Nixon’s Palace Guard

January 1970: The White House guard (secret service uniformed division) publicly revealed their new uniforms which featured a white, double-breasted tunic with gold shoulder trim and a stiff shako hat with peaked front. They replaced the black uniforms the guards had previously worn on ceremonial occasions.

President Nixon had ordered that a new uniform be designed after he had seen what palace guards wore in other countries and had decided that the White House needed something as fancy.

However, almost no one liked the new uniforms. People made comments such as:

  • "they look like extras from a Lithuanian movie"
  • "Late Weimar Republic"
  • "Nazi uniforms"
  • "like a palace guard of toy soldiers"
  • "will they be goose-stepping, or what?"
  • "falls somewhere between early high school band and late palace guard."
  • "They look like old-time movie ushers."
  • Chicago Tribune columnist Walter Trohan complained they were a "frank borrowing from decadent European monarchies, which is abhorrent to this country‚Äôs democratic tradition."

The guards themselves complained that they felt too theatrical and that the hats were uncomfortable. So within a month the hats had disappeared. The white jackets lasted longer, but eventually they too were mothballed.

Alton Evening Telegraph - Jan 30, 1970

However, the uniforms weren't thrown out. They sat in storage for a decade, and in 1980 they were sold to the Meriden-Cleghorn High School Marching Band in Iowa.

Los Angeles Times - May 15, 1980

     Posted By: Alex - Fri Oct 28, 2016
     Category: Fashion | 1970s

Why does the agent nearest in line look familiar? And I do agree with the first comment but that is probably an insult to the Lithuanians.
Posted by KDP on 10/28/16 at 02:43 PM
King Richard building his imperial guard.
Posted by Gator Guy on 10/28/16 at 07:22 PM
Agent nearest in line is Elvis.
Posted by Courtney on 10/28/16 at 08:22 PM
Maybe someone can help me on this.

I vaguely remember a comic strip from this period that had a character in the shape of "a gnu" (i.e. "Agnew"), wearing one of these uniforms. Maybe it was "Pogo".

Is there anyone out there with a slightly better memory than mine? Can you find any web links?
Posted by Joshua Zev Levin, Ph.D. on 10/29/16 at 04:53 AM
Oh, most definitely POGO:
Posted by Paul on 10/29/16 at 09:32 AM
Nixon should have got his inspiration from the Swiss Guard instead of monarch palace guards.
Posted by Fluffy Bunny Slippers on 10/29/16 at 10:14 PM
KDP, that is TOTALLY John Cleese!!!
Posted by PupTentacle on 10/30/16 at 06:14 PM
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