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Facial Hair Friday: Presley, Presley is our cry!

Letter from from Linda Kelly, Sherry Bane, and Mickie Mattson to President Eisenhower (ARC 594359)

Do sideburns set your heart aflutter? It’s been 35 years since Elvis Presley died, but judging from the media coverage and chatter on Twitter with #ElvisWeek, his fan base is still enthusiastic. But the some of the most passionate fan letters about the bewhiskered singer can be found in the National Archives.

In 1958, Linda Kelly, Sherry Bane, and Mickie Mattson in Montana were beside themselves (“we will just about die!”) at the idea of Elvis having to take a razor to his sideburns as part of his patriotic duty when he was drafted into the Army in March 1958. They wrote to President Eisenhower, but unfortunately their favorite singer still had to serve—and groom himself according to Army regulations. The letter is now a part of the holdings of the Eisenhower Presidential Library.

Fans also bypassed the President and sent pleas directly to the First Lady, hoping she would be more sympathetic to their cause. But this letter to Mamie Eisenhower did not end up in the Eisenhower Presidential Library records. Instead, the First Lady’s office sent the letter to the Army, with the notation “Respectfully referred for appropriate handling.”

The letter went into Elvis’s Official Military Personnel File, or OMPF, where it became a part of the National Archives as part of the permanent holdings of the  National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, MO.

Dear Mamie,
Will you please please be so sweet and kind as to ask Ike to please bring Elvis Presley back to us from the Army. We need him in our entertainment world to make us all laugh. The theatres need him to help fill their many empty seats. . . . Also did you know Elvis has been paying $500,000 in income taxes. We feel the huge taxes he has been paying could help our defense effort far more than his stay in the Army. Please ask Ike to bring Elvis back to us soon.

Letter to Mamie Eisenhower (RG 319, Records of the Army Staff)

For more VIP military records, see our Prologue article “VIPs in Uniform: A Look at the Military Files of the Famous and Famous-To-Be.”

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