Nixon Museum - Elvis display.

Suspicious Minds: Elvis And Nixon Meet Again

We've always enjoyed visits to the Richard Nixon Library And Birthplace in Yorba Linda, California. Displays such as a replica of the Alger Hiss pumpkin, and headphones to listen to the "smoking gun" Watergate tape, appeal to Nixon geeks like us. But by far the best part of this place is the "Gifts of the People" room, exhibiting one of Sammy Davis, Jr's. "Love and Peace" medallions -- and the handgun presented to Richard Nixon by Elvis Presley.

The gun display has now been expanded into a full-blown exhibit. "The President and The King," brings visitors back to the magical date of December 21, 1970, when Elvis showed up unannounced at the White House and asked to see Richard Nixon.

Elvis told Nixon that he had come to lend his name and support to Nixon's as-yet-unnamed "War on Drugs," but what The King really wanted was a shield from the U.S. Bureau of Narcotics to add to his collection of law enforcement badges. Elvis got his badge -- and a pair of presidential cuff links -- and gave Nixon the gun in exchange. A photo was taken of the two shaking hands. It is the most popular postcard image at the Nixon Library.

"I don't see anything undignified about it," said Sandy Quinn, assistant director of the Nixon Library. According to Quinn, no one has ever complained about Elvis's presence in Nixon's library. "If they had, we probably wouldn't be doing this."

The exhibit features the famous photo enlarged to life-size, and set in a specially-built room. Next to Nixon and Elvis, under glass, are the actual clothes they wore in the photo: Elvis's black velvet suit and gold, diamond-studded belt (on loan from Graceland) and Nixon's gray suit and tie, described by the Library as "statesmanlike" and "tasteful."

Warner Brothers studio in Hollywood had offered to loan the Library its Oval Office set from the TV series West Wing, which would have made a great photo-op with the life-size photos. Sadly, according to Quinn, it was just too big to get through any available door or window.

[01/13/2007]

Nixon Presidential Library & Museum

Address:
18001 Yorba Linda Blvd, Yorba Linda, CA
Directions:
FROM EAST-WEST: Riverside Freeway [Hwy 91] to Imperial Hwy/Hwy 90 exit. North roughly two miles to Yorba Linda Blvd., then west to the Museum. FROM NORTH-SOUTH: Orange Freeway [Hwy 57] to Yorba Linda Blvd. exit. East roughly three miles to the Museum.
Hours:
M-Sa 10-5, Su 11-5 (Call to verify)
Phone:
714-993-9120
Admission:
Adults $12.
RA Rates:
Major Fun
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