Allen’s story spread across the country and he received a VIP invitation to President-Elect Obama’s inauguration. Seeing him standing there, it's been worth it all. He visited former President Eisenhower at his home in Gettysburg after his administration.11 After the assassination of President Kennedy, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy presented Allen with one of the president’s ties. It’s not clear whether Allen actually met President Obama, but he did attend his swearing-in ceremony, with a VIP invitation, no less. For the president, you changed your appointments.”15, President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush mailed a letter of condolence after Allen’s wife Helene passed away on the eve of the election of President Barack Obama.16. Eugene Allen, the real-life White House butler that inspired the hit film, "The Butler," was happy to see President Barack Obama elected as the nation's first black president, his son said. Wil Haygood, “A Butler Well Served By This Election,” Washington Post. Eugene and Helene both supported Barack Obama, but Helene died the day before Obama won the 2008 presidential election. A figure in the tiniest of print. Eugene Allen attends birthday party for John F. Kennedy Jr. and Caroline Kennedy in 1962. Kevin Clark / The Washington Post / Getty Images. When Allen retired in 1986, he had served the White House as a pantry man, butler, and maître d’.14 During his retirement, first families remained in contact with Allen and his family. Eugene Allen served in the White House for 34 years. Bill Hamilton shares personal story of serving half century in the White House. He was 90. Then in 1957, his best friend, Eugene Allen, who worked as a White House butler, asked whether he would like a job there. "White House butler Eugene Allen's humility recalled at funeral", Washington Post, April 9, 2010. Eugene Allen, who endured a harsh and segregated upbringing in his native Virginia and went on to work for eight presidents as a White House butler, died March 31 of renal failure at Washington Adventist Hospital in … Before the election, Helene marveled at the idea of a black man in the Oval Office. Wil Haygood, The Butler: A Witness to History. As a butler, he served eight presidents, a discreet stage hand who for three decades helped keep the show running in the most important political theatre of all. Even though Allen was not searching for new employment, he accepted a job as a pantry man. Allen was born in 1919 on a plantation farm near Scottsville in central Virginia.1 During his youth, he worked as a waiter at a resort in Virginia and at a country club in Washington, D.C.2 He met his wife Helene at a party in 1942 and they married soon after. You can learn more here: http://time.com/2219/what-the-butler-really-saw/. Eugene Allen served eight U.S. presidents during his 34 years working in the White House. Gene woke and nudged her once, then again. Eugene Allen represented, as journalist Wil Haygood wrote, “a story from the back pages of history. (The movie was loosely inspired by real-life White House butler Eugene Allen.) Allen and his wife Helene, who passed away before the 2008 election, prayed for Obama to win. Allen observed social changes that would not only transform race relations across the country, but also inside the White House. “I woke up and my wife didn’t,” he said later. Allen passed away on March 31, 2010, in Washington, D.C., at the age of 90. Allen watched as President Dwight Eisenhower argued with Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus over the Little Rock School desegregation in 1957.5 Allen noted that when President John F. Kennedy hosted events at the White House, more African American guests attended than ever before.6 When Kennedy was assassinated, Allen stayed behind at the White House to assist in serving those that would be returning to the building after the funeral service.7 Allen stood by President Lyndon B. Johnson as he evaluated how to handle the Vietnam War, helping him to sleep by serving the president milk and Scotch.8 Realizing the professionalism of working at the White House, Allen never uttered a word about the war, even with his son fighting overseas. Allen was the first White House butler ever to be invited as a guest to a state dinner. Eugene Allen with Ronald and Nancy Reagan. [7], The story had an immediate impact. This made him privy to private conversations and debates regarding African American rights. Allen cherished this memento by having it framed and hung in his home.12 Allen and his wife received many photos, letters and Christmas cards throughout the years from both former and current presidents. President Ford shaking hands with Eugene Allen before his final departure at the White House on January 20, 