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September 1, 2013 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham Notables: Eugene Allen

The Butler (1)Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey in Lee Daniels’ The Butler

Eugene Allen, the man who inspired the new movie, Lee Daniels’ The Butler, had an extraordinary life that began in the early 20th century in Buckingham County.  Later, by way of Scottsville (where he was living in 1930), he made his way to Washington D.C. to become butler to eight American Presidents.

While the film portrays its hero, Cecil Gaines, growing up on a cotton farm, the 1920 census reveals the six-month-old Eugene Allen living in Buckingham’s Slate River District, with his extended family, comprising three households of Allens and Browns.

Journalist Wil Haygood discovered Eugene Allen’s story and wrote, “Mr. Allen was born July 14, 1919, in Scottsville, Va.” Haygood’s profile of Eugene Allen was published in The Washington Post (2 April 2010): “Eugene Allen, White House butler for 8 presidents, dies at 90”

Last month, the star-studded film, Lee Daniel’s The Butler, opened in theaters across the country. Click here to watch the movie’s trailer: The Butler.

For more about Wil Haygood’s journalistic journey and his dedication to Eugene Allen’s story, click here: “The Storyteller”


Leave a Comment
  1. Fran Harris-Hill / Sep 1 2013 12:48 pm

    I saw THE BUTLER and was somewhat disappointed. I like Forest Whitaker but I thought the movie jumped from one President to the next and thought the actors picked for the Presidents seemed like bad charicatures. There were some riveting scenes in Mississippi but all I had seen on the news. I had received several emails asking to please not see the movie because it included Jane Fonda, who played Nancy Reagan, due to her role in the Vietnam War many, many years ago. Honestly, I don’t remember her on the screen except for perhaps about five minutes. I’m not sure what I expected but I think I would have enjoyed seeing the life of Eugene Allen instead of the bits and pieces each President played in it.

    • Joanne Yeck / Sep 1 2013 1:54 pm

      Fran, Thanks. I, too, would be more interested in the life of Eugene Allen.

  2. onestitchatatime / Sep 1 2013 11:38 am

    Have you seen The Butler yet, Joanne? If so, what did you think of it?

    • Joanne Yeck / Sep 1 2013 11:39 am

      I have not seen it yet.

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