Eddie Anderson


Actor
Eddie Anderson

About

Also Known As
Edmund L Anderson, Rochester, Eddie "Rochester" Anderson
Birth Place
Oakland, California, USA
Born
September 18, 1905
Died
February 28, 1977
Cause of Death
Congestive Heart Failure

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 W...

Family & Companions

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

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)

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).

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

Entertaining the Troops (1989)
Himself
It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963)
1st cab driver
The Show-Off (1946)
Eddie
The Sailor Takes a Wife (1946)
Harry
Brewster's Millions (1945)
Jackson
I Love a Bandleader (1945)
Newton H. Newton
Broadway Rhythm (1944)
Eddie
Star Spangled Rhythm (1943)
Himself, "Sharp as a Tack" number
Cabin in the Sky (1943)
Little Joe Jackson
The Meanest Man in the World (1943)
Shufro
What's Buzzin' Cousin? (1943)
Rochester
Tales of Manhattan (1942)
Rev. Lazarus
Topper Returns (1941)
Eddie, chauffeur
Kiss the Boys Goodbye (1941)
George
Birth of the Blues (1941)
Louey
Buck Benny Rides Again (1940)
Rochester
Love Thy Neighbor (1940)
Rochester
Gone With the Wind (1939)
Uncle Peter, her coachman
You Can't Cheat an Honest Man (1939)
Cheerful
Man About Town (1939)
Rochester
Honolulu (1939)
Washington
Kentucky (1938)
Groom
Jezebel (1938)
Gros Bat
You Can't Take It with You (1938)
Donald
Gold Diggers in Paris (1938)
Doorman
Going Places (1938)
Groom
Reckless Living (1938)
"Dreamboat"
Thanks for the Memory (1938)
Janitor
Five of a Kind (1938)
Attendant
Strange Faces (1938)
Exposed (1938)
William
When Love Is Young (1937)
Taxi driver
Reported Missing (1937)
Porter
On Such a Night (1937)
Henry Clay Washington
Bill Cracks Down (1937)
Snowflake
Melody for Two (1937)
Exodus Johnson
One Mile from Heaven (1937)
Henry Bangs
White Bondage (1937)
Glory
Over the Goal (1937)
William
Love Is News (1937)
Black man at City Hall
Star for a Night (1936)
Maid's boyfriend
Mysterious Crossing (1936)
Porter
The Music Goes 'Round (1936)
Lucifer
The Green Pastures (1936)
Noah
Show Boat (1936)
Young black man
Three Men on a Horse (1936)
Moses
Rainbow on the River (1936)
Doctor
Two in a Crowd (1936)
Swipe
Transient Lady (1935)
"Noxious"
His Night Out (1935)
Bellhop
Behold My Wife! (1934)
Second chauffeur
What Price Hollywood? (1932)
James

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

Entertaining the Troops (1989)
Other

Cast (Special)

The Green Pastures (1957)
Noah

Cast (Short)

