


The famous wedding on a raft moving down a canal.


Down Time on the Set:           




Foreign Posters: 


German Posters


 French Poster                                                      Italian Poster

Elvis Kissing His Co-Stars:

Rebellious teenager Ellie plants a kiss on Elvis

The teenagers’ chaperon has a strange way of telling Elvis she has fallen in love with his father’s boss.  Maile sees it and gets the wrong idea, of course.

Elvis and Maile sort out the confusion and get married


Movie Press Book: 


Cheese Cake Photos:           


Joan Blackman looking good


©  2011    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved


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

Elvis & Money — Two Stories from Elvis & Nixon

Elvis fans know he always travelled with an entourage.   Four, five or six members of his Memphis Mafia accompanied Elvis everywhere, and they took care of all arrangements and logistics of the trips.  This included any expenses incurred, so Elvis never had the need to carry much money.  Somebody else always handled it.

So, when Elvis stormed out of Graceland on Saturday, December 19, 1970, all he had in his wallet was a little cash and a credit card he had never personally used.  This was the start of the strange saga that ended with Elvis meeting President Richard Nixon in the White House two days later.  His experiences with the money needs he encountered along the way are fascinating.

When Elvis arrived at the Memphis Airport, he went to the Pan Am ticket counter to get a flight to Washington DC.  According to the 1999 movie Elvis Meets Nixon, the girl behind the counter asked him how he wanted to pay for his ticket. 



Elvis reached for his wallet and realized he had forgotten to load up with cash before leaving home.  So, he tried a couple of ploys.  First, Elvis asked if they could just send the bill to the Colonel.  Of course, that didn’t work, so the counter girl brought her supervisor over to speak with Elvis.

Elvis made one more futile attempt to have the man send the bill to the Colonel.  When he got the same negative answer, Elvis pulled out the keys to his car.  He offered the supervisor a chance to drive Elvis’ brand new Cadillac while he was out of town, if they could work out a way to cover the ticket.



The man was tempted, but ultimately he backed away and asked if Elvis had a credit card.  Elvis finally remembered he carried a credit card in his wallet for emergencies, and this was one.  Problem solved.


Movies sometimes embellish the truth, and that may be the case here.  However, it is a documented fact the Elvis started his trip with almost no cash.  This was verified by Elvis’ long time friend Jerry Schilling at a January 2010 lecture program presented by The National Archives Administration.


National Archives presents “We Were There When Nixon Met Elvis”


This program, titled “We Were There When Nixon Met Elvis,” had two men share their experiences of the famous meeting.  In addition to Schilling, there was Egil (Bud) Krogh, Deputy Counsel to the President and the man who oversaw Nixon’s War on Drugs.  He was instrumental in setting up the meeting, and is included in some of the official photographs taken at the historic event.

Jerry Schilling was with Elvis for a day and a half before that meeting, and he was invited in to meet the President and was included in one of the last photos snapped to commemorate the event.  As Schilling explained at the panel discussion, after Elvis checked into the Hotel Washington, he returned to the airport and booked a flight to Los Angeles.  He called Schilling who had been living there for the previous year, working as an apprentice film editor.  Elvis asked him to pick him up at LAX.  Schilling complied, and the two spent the night at Elvis’ house on Hillcrest Drive in Beverly Hills.
Elvis wanted Schilling to accompany him back to Washington.  Schilling agreed and got back into his old routine of making arrangement for Elvis.  This included booking the flight and getting some money.  Elvis had a check book at his Beverly Hills home, but it was Sunday night and the banks were closed.  Money machines had not yet been invented in 1970.  Schilling had very little cash.  So what could they do?
Believe it or not, they contacted Gerald Peters, the limo driver Elvis always used while filming in Los Angeles.  Elvis called him Sir Gerald because he had once been a driver for Winston Churchill.  Sir Gerald provided limo service for the rich and famous, so he was well known to the management of the Beverly Hilton Hotel.  On the drive to the airport, they stopped at the hotel, and Sir Gerald, Elvis and Jerry Schilling went inside.  Together they got a check for $500 cashed.  Schilling put the envelope containing the bills in his inside coat pocket, and they headed to the airport with their money problem solved.




