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What Happened When Elvis Presley Met Richard Nixon?

The photograph is jarring. Taken at the White House on December 21, 1970, it shows President Richard Nixon, who was summoning America’s “silent majority” in his fight against counterculture. And then there’s Elvis Presley, the hip-swiveling music icon, visiting the Oval Office in a purple velvet suit with a massive gold belt buckle. The backstory is that Presley wanted to add a badge from the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs to his collection, and Nixon welcomed the singer’s offer of help quieting “the hippies.” Elvis said that he wanted to help restore respect for the flag and told Nixon that he was “on your side.”

An unlikely alliance:

  • Elvis brought Nixon a gift -- a Colt .45 pistol in a display case -- that the Secret Service confiscated.

  • Elvis' former wife Priscilla Presley wrote in her 1985 memoir that Elvis believed “the narc badge” would allow him to “enter any country both wearing guns and carrying any drugs he wished.”

  • Presley died of an overdose of prescription drugs (including codeine, Valium, morphine and Demerol) in 1977. Nixon resigned in 1974, charged with obstruction of justice, abuse of power, and contempt of Congress.

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