Calling All Kids (1943)
Voice

Life Events

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

Photo Collections

The Show-Off - Movie Poster
The Show-Off - Movie Poster

Videos

Movie Clip

Cabin In The Sky (1943) - Double Or Nothing Little Joe (Eddie "Rochester" Anderson) hides in the bushes while Petunia (Ethel Waters) settles some of his gambling debts (with Ernest Whitman as "Jim Henry") in MGM's Cabin In The Sky, 1943.
Cabin In The Sky (1943) - Open, Free Will Credits and first scene from MGM's production of the Broadway musical Cabin In The Sky, 1943, starring Eddie "Rochester" Anderson, Ethel Waters and Lena Horne, directed by Vincente Minnelli.
Cabin In The Sky (1943) - A Thing Called Joe Little Joe (Eddie "Rochester" Anderson) comes back to life, prompting Petunia (Ethel Waters) into her sparkling performance of "Happiness Is A Thing Called Joe" by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg, in MGM's Cabin In The Sky, 1943.
Cabin In The Sky (1943) - Honey In the Honeycomb Newly-rich Little Joe (Eddie "Rochester" Anderson) and Georgia (Lena Horne) arrive at the nightclub, where she finally does a song, "Honey In The Honeycomb," by Vernon Duke and John LaTouche, in MGM's Cabin In The Sky, 1943.
Brewster's Millions (1945) - Maybe Them Nazis Are Suing Having just arrived home, soldier Monty Brewster (Dennis O'Keefe), family and pals get news of great wealth from the unexpected Swearengen Jones (John Litel) in Brewster's Millions, 1945.
Brewster's Millions (1945) - On Our Way To The Poorhouse Mickey (Mischa Auer) and Trixie (June Havoc, her first scene) arrive to tell Monty (Dennis O’Keefe, title character) the Philadelphia show, designed to burn money, had to close, fianceè Peggy (Helen Walker) and pals (Joe Sawyer, Herbert Rudley) helping, in Brewster’s Millions, 1945.
Brewster's Millions (1945) - Open, He's Completely Whole Again Most of the key players including Jackson (Eddie "Rochester" Anderson), Peggy (Helen Walker) and soldier Monty Brewster (Dennis O'Keefe) are introduced in the opening to Brewster's Millions, 1945.
Brewster's Millions (1945) - Brewster And Company Suddenly under a secret obligation to spend a million dollars fast, Monty (Dennis O'Keefe) baffles friends and family (Herbert Rudley, Joe Sawyer, Eddie "Rochester" Anderson, Helen Walker) in Brewster's Millions, 1945.
Brewster's Millions (1945) - Black Magic Watching on an early TV, the Brewster and Company crew (Eddie "Rochester" Anderson, Helen Walker, Joe Sawyer and Herbert Rudley) don't realize Monty (Dennis O'Keefe) is trying to lose money on a horse race in Brewster's Millions, 1945.
Green Pastures, The (1936) - Here Comes De Lawd From a scene in which an African-American Louisiana Sunday school teacher describes heaven to his pupils, Gabriel (Oscar Polk) introduces Rex Ingram as “De Lawd,” visiting his angels, early in the Warner Bros.’ adaptation of Marc Connelly’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, The Green Pastures, 1936.

Trailer

Going Places (1938) - (Original Trailer) Louis Armstrong is the only one who can calm a difficult racehorse who is Going Places (1938) in this Warner Brothers musical.
Broadway Rhythm - (Original Trailer) A retired vaudevillian (Charles Winninger) clashes with his producer son (George Murphy) in this MGM Technicolor musical.
Gone With the Wind (1939) -- (1961 Re-Issue Trailer) Scarlett O'Hara (Vivien Leigh) fights to save her beloved plantation and find love during the Civil War in Gone With the Wind (1939).
Green Pastures, The - (Original Trailer) God tests the human race in a reenactment of Bible stories set in the world of black American folklore in The Green Pastures (1936), starring Rex Ingram.
Gold Diggers In Paris - (Original Trailer) In the last "gold diggers" musical, three chorus girls head to France in Gold Diggers In Paris (1938).
Three Men On A Horse - (Original Trailer) Gangsters kidnap a timid poet with a knack for picking winning horses in Mervyn LeRoy's Three Men On A Horse (1936).
Honolulu - (Original Trailer) A movie star trades places with a Hawaiian plantation owner in Honolulu (1939) starring Eleanor Powell and Robert Young.
Cabin in the Sky - (Original Trailer) God and Satan battle for the soul of a wounded gambler in the musical Cabin In The Sky (1943) with performances by Louis Armstong, Ethel Waters and Lena Horne.
Over The Goal - (Original Trailer) A college football star (William Hopper) risks his health to play in the big game in Over The Goal (1937).
Sailor Takes a Wife, The - (Original Trailer) A sailor gets more than he bargained for from a quickie marriage in the romantic comedy, The Sailor Takes a Wife (1945) starring Robert Walker and June Allyson.

Family

Ed Anderson
Father
Blackface minstrel.
Ella Mae Anderson
Mother
Former circus tightrope walker.
Cornelius Anderson
Brother
Performer. With Eddie, joined vaudeville team The Three Black Aces in 1919.
Billy Anderson
Son
Professional athlete. Adopted son; played baseball with the Chicago Cubs.
Stephanie Anderson
Daughter
Evangela Anderson
Daughter
Edmond Anderson
Son
Imprisoned on marijuana charges in the 1950s.

Companions

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

Bibliography

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)