Oprah Winfrey as Gloria Gaines in “Lee Daniels’ The Butler”

*There’s the man who witnessed American history from the halls of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave…and then there was the woman by his side.

Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey play Cecil and Gloria Gaines in “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” a husband and wife based on real life White House butler Eugene Allen and his wife Helene. The film explores their evolving relationship through major racial events of the 20th century, including Brown v. Board of Education, the Little Rock Nine, the March on Washington, the burning of urban cities, the civil rights bills and the assassinations.

Oprah Winfrey and Forest Whitaker in a scene from “Lee Daniels’ The Butler”

In “The Butler: A Witness to History,” a book written by journalist Wil Haygood, (whose Washington Post profile of  Allen inspired the film), and published to accompany the picture, director Lee Daniels writes in the forward that his film “is set against historical events,” but “the title character and his family are fictionalized.”

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