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Nixon and Presley: A Meeting of Icons



TDMB yesterday marked the 78th birthday of Elvis Presley. Today, it turns out, is the centennial of Richard Nixon.

It is fairly well known that the two icons met in the White House on December 21, 1970. There is a famous photo of the meeting. Even though it’s familiar, it’s one of those images that seems to get even more interesting over time. The shot was taken by White Hose Photographer Oliver Atkins.

The two others in the photo above are Sonny West and Jerry Schilling. I believe West is next to Nixon. In the photo below (or after the jump inside), Nixon looks at Presley’s cuff links. The third man in the photo is Egil Krogh, who ended up going to jail for authorizing the burglary of Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s office.

Here is the text of the letter Presley sent Nixon requesting the meeting. It was written on American Airlines stationery:

Dear Mr. President:

First, I would like to introduce myself. I am Elvis Presley and admire you and have great respect for your office. I talked to Vice President Agnew in Palm Springs three weeks ago and expressed my concerns for our country. The drug culture, the hippie elements, the SDS, Black Panthers, etc. do not consider me as their enemy or as they call it, the establishment. I call it America and I love it. Sir, I can and will be of any service that I can to help the country out. I have no concerns or motives other than helping the country out. So, I wish not to be given a title or an appointed position. I can and will do more good if I were made a Federal Agent at Large and I will help out by doing it my way through communications with people of all ages. First and foremost, I am an entertainer, but all I need is the Federal credentials. I am on the plane with Senator George Murphy and we have been discussing the problems that our country is faced with.

Sir, I am staying at the Washington Hotel, Room 505-506-507. I have two men who work with me by the name of Jerry Schilling and Sonny West. I am registered under the name of Jon Burrows. I will be here for as long as it takes to get the credentials of a Federal Agent. 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 I can and will do the most good.

I am glad to help just so long as it is kept very private. You can have your staff or whomever call me anytime today, tonight or tomorrow. I was nominated this coming year one of America’s Ten Most Outstanding Young Man. That will be in January 18 in my home town of Memphis, Tennessee. I am sending you a short autobiography about myself so you can better understand this approach. I would love to meet you just to say hello if you’re not too busy.


Elvis Presley

P.S. I believe that you, Sir, were one of the Top Ten Outstanding Men of America Also.

I have a personal gift for you which I would like to present to you and you can accept it or I will keep it for you until you can take it.