Just after its initial opening at the State Historical Society of Iowa, The Working White House is in the news again. Yesterday we learned that one of the individuals highlighted in the exhibition will be the subject of a full-length movie produced by Columbia Pictures. Eugene Allen, who began his White House service as a pantryman, will be the subject of the upcoming film. Allen witnessed history-making events from a vantage point few understand. He started during the Eisenhower administration and maintained his position until 1986, officially retiring during Ronald Reagan's second term in office.
Allen also served as a maitre d' and butler, and of these jobs he admits, "I thought I knew how to serve. But the White House is different. Other places you can make mistakes, and you don’t feel so bad; but you don’t feel like making mistakes for the president and first lady . . . I had a good relationship with all the butlers. You know, it’s closer than your relatives, because you work so close together. You see them every day. You eat together, you work together. It’s every day."
The film will be, according to the recent Reuters' article, a "portrait of an extraordinary African American man who has lived to see the world turn. It's about the essence of this man and what he saw, as well as the love story with his wife," said the movie's producer Laura Ziskin. From the historic Brown v. Board of Education ruling to the untimely assassinations of Martin Luther King and John F. Kennedy, Allen has a unique personal perspective on the events that continue to shape our modern world.
Check out The Working White House video for in-depth interviews with White House staffers, past and present.