Netflix’s upcoming animated comedy series Agent Elvis depicts the King of Rock and Roll (voiced by Matthew McConaughey) as a gun-wielding, karate-kicking secret agent with a chimpanzee sidekick. Although it all sounds pretty outrageous, most elements of this premise are inspired by real events. Elvis did meet with President Richard Nixon and requested an official badge from the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. In their meeting, he told Nixon he had been studying up on the dangers of drug culture and Communism, and wanted to help his country combat these evils. Presley was also a committed karate student and instructor, rising to the level of 8th degree black belt in 1974. And he did indeed have a pet chimpanzee named Scatter who had a tendency to terrorize Elvis’ family and friends.
As we dive into the true facts and details behind these stories, we’ll see how the outrageousness and eccentricity of Elvis’ life lends itself perfectly to this only somewhat far-fetched comedy.
Elvis Asked Richard Nixon to Make Him a Federal Agent
On December 21, 1970, Elvis Presley met with President Richard Nixon in the Oval Office. Despite the fact that Elvis had a serious addiction to prescription drugs, he was intent on combating drug culture (illegal substances only, apparently) and wanted Nixon to give him a badge from the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. In his letter to the president, Elvis wrote, “I can and will do more good if I were made a Federal Agent at Large…I have done an in-depth study of drug abuse and Communist brainwashing techniques.”
Nixon agreed to meet with Presley despite initial skepticism and in their half-hour chat, they discussed their mutual disdain for 1960s counterculture. When Elvis asked about his federal agent badge, Nixon surprisingly gave one to him. The President and the King of Rock and Roll then hugged and bid each other a fond farewell.
As far as we know, Presley did not subsequently partake in any secret missions to bring down drug lords or Communist dictators a la Jack Ryan, but his meeting with Nixon was strange and memorable enough to inspire the premise of Agent Elvis.
Elvis Was a Karate Master
When Elvis was drafted into the Army in the late 1950s, he was stationed in Germany, where he met a karate instructor who first introduced the King to the martial arts. Elvis trained frequently in Germany and kept up the habit for many years. When he returned to Los Angeles in 1960, he received a black belt. He later continued his studies in Memphis, where he was elevated to the rank of 7th degree Black Belt in 1973.
Elvis was serious enough about karate that he eventually became an instructor. Some of his classmates were intimidated by him, but he put their minds at ease. When one small boy admitted he was scared of the King, Presley gifted the boy an engraved watch.
In 1974, Elvis advanced once again, to the rank of 8th degree Black Belt. As Elvis’ health declined in the following few years before his death in 1977, he wasn’t quite as devoted a student. But his dedication to the discipline of martial arts eventually earned him a place in the Martial Arts Hall of Fame.
As far as we know, Elvis never needed to use his martial arts skills outside the classroom to fight evildoers, but then again, perhaps the infamous 18 minutes of missing audio tapes from Nixon’s White House would reveal otherwise.
Elvis Had a Pet Chimp Named Scatter
Scatter the chimpanzee was once an actor who appeared on a local Memphis TV station in a variety of roles ranging from businessman to baseball player. At some point, Scatter’s owner decided to sell Scatter to the King of Rock and Roll, apparently deciding that Graceland would be a good home for the beloved chimp. Elvis agreed and Scatter moved into the King’s mansion.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the presence of a chimpanzee inside Elvis’ home did not turn out so well. Scatter enjoyed hiding inside bathrooms and jumping out to scare people who entered. He also tore up expensive curtains, had a tendency to throw things, and occasionally bit people. Allegedly, he was also a fan of beer and whiskey (which might explain the biting).
When Elvis went to Hollywood to focus on his movie career, Scatter came along. Scatter enjoyed the fast lane lifestyle until he escaped several times from a house in Bel Air. The neighbors complained and Scatter was sent back to Graceland, where he died sometime thereafter, hopefully of natural causes. Rumor has it that Scatter’s final resting place is in the backyard of Graceland, not too far from his beloved owner, the King of Rock and Roll.
Although Scatter is depicted as a gun-wielding talking chimpanzee in Agent Elvis, there is no evidence that the primate ever spoke, nor that he shot anyone. It’s probably best for the well-being of humanity that Scatter couldn’t vocalize his thoughts or master the use of firearms.