1977. DC3. Allen received a VIP invitation to Obama’s inauguration with a Marine guard escort. Eugene Allen serves First Lady Nancy Reagan and guests at a gathering in the Red Room. Eugene Allen represented, as journalist Wil Haygood wrote, “ … Thousands of Images covering the History of the White House, Official White House Ornaments, Books & More, witness some of the most pivotal movements. The man in the kitchen.” Born on July 14 1919 at … He was 90 and lived in Washington. Allen died of renal failure Wednesday at a … He served eight presidents of the United States. Eugene Allen, who endured a harsh and segregated upbringing in his native Virginia and went on to work for eight presidents as a White House butler, died Wednesday of renal failure at Washington Adventist Hospital in suburban Takoma Park, Md. WASHINGTON (AP) — Eugene Allen, a White House butler who served presidents from Harry Truman through Ronald Reagan, died Wednesday in Takoma Park, Md. But in the hallway, he fell against the wall and started crying. According to his son, "My father came home late on the day that President Kennedy had been shot. [3], Allen was born in Buckingham County, Virginia and raised on Shirland Farm near Scottsville. That was the first time in my life I had ever seen my father cry. [7] Reagan invited Allen and his wife Helene to a state dinner in honor of Helmut Kohl at the White House. [11] The film departs from the facts of Allen's life. The central character, "Cecil Gaines", is only loosely based on the real Allen. Eugene Allen experienced crucial moments in American history during his time at the White House. Longtime White House Butler Served For 34 Years Under 8 Presidents, From Truman to Reagan. February 9, 2017, Next He worked as a waiter for many years, in "whites-only resorts and country clubs", including The Homestead resort in Hot Springs, Virginia, and a club in Washington. Just a couple of miles from the White House, in a rundown neighbourhood off Georgia Avenue, lives a … Allen's life was the inspiration for the 2013 film The Butler. He started in the White House in 1952 as a "pantry man", a job which involved basic tasks such as dish washing, stocking and cleaning silverware. Eugene Charles Allen - Scottsville Museum, "Eugene Allen, White House butler for 8 presidents, dies at 90", "Eugene Allen: White House butler who worked for eight US presidents", "The True Story of The Butler: Fact vs. Fiction in Lee Daniels' The Butler", "White House Workers: Traditions and Memories", "No, President Obama isn't doing a cameo in 'The Butler, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Eugene_Allen&oldid=999142687, Wikipedia articles with PLWABN identifiers, Wikipedia articles with SUDOC identifiers, Wikipedia articles with WORLDCATID identifiers, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 8 January 2021, at 18:12. Over the years Allen rose in his position, becoming the butler to the president. Allen was married to his wife, Helene, for 65 years. On January 20, 2009, Allen attended Obama's inauguration with … Animals -- whether pampered household pets, working livestock, birds, squirrels, or strays -- have long been a major part of... White House staff who lived at the President’s House during the nineteenth century, including enslaved and free African Americans, us... What is it like to live at the White House? They’d go vote together. Public History Fellow. He shuffled around to her side of the bed. In fact, he was working as a waiter at a country club in Washington, D.C. when he heard about the potential position in the White House. First Lady Hillary Clinton honored Allen, alongside many other long-term White House workers, at a 1995 event at the White House. The White House Historical Association, chartered in 1961, is a nonprofit historical and educational organization that plays a vital role in... Construction on the President’s House began in 1792. Eugene Allen (Scottsville, 14 de julho de 1919 — Takoma Park, 31 de março de 2010) [1] foi um garçom e mordomo americano que trabalhou para o governo dos EUA na Casa Branca por 34 anos até se aposentar como mordomo em 1986.. A vida de Allen foi a inspiração para o filme de 2013 The Butler. He attended the ceremony with his son, Charles, and Haygood. Eugene Allen's was one of them. But then he got up and put his coat back on. In 1957, his best friend, Eugene Allen, who worked as a White House butler, asked whether he would like a job there. This article was originally published [6] He retired in 1986. But he volunteered … When Allen accepted this position at the White House, he did not expect to witness some of the most pivotal movements of the twentieth century. Allen died March 31, 2010. Eugene Allen at President Obama's inauguration on January 20, 2009 as a VIP guest. What are some interesting facts about presidents and first ladies? [2 [1] He worked as a waiter for many years, in "whites-only resorts and country clubs", including The Homestead resort in Hot Springs, Virginia, and a club in Washington.