From 1952 to 1986, Eugene Allen was an enduring presence at the White House. Beginning his career as a "pantry man" and retiring as maitre d', Allen served eight presidents. He worked Monday through Saturday, and according to a 2008 profile in the Washington Post, he never missed a day. His story is now coming to the big screen in a film titled "The Butler," starring Forrest Whitaker and directed by Lee Daniels.
According to the Post's profile, Allen was born and raised in Virginia and worked in resorts and country clubs around the state until he responded to a job listing from the White House advertising for a "pantry man." He was to wash dishes, stock cabinets and shine silverware. Allen moved through the ranks, and was eventually promoted to maitre d'. He was a trusted employee and became the first butler to attend a state dinner as a guest, at the invitation of Nancy Reagan. He passed away in 2010.
After his retirement, Allen received many requests for TV interviews and book deals about his life in the White House. Ever respectful of his previous employers' privacy, he always declined.
"He liked to think of himself as just a humble butler," his only child, Charles, said to the source.
The film is set to premiere in late August and also stars Oprah Winfrey, Jane Fonda and Liev Schreiber. In a different article from the Washington Post, Daniels said that he hoped that the film portrays Allen well.
"I hope I honor this gentleman, this very, very beautiful man," the director said. "I want to honor him and everybody who's helped and served our country. Then I've done my job."
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