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Backstairs at the White House 

0:54 | Trailer
Behind the scenes at the White House during eight administrations, as told by the people who work there.


Gwen Bagni, Paul Dubov




Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 3 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »





Series cast summary:
Olivia Cole ...  Maggie Rogers 4 episodes, 1979
Leslie Uggams ...  Lillian Rogers / ... 4 episodes, 1979
Louis Gossett Jr. ...  Houseman Levi Mercer 4 episodes, 1979
Robert Hooks ...  Doorman and Presidential Barber John Mays / ... 4 episodes, 1979
Bill Overton Bill Overton ...  Doorman Jackson 4 episodes, 1979
David Downing ...  Butler Dixon 4 episodes, 1979
Celeste Holm ...  Mrs. Florence Harding 4 episodes, 1979
Lee Grant ...  Mrs. Grace Coolidge 4 episodes, 1979
Larry Gates ...  President Herbert Hoover 4 episodes, 1979
Jan Sterling ...  Mrs. Lou Hoover 4 episodes, 1979
Eileen Heckart ...  Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt 4 episodes, 1979
John Anderson ...  President Franklin Delano Roosevelt 4 episodes, 1979
Harry Morgan ...  President Harry S. Truman 4 episodes, 1979
Estelle Parsons ...  Mrs. Bess Truman 4 episodes, 1979
Barbara Barrie ...  Mrs. Mamie Eisenhower 4 episodes, 1979
Andrew Duggan ...  President Dwight D. Eisenhower 4 episodes, 1979
Leslie Nielsen ...  Ike Hoover / ... 4 episodes, 1979
Hari Rhodes ...  Butler Coates 3 episodes, 1979
Ed Flanders ...  President Calvin Coolidge 4 episodes, 1979
George Kennedy ...  President Warren G. Harding 4 episodes, 1979
Tom Scott Tom Scott ...  Roach 3 episodes, 1979
Kathleen Doyle ...  Moira 3 episodes, 1979
Kevin Hooks ...  Emmett Rogers Jr. / ... 3 episodes, 1979
Helena Carroll Helena Carroll ...  First Maid Annie Gilhooley 2 episodes, 1979
Louise Latham ...  Housekeeper Nesbitt 2 episodes, 1979
Richard Roat ...  Chief Usher Crim 2 episodes, 1979
James A. Watson Jr. ...  Houseman Fraser 2 episodes, 1979
Cloris Leachman ...  Mrs. Jaffray 2 episodes, 1979
Victor Buono ...  President William Howard Taft 4 episodes, 1979
Kim Hunter ...  Mrs. Ellen Wilson 4 episodes, 1979
Claire Bloom ...  Mrs. Edith Galt Wilson 4 episodes, 1979
Diane Shalet Diane Shalet ...  Housekeeper Long / ... 2 episodes, 1979
John Randolph ...  Sen. Fall 2 episodes, 1979
Gerry Black Gerry Black ...  Prettyman 2 episodes, 1979
Bebe Drake ...  Sevilla 2 episodes, 1979
Lee Kessler Lee Kessler ...  Secretary 2 episodes, 1979
Marged Wakeley Marged Wakeley ...  Housekeeper Walker 1 episode, 1979
Paul Winfield ...  Emmett Rogers Sr 1 episode, 1979
Julie Harris ...  Mrs. Helen 'Nellie' Taft 4 episodes, 1979
Barry Sullivan ...  Attorney General Harry Daugherty 1 episode, 1979
Robert Vaughn ...  President Woodrow Wilson 4 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 <mmckee@soltec.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


What Happens at the White House You'll Never Find in a History Book See more »


Drama | History


Did You Know?


Andrew Duggan played Dwight David Eisenhower in J. Edgar Hoover (1987). See more »

User Reviews

Finally available on DVD!
2 February 2006 | by lahollySee 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!

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Release Date:

29 January 1979 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Backstairs at the White House See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


(4 episodes)

Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

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