When Elvis met Nixon

The remarkable encounter between Elvis Presley and President Nixon has inspired a new film. But what is the stranger-than-fiction story behind the image?

It's the most requested item in the US National Archives - more popular than the photos of the moon landing, the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. The iconic image shows the meeting between the president and the King: the real-life encounter between Elvis Presley and President Nixon in the Oval Office in December, 1970.

The facts of the encounter seem stranger than fiction. A satirical film based on the events, starring Kevin Spacey as Nixon and Michael Shannon as Elvis will be released in April, billed as "the true story you won't quite believe".

On a flight to Washington DC, Elvis - who rarely wrote - requested notepaper and proceeded to pen a letter to the president, offering "any service I can to help the country out" and requesting to be made "a federal agent at large".

That morning Elvis delivered the letter to the White House in person, where it made it into the hands of Nixon aide (and Elvis fan) Egil 'Bud' Krogh. A meeting was set up for 12.30 that day.

Elvis appeared at noon, wearing a flared jumpsuit, a large gold belt buckle and sunglasses. He carried a gift for the president: a Colt .45 pistol from his private collection.

Krogh, who documented the meeting and later wrote a book on the encounter, described in his notes how Elvis showed off his badges to the president before stating "that he thought the Beatles had been a real force for anti-American spirit". The president gave his opinion that "those who use drugs are also at the vanguard of anti-American protest".

Then Elvis explained the real reason for his visit: his desire for a badge from the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs.

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