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Eddie Anderson

Eddie Anderson

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Also Known As: Eddie Anderson, Edmund L Anderson, Rochester, Eddie "Rochester" Anderson Died: February 28, 1977
Born: September 18, 1905 Cause of Death: congestive heart failure
Birth Place: Oakland, California, USA Profession: actor, chorus boy

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

This gravel-voiced African-American comic player from the vaudeville stage and nightclub revues is best remembered as Jack Benny's worried valet and straight man, 'Rochester' for 28 years on Benny's radio and later TV show (1950-65). Although he entered films in the late 1920s usually playing stereotyped servants, and appeared as Noah in "Green Pastures" (1936) and Uncle Peter in "Gone With the Wind" (1939), the rolling-eyed Anderson had his most notable film performance as the lead opposite Ethel Waters in Vincente Minnelli's all-black musical "Cabin in the Sky" (1943).

This gravel-voiced African-American comic player from the vaudeville stage and nightclub revues is best remembered as Jack Benny's worried valet and straight man, 'Rochester' for 28 years on Benny's radio and later TV show (1950-65). Although he entered films in the late 1920s usually playing stereotyped servants, and appeared as Noah in "Green Pastures" (1936) and Uncle Peter in "Gone With the Wind" (1939), the rolling-eyed Anderson had his most notable film performance as the lead opposite Ethel Waters in Vincente Minnelli's all-black musical "Cabin in the Sky" (1943).

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Entertaining the Troops (1989) Himself
2.
 It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963) 1st cab driver
3.
 The Show-Off (1946) Eddie
4.
 The Sailor Takes a Wife (1946) Harry
5.
 I Love a Bandleader (1945) Newton H. Newton
6.
 Brewster's Millions (1945) Jackson
7.
 Broadway Rhythm (1944) Eddie
8.
 Cabin in the Sky (1943) Little Joe Jackson
9.
10.
 What's Buzzin' Cousin? (1943) Rochester
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Reputedly his raspy voice was the result of a strain on his vocal chords suffered when he was a 12-year-old child hawking newspapers
:
Joined an all-black revue at age 14; eventually played the Roxy, Cotton Club and Apollo in Harlem and appeared in vaudeville
1927:
Film debut, "No Place to Go/Her Primitive Mate"
1930:
Performed in vaudeville as a song-and-dance team with his brother Cornelius (dates approximate)
1932:
First speaking part in films, "What Price Hollywood?"
1936:
Had first dramatic role in "Green Pastures"
1937:
Cast in bit role as a Pullman porter on Jack Benny's radio program; Benny hired him to play the valet Rochester Van Jones
1940:
Acted on screen with Benny in "Buck Benny Rides Again"
1943:
Played rare leading role in features in Vincente Minnelli's all-black cast musical, "Cabin in the Sky"
1945:
Film "Brewster's Millions" was banned in Memphis as "inimical to the friendly relations between the races" because it portrayed "too much social equality and racial mixture"
1946:
Retired from films
1950:
Toured Europe with Benny
1957:
Reprised role of Noah in TV adaptation of "Green Pastures"
1963:
Returned to films in "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad World"; final feature appearance
1972:
Attempted comeback with nightclub act in Houston which led to being cast in Broadway revival of "Good News"; forced to resign due to bad health
:
Had cataract operations in mid-1970s
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Notes

"From his first radio appearance on East Sunday in 1937 to the last of the television "specials" that followed the formal demise of Benny's television series in 1964, the surest laugh in show business was the one that renewed itself every time Mr. Anderson summoned a full measure of skepticism to his throat and punctured the ultimate poseur's latest pretension with a rasping, "What's that, boss?" --Robert McG. Thomas Jr. (From The New York Times Obituary, March 1, 1977)

"To most listeners, however, lost in 'reality' that characterized big-time radio, Rochester was not a character on a show, but an actual employee of an actual person, who after all, was playing himself.

"Mr. Benny added to the illusion by omitting Mr. Anderson's name from the cast, so that audiences would not think of him as an actor." --Robert Mc.G. Thomas Jr. (From The New York Times obituary, March 1, 1977)

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Mamie Anderson. Met when they both performed at the Cotton Club in L.A.; died in 1954.
wife:
Eva Anderson. Second wife; divorced.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Ed Anderson. Blackface minstrel.
mother:
Ella Mae Anderson. Former circus tightrope walker.
brother:
Cornelius Anderson. Performer. With Eddie, joined vaudeville team The Three Black Aces in 1919.
son:
Billy Anderson. Professional athlete. Adopted son; played baseball with the Chicago Cubs.
daughter:
Stephanie Anderson.
daughter:
Evangela Anderson.
son:
Edmond Anderson. Imprisoned on marijuana charges in the 1950s.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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