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Backstairs at the White House

rogers robert lillian harry

(NBC, 1/29/1979 to 2/19/1979, 4 Parts, 9 hours). A loving version of the 1961 book by Lillian Rogers Parks, the crippled seamstress-maid, who, along with her mother, served for 52 years as a White House domestic during eight presidential administrations. A mixture of pop history of the 20th century and the private lives of the various First Families (as portrayed by a stellar cast) as seen through the eyes of the various maids and butlers, played by many of the same actors who had appeared in and “died” in the initial “Roots” and thus were not available for the sequel to that miniseries that, in a programming “coincidence,” premiered in part against “Backstairs at the White House.” There were 11 Emmy Award nominations for the film: Outstanding Limited Series, Best Actress (Olivia Cole), Best Actor (Louis Gossett Jr.), Best Supporting Actress (both Eileen Heckart and Celeste Holm), Best Supporting Actor (both Ed Flanders and Robert Vaughn), Outstanding Teleplay (Part 1), Outstanding Teleplay (Part 1), Outstanding Art Direction/Set Decoration (Part 1), and two other technical awards. These made “Backstairs at the White House” the single most honored program of the 1978-79 TV season.

Production Company Ed Friendly Productions. Director Michael O’Herlihy. Executive Producer Ed Friendly. Producer Michael O’Herlihy. Teleplay Gwen Bagni-Dubov, Paul Dubov. Based on a Book by Lillian Rogers Parks, Frances Spatz Leighton. Photography Robert L Morrison. Music Morton Stevens. Editors Paul LaMastra, Roy E Peterson. Art Director Richard Y Haman. Associate Producer Robert Enrietto.

Cast Olivia Cole (Maggie Rogers), Leslie Uggams (Lillian Rogers Parks), Louis Gossett Jr. (Levi Mercer), Robert Hooks (John Mays), Leslie Nielsen (Ike Hoover), Cloris Leachman (Mrs. Jaffray), Paul Winfield (Emmett Rogers Sr.), Julie Harris (Helen “Nellie” Taft), Victor Buono (William Howard Taft), Robert Vaughn (Woodrow Wilson), Kim Hunter (Ellen Wilson), Claire Bloom (Edith Galt Wilson), Celeste Holm (Florence Harding), George Kennedy (Warren G. Harding), Ed Flanders (Calvin Coolidge), Lee Grant (Grace Coolidge), Larry Gates (Herbert Hoover), Jan Sterling (Lou Hoover), Eileen Heckart (Eleanor Roosevelt), John Anderson (Franklin Delano Roosevelt), Harry Morgan (Harry S Truman), Estelle Parsons (Bess Truman), Barbara Barrie (Mamie Eisenhower), Andrew Duggan (Dwight Eisenhower), Kevin Hooks (Young Emmett), Tania Johnson (Young Lillian), Hari Rhodes (Coates), Bill Overton (Jackson), Helena Carroll (Annie Gilhooley), David Downing (Dixon), James A. Watson Jr. (Frazer), Dana Wynter (Mrs. Colgate), John Randolph (Mr. Johnson), Barry Sullivan (Harry Dougherty), Ford Rainey (Navy Secretary), Diane Shalet (Mrs. Long), Kathleen Doyle (Bridgit), Harrison Page (Wheatley Parks), Tom Clancy (Alexander Woollcott), Woodrow Parfrey (Louise Howe), Richard Roat (Krim), Louise Latham (Miss Mesbitt), James Crittenden (Roy Clayton), Bibi Besch (Miss Lahan), Marged Wakeley (Mrs. Walker), Nancy Morgan (Margaret Truman), Ann Doran (Miss Clare), Heather Angel (Mrs. Wallace), Noble Willingham (Charles Kramer), Harry Townes (Judge Jesse Smith), Anna Mathias (Maureen), Brendan Dillon, Joe Lowry, Emmaline Henry, Tom Scott, Dan Mason, Frank McCarthy, Lee Kessler, Carson Sipes, Bill Barrett, Ron Recasner, Bill Quinn, Stymie Beard, Gerry Black, Bebe Drake-Hooks, Guy Christopher, Betty A. Bridges, Ron Kelly, Henry G. Sanders, Marilyn Chris.

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