I wasn’t aware that this documentary featuring Eugene Allen, whose life Lee Daniels’ The Butler is based on, existed.
Courtesy of Smithsonian magazine, in 1994, Smithsonian Folkways released a documentary titled Workers At The White House, which included interviews with White House staff, including, of course, Eugene Allen.
The film was directed by Dr. Marjorie Hunt, curator for the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, and was produced in conjunction with the Folklife Festival.
If you’d like to purchase the documentary, you can find it on the Smithsonian Folkways DVD titled White House Workers: Traditions and Memories. Click HERE to buy. It’s $15 a copy.
I’m surprised that they aren’t fully exploiting the release of Lee Daniels’ film and re-releasing their documentary, maybe on blu-ray, or even VOD, with a new campaign, touting it as must-see footage of the real butler, and charging $30 for it!
Below you’ll find 3 clips from the documentary, featuring Eugene Allen talking about his career, as well as recalling moments with Presidents Carter and Reagan.