[4]. Allen received a … Making Connections in the President's Neighborhood, Pulling Back the Curtain on the Executive Mansion, Bethany Nagle He first worked as a waiter at a Virginia resort and later, in Washington, D.C., during the Great Depression, he found a job at a country club. Eugene Allen is pictured to the right of this image at a reception hosted by President Kennedy for PT Boat Veterans in 1962. Hamil R. Harris, “First Lady Honors White House Workers: School Event Teaches Children of Devotion,” Washington Post. A former White House butler who served 11 presidents has died at 91 after contracting the coronavirus, his granddaughter confirmed to NBC News on Thursday. Clarence Lusane, The Black History of the White House (San Francisco: Open Media Series, 2011, 270. [3] Danny Strong's screenplay was inspired by the 2008 Washington Post article. Allen was born in Buckingham County, Virginia and raised on Shirland Farm near Scottsville. It placed Allen's life in the context of changing race relations and the personalities of the presidents he'd served. Assisting eight presidents, Allen’s top priority was to make the White House a comfortable residence for each chief executive and his family. A few days after Barack Obama was elected president in 2008, the Washington Post published an article about a black butler who served in the White House for 34 years, under eight presidents, from Truman to Reagan. She’d lean on her cane with one hand, and on him with the other, while walking down to the precinct. Eugene Allen’s life is the focus of the 2013 film The Butler, directed by Lee Daniels, and starring Forest Whitaker as the title character and Oprah Winfrey as his wife. Although he lived to see Barack Obama achieve the highest office, as a boy Eugene Allen knew the infamy of segregation. It didn’t matter what you had planned or what came up in your family. Allen's life was the inspiration for the 2013 film The Butler. They had one child—a son, named Charles.3 Allen first heard about a job opening at the White House in 1952 and decided to meet with Alonzo Fields, who served as White House maître d’.4. Several hundred people packed a funeral service Thursday at Greater First Baptist Church on 13th Street NW to celebrate Allen's life and the national narrative he embodied. He was all alone. He began working at the White House in 1952. They met at a birthday party in Washington in 1942, and married a year later in 1943. Wil Haygood, “Eugene Allen, White House butler for 8 presidents, dies at 90,” Washington Post. The couple had one son, Charles Allen. Eugene Allen’s 2010 obituary He was in the White House kitchen the day JFK was slain. Allen discussed the importance of his job, saying, “It never snowed too deep or rained too hard for you not to go to work every day. The movie, “The Butler,” was inspired by Allen’s story. The couple had been married 65 years. He nudged Helene again. The Historic Stephen Decatur House. 7. PHOTOS: President Obama's A-list pals ... And Oprah, my girl, she can act," President Obama … African Americans in the White House Timeline, White House Historical Association. Eugene Allen was born on a Virginia plantation in 1919 and spent much of his early life working as a waiter at various whites-only establishments in the South. He was 90. Wil Haygood, “Eugene Allen, White House butler for 8 presidents, dies at 90,” Washington Post. He was later invited to the inauguration, which he attended with his son Charles, his daughter-in-law Ortaciana and author Wil Haygood on January 20, 2009. Allen’s story came to public attention when an article about him and his wife by journalist Wil Haygood, entitled “A Butler Well Served by This Election” was published by the Washington Post after the 2008 presidential election. A figure in the tiniest of print. Despite the loss of his wife the day prior, Eugene went and placed his vote the following day. He attended the ceremony with his son, Charles, and Haygood. "[4] Allen never missed a day of work in 34 years.