If you're interested in learning the facts from the fiction, here's an excerpt from Douglas Cobb's article Fact and Fiction in Lee Daniels's The Butler, which appeared in the August 17, 2013 issue of The Las Vegas Guardian Express. Click the link for the full story.
Allen arrived in Washington, DC, during the Great Depression. The conflict that happens in the movie between Gaines’s parents and the white farmers for whom they work was added for dramatic effect — it didn’t actually happen...
The actual Allen met his wife, Helene, in Washington at a birthday party. Gaines, on the other hand, meets his wife, Gloria, at a Washington hotel where they both work previous to Gaines landing his job at the White House.
|Forest Whitaker as The Butler Cecil Gaines|
Also, Allen did not begin working as a butler from Day One at the White House; rather, he started off as a pantry worker and was later promoted to the job of the butler.
Cecil Gaines, in the movie, gets his job as the White House butler after first serving as an administrator of the White House in a hotel restaurant.
One of the many instances where the facts of what happened in Allen’s life are accurately depicted in the movie is both the real and movie butlers receives a tie of President John F. Kennedy from Jacqueline Kennedy after JFK’s assassination.
|Eugene Allen, The "Real" Butler|
Both Allen an Gaines get invited to Kennedy’s funeral, but both volunteer, instead, to stay behind a the White House, reasoning that someone had to serve the attendees as they returned from the funeral.
One place where there’s a major difference in the film’s depiction is that Charles Allen, Eugene’s son, was not the Black Panther and political activist that Gaines’s son is in the movie. Also, Charles never ran for a political office, whereas Gaines’s son does.
Though there was some tension between Allen and his son over certain civil rights issues, in real life Charles Allen worked as an investigator for the State Department and never ran for public office.
The movie’s Gaines, as well as the actual White House butler, Allen, were invited by President Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan to a state dinner at the White House.The state dinner was for the West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl.
Also, both Allen and Gaines are supporters of Obama when he runs for the office during the 2008 presidential election. Allen and his wife had been married 65 years at the time. He was given a VIP invitation to President Obama’s inauguration, according to the article in Times, and he cried as he watched the ceremony.
Adding more drama always makes a true story more exciting! Have you seen Lee Daniels' The Butler yet? If so, what did you think?
Thanks for visiting and have a great week!
By the way, if you like the time period depicted in Lee Daniels' The Butler, try The Governor's Sons--historical fiction with lots romance and suspense. Please excuse my shameless self-promotion!