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

Guest Post: Tara Sonenshine on "Calvary"
My deepest thanks to Tara Sonenshine for allowing me to publish her thoughtful comments on "Calvary," starring Brendan Gleeson as a troubled priest in a small Irish t

posted 11:19:17pm Sep. 17, 2014 | read full post »

Trailer: Effie Gray, Starring Dakota Fanning and Emma Thompson
Emma Thompson won an Oscar for her "Sense and Sensibility" screenplay. She wrote and stars in "Effie Gray," with Dakota Fanning, the real-life story of the Victorian art critic, John Ruskin (David Suchet), and his much-younger bride, Effie Gray. Tom Sturridge plays John Millais, the artist she mar

posted 3:30:30pm Sep. 17, 2014 | read full post »

New MacArthur Genius Award Winners Include Alison Bechdel and Joshua Oppenheimer
It is always a treat to see the worthy awardees of the MacArthur Foundation's "genius grants." The foundations awards are unique because you cannot apply for them and there are no restrictions on the use of the money given to the recipients. The awards committee reviews the work of people making ex

posted 9:53:29am Sep. 17, 2014 | read full post »

Happy Birthday US Constitution!
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FzAJyK0ovo8[/youtube] It was on September 17, 1789 that the US Constitution was approved. The Bill of Rights was not added until later, but let's celebrate that, too. How many can you name? This will help you remember them. [youtube]https://www.youtu

posted 8:00:21am Sep. 17, 2014 | read full post »

Trailer: Days and Nights With Katie Holmes and Allison Janney
Inspired by Chekhov's "The Seagull," this is the story of a weekend at a country house that includes a famous actress, her discontented son, and people who love the wrong people and are angry at each other -- sometimes at the same time. [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OEs6vXztmBM[/youtub

posted 8:00:41am Sep. 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.