Real-Life “The Butler”: The White House Employee who Served from Eisenhower through Obama


William Hamilton, the White House employee who served from Eisenhower through Obama
William Hamilton, the White House employee who served from Eisenhower through Obama

The president and administration changes every four to eight years, but behind the scenes at the White House, there is a staff of employees who serve the presidents and their families through the years, regardless of who wins the election.

Lee Daniels’ new movie, “The Butler,” shines a spotlight on the less-told story of these employees. And in this episode of “Top Line,” we sit down with one White House employee who has worked for every president since Dwight Eisenhower.

William Hamilton, who recently retired from his job procuring groceries and other personal items for the first family after 55 years—making him the longest serving White House staff member ever—says he’ll never forget his first day on the job.

“I went into the White House and my boss said, ‘Well, look, I want you to wait here.’ And this was in the Diplomatic Reception Room,” Hamilton says, not knowing at that time that the first family enters and exits through that room. But he soon learned when the White House’s chief usher came in and introduced himself to Hamilton.


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