Backstairs at the White House (1979)

TV Mini-Series  -   -  Drama | History
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 325 users  
Reviews: 28 user | 2 critic

Behind the scenes at the White House during eight administrations, as told by the people who work there.

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Title: Backstairs at the White House (1979– )

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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 2 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »


Series cast summary:
 Maggie Rogers (4 episodes, 1979)
 Lillian Rogers Parks (4 episodes, 1979)
 Houseman Levi Mercer (4 episodes, 1979)
 Doorman and Presidential Barber John Mays / ... (4 episodes, 1979)
Bill Overton ...
 Doorman Jackson (4 episodes, 1979)
 Butler Dixon (4 episodes, 1979)
 Mrs. Helen 'Nellie' Taft (4 episodes, 1979)
 President William Howard Taft (4 episodes, 1979)
 President Woodrow Wilson (4 episodes, 1979)
 Mrs. Ellen Wilson (4 episodes, 1979)
 Mrs. Edith Galt Wilson (4 episodes, 1979)
 Mrs. Florence Harding (4 episodes, 1979)
 President Warren G. Harding (4 episodes, 1979)
Ed Flanders ...
 President Calvin Coolidge (4 episodes, 1979)
 Mrs. Grace Coolidge (4 episodes, 1979)
Larry Gates ...
 President Herbert Hoover (4 episodes, 1979)
 Mrs. Lou Hoover (4 episodes, 1979)
 Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt (4 episodes, 1979)
 President Harry S. Truman (4 episodes, 1979)
 Mrs. Bess Truman (4 episodes, 1979)
 Mrs. Mamie Eisenhower (4 episodes, 1979)
 President Dwight D. Eisenhower (4 episodes, 1979)
 Ike Hoover / ... (4 episodes, 1979)
Hari Rhodes ...
 Butler Coates (3 episodes, 1979)
 Moira (3 episodes, 1979)
 Emmett Rogers Jr. / ... (3 episodes, 1979)
Tom Scott ...
 Roach (3 episodes, 1979)
 Mrs. Jaffray (2 episodes, 1979)
Helena Carroll ...
 First Maid Annie / ... (2 episodes, 1979)
Richard Roat ...
 Chief Usher Crim (2 episodes, 1979)
 Houseman Fraser (2 episodes, 1979)
Diane Shalet ...
 Housekeeper Long / ... (2 episodes, 1979)
Louise Latham ...
 Housekeeper Nesbitt (2 episodes, 1979)
Gerry Black ...
 Prettyman (2 episodes, 1979)
Bebe Drake ...
 Sevilla (2 episodes, 1979)
Lee Kessler ...
 Presidential Secretary / ... (2 episodes, 1979)
 Sen. Fall (2 episodes, 1979)


No fewer than eight Presidential administrations--from Taft through Eisenhower--are examined through the eyes of the White House staff--maids, assistants, servants, doormen and other "menial" workers. The main character is Lillian Rogers Parks, a maid at the White House for three decades and the author of the non-fiction book upon which this miniseries is based. Written by Marty McKee <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | History





Release Date:

29 January 1979 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Backstairs at the White House  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(4 episodes)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Olivia Cole, who played the role of Maggie Rogers, is less than a year older than Leslie Uggams, who played the role of her adult daughter, Lillian Rogers Parks. In 'Roots' (1976), Leslie Uggams played Oliva Cole's mother-in-law. See more »

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User Reviews

Finally available on DVD!
2 February 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I think I lost this the first time.

I am so delighted that this terrific mini series is finally available.

My mother gave the the book that it is based on many years ago. The mini is quite faithful to that book. (By the way),unless i am mistaken, Lillian Rogers Parks lived to be almost 100 years old, and was a consultant on the film.

This series has one of the best ensemble cast ever assembled. Leslie Uggams and Olivia Cole as Lillian and Maggie are superb, although Uggams may be too tall...Remember Lillian was crippled by polio at a very young age, and was less than 5 feet tall, but why quibble. Robert Hooks and Louis Gossett are great as Maggie and Lillian's friends, Mays and Mercer.

The Presidents and their first ladies represent the best from Television, film and Broadway. One of the best sequences in the film involves Calvin Coolidge(well played by Ed Flanders)taking on the head housekeeper, Mrs Jaffray( A wonderful Cloris Leachman.. shades of Frau Blucher!), when she attempts to tell everyone to stop tracking up "her" floor(They are trying to shore up the roof). President Coolidge says, "Mrs Jaffray, wouldn't you be happier in Buckingham Palace??

Julie Harris as Nellie Taft is splendid in this film,especially when Maggie and President Taft(A rotund Victor Buono) help her learn to speak after a stroke. Also effective are Celeste Holm and George Kennedy as the Hardings.(Can we say scandal). Estelle Parsons, Harry Morgan and Nancy Morgan are also in top form. Robert Vaughn and Claire Bloom are very effective as the Wilsons.

Because they come along late in the story, Andrew Duggand and Barbara Barrie seem to get short shrift as the Eisenhowers.

(In a recent episode of the Food Channel's White House, reference is made to serving hotdogs to the British Royal family. According to Lillian, this really did happen at is a humorous bit when she tells the visiting royalty's staff.... you just try one with all the fixin's.

An excellent history lesson very well played out by a brilliant cast!

6 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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