[6]. New York: Atria Books, 2013. Eugene and Helen Allen were married for 65 wonderful years before Helene passed away on November 3, 2008, on the eve of the 2008 historic election of Barack Obama as U.S. President. He worked for the White House for 34 years until he retired in 1986. Eugene Allen (July 14, 1919 – March 31, 2010)[2] was an American waiter and butler who worked for the US government at the White House for 34 years until he retired as the head butler in 1986. "[5] He was invited to the funeral, but chose to stay at work to prepare for the reception, because "Someone had to be at the White House to serve everyone after they came from the funeral. Friday April 2, 2010. Eugene Allen was born in 1919 in the town of Scottsville on a Virginia plantation and grew up during the horrific time of Southern segregation. Charles would go on to fight in the Vietnam War. Allen reflected on one of his favorite memories, where First Lady Betty Ford stated at President Ford’s birthday party, “It’s Gene’s birthday too!”10, Allen dutifully served in the White House while also sharing personal bonds with several of the presidents and their families. [8] He and his wife had intended to vote for Barack Obama in 2008, but she died the day before the election, on November 3. Allen came to public attention when a 2008 article about him and his wife, by journalist Wil Haygood, entitled "A Butler Well Served by This Election", was published in The Washington Post shortly after the 2008 presidential election. Allen finally attained the most prestigious rank of butlers serving in the White House, Maître d'hôtel, in 1981, during the presidency of Ronald Reagan. Friday April 2, 2010. He said, 'I've got to go back to work.' "[4], Allen and other workers who served presidents were featured in a 32-minute documentary, Workers at the White House, directed by Marjorie Hunt and released on a 2009 DVD, White House Workers: Traditions and Memories by Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.[10]. In 1816, Commodore Stephen Decatur, Jr. and his wife Susan moved to the nascent capital city of Washington, D.C. With... First Lady Lou Hoover's invitation to Jessie L. DePriest to a White House tea party in 1929 created a storm of... For more than two centuries, the White House has been the home of American presidents. February 16, 1995. Lee Daniels' upcoming film The Butler was inspired by the life of Eugene Allen, who worked in the White House as a pantry worker, butler, and later maître d’ for eight Presidents from the Truman to Reagan administrations. He washed dishes, stocked cabinets and shined silverware. Eugene Allen (July 14, 1919 – March 31, 2010) was an American waiter and butler. Eugene Allen, a White House butler who served presidents from Harry S. Truman through Ronald Reagan, has died. Allen was particularly affected by the murder of President Kennedy in 1963. Toward the end of Allen’s career working as a butler at the White House, First Lady Nancy Reagan invited Allen and his wife to attend a State Dinner, as guests, in honor of West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl in October 1986.13. [9], Allen died of kidney failure at the Washington Adventist Hospital in Takoma Park, Maryland on March 31, 2010.[2]. At first, he though nothing of it, recalling, “I wasn’t even looking for a job, I was happy where I was working.” However, after meeting with th… As a butler, Allen frequently served the president and his guests. Allen’s life story was published in the Washington Post by journalist Wil Haygood soon after President Obama’s historic election in 2008.17 Allen’s story spread across the country and he received a VIP invitation to President-Elect Obama’s inauguration. Columbia is bringing the story of Eugene Allen, a black man who served as a White House butler for 34 years, to the big screen. He got a personal invitation to the funeral. Jimmy Carter and wife Rosalynn share a sweet New Year's kiss The only time Allen spoke regarding the Vietnam War was when President Johnson asked him if his son was still alive.9, President Gerald R. Ford and Allen also shared their birthday, July 14. November 7, 2008. Eugene Allen was invited to President Barack Obama’s inauguration on January 21, 2009. In the end, Eugene Allen, a White House butler who lived a life behind the scenes of history, was the subject of wide acclaim. It ended with the story of how the couple intended to vote for Obama together but Helene died just before the election, They talked about praying to help Barack Obama get to the White House. Columbia Pictures bought the film rights to Allen's life story, and he was invited to Obama's inauguration, where he commented, "That's the man...Whew, I'm telling you, it's something to see. And she’d get supper going afterward...On Monday Helene had a doctor’s appointment. First Lady Betty Ford and President Ford often included Allen in the birthday celebrations. After Wil Haygood’s article was published in the Washington Post it received national attention. The special times he shared with the presidents and their families reveal the daily life at the White House amidst these historic chapters of the United States.18. How many weddings have been held at the White House? EUGENE ALLEN DIED IN MARCH 2010, AT THE AGE OF 90. 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