When Elvis cadged a badge from Nixon

033015blog nixon and elvis

President Nixon and Elvis Presley shake hands in December 1970.

Credit: The U.S. National Archives

The photo-sharing site Flickr last week announced the 100th institutional participant in its project called The Commons, which sweeps big collections of copyright-free photographs into a gigantic searchable archive that anyone can peruse and use for free.

In making the announcement on its blog, Flickr trotted out this famous photo of President Richard Nixon and Elvis Presley shaking hands (above). While the tale behind the picture may be familiar to Nixon and Presley scholars, it was new to me. From the Flickr post:

Elvis Presley was famously obsessed with police badges, owning a huge collection of them. A notable hole in his collection was a badge from the then Federal Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (a predecessor of the DEA); he reportedly believed that “..with the federal narcotics badge, he could legally enter any country both wearing guns and carrying any drugs he wished.” On an overnight flight in an impromptu visit to Washington D.C., Elvis wrote a note to President Nixon requesting a meeting so he could get a “narc badge.” The visit was arranged the same day.

If not for the fact that the story is told on a site as reliable as Smithsonian.com, I would have run it through Snopes before passing it along. You can read it here.

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