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Backstairs At The White House (1979) On DVD

Regular Price: $59.99

Special Price $59.84

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Actor :     Olivia Cole, Leslie Uggams, Louis Gossett Jr., Robert Hooks, Bill Overton
Director:   Michael O'Herlihy
Genre:     Action/Adventure
Year:         1979
Studio:      Acorn Media
Length:     444
Released: November 1, 2005
Rating:       Not Rated (MPAA Rating)
Format:      DVD, Color
Misc:          NTSC
Language: English
subtitles: N/A


From the golden age of television miniseries comes this prestigious 1979 production based on Lillian Rogers Parks's memoir, My Thirty Years at the White House, a real-life AmericanUpstairs/Downstairs that chronicles her family's tenure on the White House servant staff through eight presidential administrations. Emmy nominee Oliva Cole stars as Maggie, a proud matriarch with "indomitable spirit and unfailing spunk," and who is determined that her children "are not going to have street ways." She becomes the first colored maid on the presidential family floor, beginning with the William Howard Taft administration. Her polio-stricken daughter, Lillian (portrayed as an adult by Leslie Uggams) eventually joins her during Herbert Hoover's administration and likewise rises through the ranks to to become a trusted confidante of the First Families.

Backstairs at the White House works on several levels. It is the inspiring personal story of two extraordinary women who had a unique and privileged perspective of the people and events that shaped the first half of the 20th century. It also presents vivid snapshots of the presidents and their families in all their quirks (Mrs. Taft felt that bearded servants brought bad luck), failings, and greatness, as well as such now-obscure personages as New York critic Alexander Woolcott. The stellar cast is comprised of stage and screen veterans and TV favorites. Robert Vaughn (as Woodrow Wilson), Celeste Holm (as Florence Harding), and Ed Flanders (as Calvin Coolidge) were nominated for Emmys, as was Roots costar Louis Gossett Jr. as houseman Levi Mercer. Also notable are a pre-Airplane Leslie Nielsen as chief White House usher Ike Hoover, Cloris Leachman as the chilly supervising housekeeper Mrs. Jaffray, Victor Buono and Julie Harris as reluctant president William Howard Taft and his more formidable wife "Nellie," Eileen Heckart as energetic Eleanor Roosevelt, and Harry Morgan, giving 'em hell as Harry Truman. Backstairs at the Whitecan be melodramatic ("You're not married to me, you're married to the White House," Lillian's estranged husband tells her at one point), but it never descends to soap opera. The Emmy-winning makeup is convincing, and the Emmy-nominated screenplay does an admirable job of compressing more than 50 years of history. "What is heard within the walls of the White House is to be forgotten," Maggie is instructed early in her employ. Luckily, daughter Lillian ignored this directive to create a compelling document that puts a human face on the occupants of the real West Wing. --Donald Liebenson

Product Description

The classic miniseries about two remarkable women and the eight First Families they served 
Their unrivaled behind-the-scenes access gives White House staff a uniquely personal view of history in the making. Two remarkable women in one family served as White House maids over a period spanning five decades and eight administrations—from Taft to Eisenhower. Their story and a half-century of American history unfold in this star-studded drama, nominated for 11 Emmy® Awards.

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