Witness to History: The Real Life 'Butler'

Bill Hamilton shares personal story of serving half century in the White House.
2:04 | 08/18/13

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Transcript for Witness to History: The Real Life 'Butler'
Finally, with the new movie "the butler" leading the way this weekend, we meet someone that knows it well. A white house butler that began at 20, but who would take a stand behind those white house walls. Here's abc's reena ninan. You hear nothing. You see nothing. Reporter: In the new movie, "the butler," hollywood highlights the life of eugene allen. One of the men who serve the first family behind the scenes. It's a life bill hamilton can relate to. He was part of the same staff that inspired the film. They were like family. It was really a family affair. Reporter: He's been working here since he was just 20. Retiring at age 75 this past summer. Nixon resigned from the presidency, that was a hard time and I didn't think I would be there. When the president was assassination happened. And to get the first black president, I didn't think that would ever happen in my lifetime. Reporter: Hamilton has served every president from eisenhower to obama, working as the head storekeeper. What are some of the items that have been popular among presidents over the years? Clinton loved beef, and hamburgers and stuff. And I know 41 didn't like broccoli. Reporter: No broccoli. Broccoli could not be served at the white house. Reporter: One of hamilton's proudest moments came during one of the most painful period in american history. What was it like being a black man in the white house during the civil rights movement? Oh, it was very hard. They were promoting other people and weren't promoting blacks. Reporter: So hamilton gave the johnson white house an ultimatum, on behalf of the black butler staff. They wanted more pay, or they wouldn't work at a state dinner. We're not going to work the state dinner. This is the only way we're going to get a raise. Two days later we had our raise. Reporter: As one of the lead characters in "the butler," oprah winfrey was awed by their courage. The grace and nobility that it took to do that, to hold your head up every day. I just have a greater sense of pride for those men and that time. Reporter: A time hamilton says he'll never forget. Five decades of white house memories. Reena ninan, abc news, washington.

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