Whatever happened to Elvis Presley’s Federal Badge?

By | August 10, 2018

Question:
Whatever happened to Elvis's Federal badge? Did he ever use it? Did Elvis, probable one of the most recognizable icons of the 50's, 60's and 70's ever use that federal badge and represent himself as a federal agent?

Elvis Presley collected police badges and liked to cary them around. In Dec 1970 he coveted a Federal Narcotics Badge which he believed would convey special authority.

When Elvis met Nixon
"The narc badge represented some kind of ultimate power to him," Priscilla Presley wrote in "Elvis and Me," her memoir of life with the King. "With the federal narcotics badge, he [believed he] could legally enter any country both wearing guns and carrying any drugs he wished."

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In pursuit of the badge, Elvis spontaneiously travelled to Washington DC in late Dec of 1970. Wrote a note to President Nixon and personally dropped it off at the Whitehouse guard station. The letter went to Nixon deputy assistant Dwight Chapin, who got a meeting approved with Nixon's incredulous chief of staff (H.R. Halderman).

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After an initial security issue was handled, the two men met. The issue was, Elvis tried to enter the White house oval office carrying a weapon. A present which he had brought from his home (on a commercial flight??) to give Nixon as a gift. President Nixon eventually did take the meeting.

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In the meeting Elvis explained to Nixon that he was accepted by the Hippie crowd and Black Panther Party. Elvis offered to go "undercover", using his fame, reputation and acceptance with America's youth and counter culture to assist the Government in handling the drug problem. All Elvis wished for in return was a Federal Narcotics Badge **("Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs" badge).

When Elvis met Nixon
Keogh (Nixon advisor Egil "Bud" Krogh) said, "And then the real reason for the trip finally came out as Elvis said, 'Mr. President, can you get me a badge from the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs?' And the president looked and he said, 'Bud, can we get him a badge?' And I said, 'Well, Mr. President, if you want to get him a badge, we can do that.' He said, 'Well, get him a badge.' "

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Smithsonian
Elvis was ecstatic. “In a surprising, spontaneous gesture,” Keogh wrote, Elvis “put his left arm around the President and hugged him.”

After Keogh took him(Elvis) to lunch at the White House mess, Elvis received his gift—the narc badge.

At Elvis’ request, the meeting was kept secret. A year later, columnist Jack Anderson broke the story—“Presley Gets Narcotics Bureau Badge”—but few people seemed to care.

Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Jack Anderson says Elvis also approached Deputy Narcotics Director John Finlator in pursuit of the badge but was declined prior to Nixon granting him the badge.

Elvis also attempted to approach the FBI's J. Edgar Hoover. .

When Elvis met Nixon
Associates say Elvis carried the badge in its leather case always.

The meeting of the two became public years after Nixon left office and Elvis had died. The National Archives started receiving requests for the iconic photograph after a Chicago paper published an article about the event in the 1980's.

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Whatever happened to Elvis's Federal badge? Did he ever use it? Did Elvis, probable one of the most recognizable icons of the 50's, 60's and 70's ever use that federal badge and represent himself as a federal agent?

Sources:
- Smithsonian: When Elvis Met Nixon
- Cleveland: When Elvis met Nixon: The true story behind the gun, the badge, and the movie
- Washington Post: Jack Anderson: Presley Gets Narcotics Bureau Badge
- Washington Post: Elvis Volunteered to Inform for the FBI, 1970 Memo Says