15 celebrities at the White House, from Elvis Presley to Kim Kardashian and BTS

Here’s what stars get up to in the Oval Office including Princess Diana dancing with John Travolta and Pele giving President Gerald Ford a football lesson

Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

Korean boyband BTS’s visit to the White House this week is the latest in a long line of celebrities who have been hosted there by US presidents.

The group travelled to Washington DC to meet with President Joe Biden in private, and also to discuss Asian representation and address hate crimes in the US.

“We were devastated by the recent surge of hate crimes, including hate crimes against Asian-Americans. To put a stop to this and support the cause, we'd like to take this opportunity to be heard once again,” the group said through their translator. “We are here today thanks to our army — our fans worldwide — who have different nationalities and cultures and use different languages.”

From Elvis Presley and Richard Nixon’s meeting, to Kanye West and Donald Trump’s face-to-face, here are 15 unforgettable celebrity visits to the White House.

Elvis Presley and Richard Nixon

President Richard Nixon meets Elvis Presley at the White House on December 21, 1970. Photo: National Archive / Newsmakers

Before Watergate destroyed Richard Nixon’s career, the King of rock ‘n’ roll Elvis Presley met the president at the White House on December 21, 1970.

Elvis was there to offer his services to promote the administration’s anti-drug campaign. This image of the pair is the most requested photograph in all the US National Archives.

James Brown and Richard Nixon

Like Kanye West would do decades later, the Godfather of Soul James Brown alienated a huge swathe of his fans when he met with the president at the White House.

Having previously performed at Nixon’s 1968 inauguration, the African-American singer visited in 1972 to show his support for the administration, whose conservative policies he publicly endorsed.

Pele and Gerald Ford

The Brazilian football star visited the White House in 1975 during the Ford administration.

Pele famously gave the president a quick football lesson on the White House lawn, showing him how to juggle the ball.

Pele was a repeat visitor to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue over the years, visiting presidents Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.

Johnny Cash, June Carter Cash and Jimmy Carter

President Jimmy Carter meets Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash on June 14, 1977. Photo: National Archives

Johnny Cash and his family visited the White House on numerous occasions, meeting with Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. But on June 14, 1977, it was Jimmy Carter’s turn to meet the Man in Black.

Cash and his wife, fellow musician June Carter Cash, went to the White House to be honoured for their work with the Industry Retraining and Employment programme for veterans.

Michael Jackson and Ronald Reagan

The King of Pop met the president on May 14, 1984, while being given a special honour.

The Man in the Mirror singer was given the Presidential Public Safety Communication Award at a White House ceremony for allowing his song Beat It to be used in a public service campaign raising awareness of teenage drinking and driving.

Princess Diana, Prince Charles and Ronald Reagan

Mandatory Credit: Photo by REX/Shutterstock (2662657b)
Princess Diana dances with John Travolta
White House dinner, Washington DC, America - 09 Nov 1985
Previously unseen photos of Princess Diana dancing with a host of stars at a White House dinner in 1985 have emerged. At the event the late Princess famously showed off her dance moves with Saturday Night Fever king John Travolta. However, now new images reveal that the then 24-year-old royal also took to the dance floor with a number of other famous faces. This includes Clint Eastwood, Tom Selleck and United States President Ronald Reagan. For the dinner Diana wore a now famous Victor Edelstein gown, which sold earlier this year for £240,000.

While Prince Charles and Princess Diana were invited to the White House in 1985 by President Reagan, the event became more famous as the night Diana danced with Hollywood star John Travolta.

The gala dinner was held in the royals’ honour and marked Diana’s first trip to the US. Reagan famously muddled up the princess’s name twice during his welcome speech.

Elton John and Ronald Reagan

The British singer met with Reagan in the Oval Office back in 1982.

The meeting would later take on greater socio-political relevance, as the pair met when the first Aids cases were emerging in the US.

The Reagan administration famously ignored the illness, while Elton would go on to become an activist and fundraiser on behalf of those affected by HIV.

Bono and George W. Bush

The U2 frontman later admitted of his meeting with President Bush: “He didn’t want to see me.”

Bono visited the White House in 2005 to discuss global poverty, Aids and debt relief. The Oval Office meeting was controversial at the time owing to the pair's differing political beliefs.

Years later, Bono said of Bush: “I’ve become very fond of him. Underneath his armour, there’s passion, compassion. He has it.”

Jay Z, Beyonce and Barack Obama

The trio have developed a close relationship over the years, with the music power couple making numerous visits to the White House during the eight-year Obama administration.

In 2010, the couple brought their mums along to meet the president, returning in 2013 with their daughter Blue Ivy.

Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and Barack Obama

In January 2012, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie visited the White House while they were in Washington DC for a screening of Jolie’s film In the Land of Blood and Honey.

A White House aide later said the president “spoke with Ms Jolie about her work to raise the profile of preventing mass atrocities and combatting sexual violence against women”.

Bob Dylan and Barack Obama

Another return visitor to the White House, celebrated American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan joined the Obama administration twice in 2010 and 2012.

Dylan’s second visit was to receive the Medal of Freedom, the country’s highest civilian honour.

Kanye West and Donald Trump

Rapper Kanye West, left, shakes hands with U.S. President Donald Trump during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018. West, a recording artist and prominent Trump supporter, is at the White House to have lunch with the president and to meet with presidential son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner who has spearheaded the administrations efforts overhaul the criminal justice system. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

The rapper was invited to the Oval Office in October 2018. During the visit he wore a “Make America Great Again” cap and spoke to reporters for 10 minutes on a range of subjects including mental health, manufacturing and the 13th Amendment. West also said he related to President Trump’s “male energy”.

Kim Kardashian and Donald Trump

The reality TV star visited the White House in March 2020 to discuss prison reform with Trump.

Kardashian was accompanied by three women, former prisoners Crystal Munoz, Judith Negron and Tynice Hall, who each had their sentences commuted by Trump at Kardashian’s behest.

Olivia Rodrigo and Joe Biden

President Joe Biden records a video address with Olivia Rodrigo on July 14, 2021, in the Oval Office of the White House. Photo: Adam Schultz / White House

The Gen Z singer was invited to the White House to encourage young people to get the Covid-19 vaccine.

During her visit on July 14, 2021, the good 4 U singer took to the White House press briefing room podium to “lend my support to this important initiative".

BTS and Joe Biden

The Korean boyband met with President Biden on May 31, to discuss Asian inclusion and representation, and to address anti-Asian hate crimes in the US.

Each of the seven members of the group spoke at the podium in the White House press briefing room, with an interpreter on hand to translate.

Their meeting with Biden was held behind closed doors, with a White House official saying that the group would be filming "digital content" for White House social media channels.

Updated: June 09, 2022, 1:15 PM
MORE FROM THE NATIONAL