Based on the best-selling memoirs of Lillian Rogers Parks, the NBC miniseries Backstairs at the White House traces over five decades of American political history as witnessed from the vantage point of the servants' quarters. Played by Tania Johnson as a teenager and by Leslie Uggams as an adult, Lillian Rogers Parks served for 52 years as a maidservant at the White House. Though crippled early on with polio, Lillian diligently and loyally stuck to her duties -- and her own rock-solid set of principles and ideals -- through eight highly different Presidential administrations, often (and occasionally reluctantly) acting as friend and confidante to the First Lady of the moment. The large and stellar cast included a number of top-rank film and TV actors, obviously having the time of their lives impersonating such presidents as William Howard Taft, Woodrow Wilson, Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, and Dwight D. Eisenhower, and their respective wives. Also in the cast were several African-American veterans from the landmark TV miniseries Roots. Earning 11 Emmy Award nominations, the nine-hour Backstairs at the White House was seen in five installments from January 29 to February 19, 1979.
by Hal Erickson synopsis