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Backstairs at the White House (1979)

Documentary/Drama/News

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Description

Part 1 William Howard Taft 1909-1913 Woodrow Wilson 1913-1921 Maggie Rogers (Olivia Cole) becomes a maid at the White House and is quickly consumed by the demands of the job. She is intimidated by the opulence and grandeur and by the demanding head housekeeper, Mrs. Jaffray (Cloris Leachman), who reminds Maggie that she is the first black woman to be allowed to serve in the family living quarters. Maggie cares for Mrs. Taft (Julie Harris) when the First Lady is felled by a stroke. She is moved by the grief of President Wilson (Robert Vaughn) at the death of his first wife (Kim Hunter) and by Wilson's own struggle to hold office after a stroke. Part 2 Warren G. Harding 1921-1923 Calvin Coolidge 1923-1929 Maggie ministers to the needs of the distraught Mrs. Harding (Celeste Holm) as gossip and scandal engulf the president (George Kennedy). The quiet dignity of President and Mrs. Coolidge (Ed Flanders and Lee Grant) is a welcome relief after the troubled Harding administration. Though Maggie urges her to reconsider, Lillian (Leslie Uggams) refuses to take a permanent job at the White House. Coolidge chooses not to run for a second term and is succeeded by the aloof Herbert Hoover (Larry Gates). As the Depression descends on the country, Lillian loses her job in a fashionable dress shop and reluctantly joins her mother at the White House. Part 3 Herbert Hoover 1929-1933 Franklin D. Roosevelt 1938-1945 As the Hoover administration comes to an end, Maggie collapses from exhaustion, but she refuses to follow doctor's orders to rest. The White House moves from gloom to gaiety as the vibrant and optimistic Franklin D. Roosevelt (John Anderson) and his wife, Eleanor (Eileen Heckart), settle in. FDR and Lillian, both victims of polio, establish a close bond. The friendly atmosphere encouraged by the Roosevelts is shattered by the attack on Pearl Harbor. As the U.S. enters World War II, the White House becomes a fortress with armed soldiers stationed throughout. Part 4 Harry S. Truman 1945-1953 Dwight D. Eisenhower 1953-1961 The frantic pace of the war years and frequent visits by world leaders take a toll on the White House servants. Now retired, Maggie is quick to respond when Mrs. Roosevelt asks her to return to help with a very special guest. While the creaking old White House undergoes renovation, Roosevelt's successor, Harry S. Truman (Harry Morgan), moves his family to Blair House. The move necessitates a staff reduction, and Lillian is dismissed after 20 years of service. Truman's surprise defeat of Thomas Dewey returns him to office and returns Lillian to presidential service. She goes on to serve at the White House through the two terms of Dwight D. Eisenhower (Andrew Duggan).

Where to Watch

Cast
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Olivia Cole

Maggie Rogers (4 episodes, 1979)
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Leslie Uggams

Lillian Rogers Parks (4 episodes, 1979)
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Louis Gossett Jr.

Houseman Levi Mercer (4 episodes, 1979)
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Robert Hooks

Doorman and Presidential Barber Mays / ... (4 episodes, 1979)
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Bill Overton

Doorman Jackson (4 episodes, 1979)
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David Downing

Butler Dixon (4 episodes, 1979)
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Celeste Holm

Mrs. Florence Harding (4 episodes, 1979)
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Lee Grant

Mrs. Grace Coolidge (4 episodes, 1979)
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Larry Gates

President Herbert Hoover (4 episodes, 1979)
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Jan Sterling

Mrs. Lou Hoover (4 episodes, 1979)
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Eileen Heckart

Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt (4 episodes, 1979)
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John Anderson

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (4 episodes, 1979)
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Harry Morgan

President Harry S. Truman (4 episodes, 1979)
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Estelle Parsons

Mrs. Bess Truman (4 episodes, 1979)
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Barbara Barrie

Mrs. Mamie Eisenhower (4 episodes, 1979)
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Andrew Duggan

President Dwight D. Eisenhower (4 episodes, 1979)
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Leslie Nielsen

Ike Hoover / ... (3 episodes, 1979)
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Hari Rhodes

Butler Coates (3 episodes, 1979)
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Claire Bloom

Mrs. Edith Galt Wilson (3 episodes, 1979)
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Ed Flanders

President Calvin Coolidge (3 episodes, 1979)
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George Kennedy

President Warren G. Harding (3 episodes, 1979)
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Kathleen Doyle

Moira (3 episodes, 1979)
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Kevin Hooks

Emmett Rogers Jr. / ... (3 episodes, 1979)
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Tom Scott

Roach (3 episodes, 1979)
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Cloris Leachman

Mrs. Jaffray (2 episodes, 1979)
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Helena Carroll

First Maid Annie / ... (2 episodes, 1979)
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Richard Roat

Chief Usher Crim (2 episodes, 1979)
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James A. Watson Jr.

Houseman Fraser (2 episodes, 1979)
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Victor Buono

President William Howard Taft (2 episodes, 1979)
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Kim Hunter

Mrs. Ellen Wilson (2 episodes, 1979)
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Diane Shalet

Housekeeper Long / ... (2 episodes, 1979)
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Louise Latham

Housekeeper Nesbitt (2 episodes, 1979)
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Gerry Black

Prettyman (2 episodes, 1979)
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Bebe Drake

Sevilla (2 episodes, 1979)
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Lee Kessler

Presidential Secretary / ... (2 episodes, 1979)
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John Randolph

Sen. Fall (2 episodes, 1979)
Crew
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Michael O'Herlihy

Director
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Gwen Bagni

Writer
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Paul Dubov

Writer
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Frances Spatz Leighton

Writer
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Lillian Rogers Parks

Writer
Disc Releases
Disc Title Front Cover

Backstairs at the White House

(DVD)

11/1/2005

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