On the flight, Elvis moved around and socialized with many of the passengers.  The war in Viet Nam was going on in 1970, and Elvis spent ten minutes speaking with one of the G.I.s returning home for the holidays.  Here’s the rest of the story in Jerry Schilling’s words:

He (Elvis) comes back to me and he goes, “Where’s that money?”
I know what’s going to happen, so I said, “What money?”
And he goes, “The 500 dollars.”
I said, “Elvis, we’re going to Washington.  That’s all we’ve got.”
He said, “You don’t understand.  This man’s been in Viet Nam.  He’s going back home for Christmas.” 
Any true fan of Elvis instinctively knows how this story ends.  Elvis gave the soldier the entire $500.
Elvis moving around and talking to folks on the flight
These two little stories about Elvis illustrate some truths that make up the Elvis legend.  The first is a little sad because it shows what a sheltered existence his fame forced him into.  Without his buddies around him, Elvis could struggle with some things normal people take for granted.
The second story is so wonderful it can bring tears to your eyes.  Elvis is famous for giving away cars, rings, and so forth, but I think his actions with the soldier are the best example of his generosity I have ever heard.

©  2011    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved

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

Happy Veteran’s Day, Elvis — 2011





©  2011    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved

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

Eric Bana — A Good Choice for Elvis & Nixon Movie

On October 24, the Hollywood Reporter broke the news that a movie would be made about Elvis’ 1970 meeting with President Richard Nixon at the Whitehouse.  Within 24 hours, the story was on dozens of websites and media sources.



My first reaction was – hey, this had been done before.  Somebody already made a movie about the Nixon/Elvis meeting, and I have a copy of it on an old video tape.  I dug it out of my collection of Elvis-related movies.  There is some strange and funny stuff in there that I need to watch again someday.

Next I did a lot of Google searches about Elvis and Nixon, and before long, I had material for three different ElvisBlog articles.  For the first one, let’s start with Eric Bana, the actor chosen to portray Elvis in the new movie.

The obvious question is — can they make him look like a believable Elvis. The above photo used on the Hollywood Reporter story might make you wonder.   Another question might be about what movie credits Eric Bana has on his resume.  We can answer both questions by looking at some shots from his movies.



Here he is as Sgt. First Class “Hoot” Gibson in Black Hawk Down from 2002.  He sort of has the “Charro” look with sunglasses.  Good, strong facial feature.



In 2003, Eric Bana played Bruce Banner who turned into Hulk after being hit by an experimental ray. 




Here he is playing Prince Hector in Troy from 2004.  If that is his own hair, they certainly can fix it to look like Elvis.  They will also need to work on the nose a bit, too.


In Munich from 2005, Eric Bana played Avner, the Mossad agent on the four-man unit created to wipe out the Olympic terrorists.  Too bad Elvis wasn’t bearded when he met Nixon, because Bana looks good that way.


Another role without a heavy beard.  Here Bana plays Henry in The Time Traveler’s Wife from 2009.  Colored contact lenses could easily change the eye color from brown to blue.


Bana plays evil Captain Nemo in Star Trek, also released in 2009.  Of course Eric Bana looks nothing like Elvis here, but it does show the kind of transformation the make-up artists can pull off.


This partial revue of Eric Bana’s films shows he has handled a variety of acting rolls and should do fine portraying Elvis.  He is an Australian who has learned to sound like an American, and should have no trouble learning to speak like a good old boy from Mississippi.

The next two photos did not come from any movies.  One is a candid shot of Bana walking down the street, and the other is a publicity still.




Finally, we have a publicity photo that should convince anybody that Eric Bana is the man to play Elvis.  There’s an old joke about rating someone as minus zero on the Elvis Scale.  If the scale is 1 to 10, I think Eric Bana gets about a 9.



©  2011    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved

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