Movie Mom

Movie Mom


The Real Story: “The Butler” and the Real Man Who Served Eight Presidents

posted by Nell Minow

“Lee Daniels’ The Butler” has Forest Whitaker as a man who worked for eight Presidents in the White House from the time of Jim Crow segregation to the Civil Rights era.  It was inspired by the real-life story of Eugene Allen, who came to the White House to work for Harry Truman and stayed on through Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, and Reagan. Just before Barack Obama was about to become America’s first black President, Washington Post reporter Wil Haygood thought it would be interesting to talk to a black employee in the White House “from the era of segregation.” He found Allen, and wrote “A Butler Well Served,”

When he started at the White House in 1952, he couldn’t even use the public restrooms when he ventured back to his native Virginia. “We had never had anything,” Allen, 89, recalls of black America at the time. “I was always hoping things would get better.”

Allen wore a tuxedo on the job and often worked six days a week.  He was proud that he never missed a day.  When he retired, President and Mrs. Reagan invited him to a State dinner.  As a guest.  He was able to vote for Barack Obama in 2008.  He died in 2010.

The new all-star film fictionalizes the details but has Forest Whitaker as a butler based on Allen and Oprah Winfrey as his wife, with history happening all around them, affecting time, sometimes in contrast to what their family experiences.

For more details, read Haygood’s new book about Eugene Allen, The Butler: A Witness to History.



Previous Posts

A Trailer for A Movie You'll Never See: Moonquake Lake with Mila Kunis and Rihanna
"Moonquake Lake" has a lot of star power behind it -- "LEGO Movie" directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord and stars Mila Kunis, Ashton Kutcher, and Rihanna. And it looks....intriguing, some sort of "Twilight"-style supernatural teen romance. It just isn't real. "Moonquake Lake" is a movie with

posted 3:54:43pm Dec. 17, 2014 | read full post »

New Additions to the National Film Registry: 2014
The Library of Congress has announced this year's additions to the National Film Registry. 25 “culturally, historically or aesthetically” significant titles are added each year, under the terms of the National Film Preservation Act. The films must be at least 10 years old. The Librarian makes

posted 12:34:12pm Dec. 17, 2014 | read full post »

Black Reel Awards Nominations 2014
One of the great pleasures of this time of year is voting for so many of my favorite filmmakers as a part of the Black Reel Awards. Thanks, as ever, to Tim Gordon for allowing me to participate. I think it is fair to say we had more and better choices this year than we ever have before. Here are

posted 9:14:29am Dec. 17, 2014 | read full post »

A Hannukah Version of "Shake it Off!"
[iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/NoHp2Rq8sMI?rel=0" frameborder="0"]

posted 8:00:41am Dec. 17, 2014 | read full post »

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Visually stunning, capably presented, and utterly unnecessary, this final in the six-movie Tolkien cycle is just for the fans.  I think even Tolkien himself would cry "no mas" at this p

posted 5:47:22pm Dec. 16, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.