Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Here's Idris Elba's Response to Commentary That He's "Too Street" to Play James Bond Here's Idris Elba's Response to Commentary That He's "Too Street" to Play James Bond Carl Franklin Is Casting an Actor for His Tupac Bio (No Marcc Rose from 'Straight Outta Compton'?) Carl Franklin Is Casting an Actor for His Tupac Bio (No Marcc Rose from 'Straight Outta Compton'?) 'Dope' Is Heading Back to Theaters for a Second Run (Awards Season Contention, Perhaps?) 'Dope' Is Heading Back to Theaters for a Second Run (Awards Season Contention, Perhaps?) BET Launches Original Series “THE BET LIFE OF…” - Will Look at Musical Careers of Beyonce, Chris Brown, Janet Jackson, Nicki Minaj & Trey Songz BET Launches Original Series “THE BET LIFE OF…” - Will Look at Musical Careers of Beyonce, Chris Brown, Janet Jackson, Nicki Minaj & Trey Songz Trailer for Season 2 of 'Z Nation' (Kellita Smith Is Fierce on the Show!) Trailer for Season 2 of 'Z Nation' (Kellita Smith Is Fierce on the Show!) Will Smith Puts on His "Nigerian Accent" in First Trailer for NFL Drama 'Concussion' Will Smith Puts on His "Nigerian Accent" in First Trailer for NFL Drama 'Concussion' This "Faith-Based" Drama Is Giving 'Straight Outta Compton' a Run for Its Money This Weekend... This "Faith-Based" Drama Is Giving 'Straight Outta Compton' a Run for Its Money This Weekend... BET and TV One Will Go Head-to-Head Tonight With Original Movies Airing at the Exact Same Time BET and TV One Will Go Head-to-Head Tonight With Original Movies Airing at the Exact Same Time Lee Daniels' Richard Pryor Biopic Is Officially Ready to Go (Mike Epps, Eddie Murphy, Oprah Winfrey, Kate Hudson) Lee Daniels' Richard Pryor Biopic Is Officially Ready to Go (Mike Epps, Eddie Murphy, Oprah Winfrey, Kate Hudson) At Least 2 More Superhero Movies Are in Viola Davis' Future... At Least 2 More Superhero Movies Are in Viola Davis' Future... Watch 5 Clips from Regina King's Feature Directorial Debut 'Let The Church Say Amen' Starring Naturi Naughton Watch 5 Clips from Regina King's Feature Directorial Debut 'Let The Church Say Amen' Starring Naturi Naughton Righting a Past Wrong? Academy to Present Spike Lee with Honorary Oscar Righting a Past Wrong? Academy to Present Spike Lee with Honorary Oscar African-American Female Team Produce Indie Horror Film ‘The Dark Rite’ African-American Female Team Produce Indie Horror Film ‘The Dark Rite’ Viola Davis Says She Will Star in a Film Adaptation of 'Fences' Directed by Denzel Washington Viola Davis Says She Will Star in a Film Adaptation of 'Fences' Directed by Denzel Washington "This Is a Relationship" - Watch Michael Ealy Frighten Sanaa Lathan in Tense First Clip From 'The Perfect Guy' "This Is a Relationship" - Watch Michael Ealy Frighten Sanaa Lathan in Tense First Clip From 'The Perfect Guy' Vin Diesel Says He's Returning for a 'xXx' Threequel - Filming to Start in December Vin Diesel Says He's Returning for a 'xXx' Threequel - Filming to Start in December Updates on Steve McQueen's "Epic" Series Centered on a Black Community in London, Over 3 Decades Updates on Steve McQueen's "Epic" Series Centered on a Black Community in London, Over 3 Decades Why Was Janet Hubert (Aunt Viv) Really Replaced on 'Fresh Prince of Bel-Air'? Buzzfeed Investigates Why Was Janet Hubert (Aunt Viv) Really Replaced on 'Fresh Prince of Bel-Air'? Buzzfeed Investigates Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie... Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie...

Meet The Real Butler Who Inspired 'Lee Daniels' The Butler'

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act August 12, 2013 at 7:41PM

Despite my misgivings about the film that his life inspired (misgivings that have nothing to do with the real man himself, as I know him), if there's one very good thing that comes out of the release of Lee Daniels' The Butler, it's that it will likely generate public interest in the story of the real life butler, the late Eugene Allen - a story that apparently no one was interested in or intrigued by until journalist Wil Haygood, working on President Obama's 2008 presidential run, sought out stories from White House staff who had been employed there prior to the signing of the Civil Rights Act in the mid-1960s.
5
Eugene Allen
Eugene Allen

Despite my misgivings about the film that his life inspired (misgivings that have nothing to do with the real man himself, as I know him), if there's one very good thing that comes out of the release of Lee Daniels' The Butler, it's that it will likely generate public interest in the story of the real life butler, the late Eugene Allen - a story that apparently no one was interested in or intrigued by until journalist Wil Haygood, working on President Obama's 2008 presidential run, sought out stories from White House staff who had been employed there prior to the signing of the Civil Rights Act in the mid-1960s.

Up until that glorious moment, no one had ever taken an interest in Allen's story. And after that moment, no one else would get to hear Allen's story directly from Allen, because Haygood is the only journalist to have ever done so.

Allen died in 2010 at 90 years old - meaning he'll obviously never get to see the film that his life has inspired.

In the below video, Oprah Winfrey pays tribute (albeit a brief one) to Eugene Allen. 

What would be especially great (but likely impossible now, given that most of the players have moved on to the next life) is if a documentary on Allen's life were produced, to complement Daniels' film. Haygood has penned a book based on his interviews and time spent with Allen, so I suppose that's the next best thing:

This article is related to: Oprah Winfrey, Forest Whitaker, Lee Daniels


Shadow & ActNewsletter