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.
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.
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 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).
Yes, it really does say, “I have done an in depth study of drug abuse and communist brainwashing techniques.” Incredible stuff, pure Elvis.
Say, Mr. President, I was just hoping I could pop in for a quick visit.
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 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.
If you have taken the Graceland tour, you saw that this badge was the centerpiece of Elvis’ collection of law enforcement badges.
The Gun Gift:
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.
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.
The Colt 45 gift from Elvis is now displayed at the Nixon Presidential Library.
Guess what the best-selling item there is.
If you didn’t know, I’ll bet you guessed it.
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.
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:
One last thought. Rather than the official photograph of Nixon and Elvis, I much prefer this one.
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.
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