Eddie "Rochester" Anderson

Actor, Chorus boy
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 ... Read more »
Born: 09/17/1905 in Oakland, California, USA

Filmography

Actor (34)

Entertaining the Troops 1987 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

The Harlem Globetrotters 1970 - 1973 (TV Show)

Voice

Jack Benny's 20th Anniversary TV Special 1970 - 1971 (TV Show)

Actor

The Jack Benny Program 1950 - 1965 (TV Show)

Actor

It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World 1963 (Movie)

1st Cab Driver (Actor)

Last of the Private Eyes 1962 - 1963 (TV Show)

Actor

Brewster's Millions 1945 (Movie)

Jackson (Actor)

Broadway Rhythm 1943 (Movie)

(Actor)

Cabin in the Sky 1942 (Movie)

Little Joe (Actor)

What's Buzzin' Cousin? 1942 (Movie)

(Actor)

Star Spangled Rhythm 1941 (Movie)

(Actor)

Going Places 1938 (Movie)

(Actor)

You Can't Take It With You 1938 (Movie)

(Actor)

Jezebel 1937 (Movie)

(Actor)

Kentucky 1937 (Movie)

(Actor)

Thanks For the Memory 1937 (Movie)

(Actor)

What Price Hollywood? 1931 (Movie)

James (Actor)

Birth of the Blues (Movie)

Louie (Actor)

False Faces (Movie)

(Actor)

Gold Diggers in Paris (Movie)

Doorman (Actor)

Honolulu (Movie)

Washington (Actor)

Kiss the Boys Goodbye (Movie)

George (Actor)

Love Is News (Movie)

(Actor)

On Such a Night (Movie)

Henry Clay Washington (Actor)

One Mile from Heaven (Movie)

Henry Bangs (Actor)

Over the Goal (Movie)

William (Actor)

Tales of Manhattan (Movie)

Rev. Lazarus (Actor)

The Green Pastures (Movie)

Noah (Actor)

The Meanest Man in the World (Movie)

Shufro (Actor)

The Music Goes 'round (Movie)

(Actor)

The Sailor Takes a Wife (Movie)

Harry (Actor)

The Show-Off (Movie)

Rochester (Actor)

Three Men on a Horse (Movie)

Moses (Actor)

Topper Returns (Movie)

Chauffeur (Actor)

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).

Relationships

Evangela Anderson

Daughter

Stephanie Anderson

Daughter

Eva Anderson

Wife
second wife divorced

Ed Anderson

Father

Mamie Anderson

Wife
met when they both performed at the Cotton Club in L.A. died in 1954

Ella Anderson

Mother

Billy Anderson

Son
adopted son played baseball with the Chicago Cubs

Edmond Anderson

Son
imprisoned on marijuana charges in the 1950s

Cornelius Anderson

Brother
with Eddie, joined vaudeville team The Three Black Aces in 1919

Milestones

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

1963

Returned to films in "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad World"; final feature appearance

1957

Reprised role of Noah in TV adaptation of "Green Pastures"

1950

Toured Europe with Benny

1946

Retired from films

1944

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"

1942

Played rare leading role in features in Vincente Minnelli's all-black cast musical, "Cabin in the Sky"

1940

Acted on screen with Benny in "Buck Benny Rides Again"

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

1936

Had first dramatic role in "Green Pastures"

1932

First speaking part in films, "What Price Hollywood?"

1930

Performed in vaudeville as a song-and-dance team with his brother Cornelius (dates approximate)

1927

Film debut, "No Place to Go/Her Primitive Mate"

Joined an all-black revue at age 14; eventually played the Roxy, Cotton Club and Apollo in Harlem and appeared in vaudeville

Had cataract operations in mid-1970s

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

Bonus Trivia

.

"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)

SIMILAR ARTICLES