High Strangeness, 70s Style: Elvis Presley, Federal Narcotics Agent-at-Large

If you’re not conversant with the lore of Elvis Presley, first, my deepest sympathies. Second, you may not realize he was always fascinated with law enforcement. During his life, he was made an honorary officer by many police departments, and an absolutely enormous collection of his badges and guns and patches is on display at Graceland. But perhaps the most notable of these is the badge he received after showing up at the White House to meet Nixon in late December, 1970.

Elvis Presley’s Federal Badge as Agent at Large for the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous DrugsElvis wrote a six-page letter to Nixon and made a spur-of-the-moment visit to the White House in pursuit of a post as a Federal Agent-at-Large for the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, a non-existent position, but one from which he thought he could be influential. Despite the King’s later medical history, this situation wasn’t really a case of the fox wanting to be in charge of the henhouse, you cynics. It was most likely the result of an Elvis-in-crisis being earnestly convinced by some groovy young folks in California that he bore some responsibility for the contemporary drug culture. He wanted to be a representative for uprightness instead. To be that probably didn’t require a badge, but he wanted one anyway. He liked ’em. The E.P. of T.C.B. first hit up a Senator and then the B.N.D.D’s Director before leapfrogging them to ask the president himself, delivering a handwritten entreaty to the White House steps at 6:30am. Not strange at all.

That Presley actually got the badge from the president reflects Nixon’s attempt at political outreach to younger Americans, a group that didn’t favor him much. The odd juxtaposition of the two different men and their goals was so compelling that in 1997 Showtime aired Elvis Meets Nixon, a mockumentary. Below is just a teaser clip, but the entire movie’s available online as well. So that happened, and thank you, thank you very much.

Image and more background at PI Mall.

Comments

  1. Saundra Peck

    In my teen years, late 70’s and early 80’s, my mom had every book written about Elvis….usually written by an ex-entourage member or “friend of a friend”. I was always impressed (and even more sad) that Elvis was always so generous, and often tried to make friends by giving things to people (cars were a frequent gift). He also seemed to want to be normal, or to do good things with the excesses he struggled with. He seems to be one of the most visible souls that warned us of what the stars of today would suffer through. RIP Elvis…you were a wonderful singer! And you were very good to your Momma!!!

  2. Leroy Brown

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