Eddie Rochester Anderson – MovieActors.com
Anderson in TOPPER RETURNS.
About Eddie Rochester Anderson (1905 – 1977)
Eddie 'Rochester' Anderson was born on September 18, 1905, in Oakland, California. He was the son of a minstrel performer; Big Ed Anderson, and a tight-rope walker, Ella May Anderson, who lost her career after she fell. His family was descended from slaves who escaped the South through the underground railroad.
Eddie was married twice, and had four children. Eddie out-lived both of his wives: Mamie Wiggins Nelson;(married 1939-1954), and Eva Simon; (married 1956-1973).
When young Eddie was ten years old, his family moved to the city of San Francisco. Eddie did his best to contribute income to his struggling family. As a 12 year old boy, Eddie Anderson overstrained his vocal cords hawking paper as a newsboy, which explains his inimitable rasp. This rasp developed into a gravel voice early in life which would become his trademark to fame.
Unable to work as a paperboy any longer, Eddie dropped out of school to be an errand boy. He also trained to be a jockey, until he became too big. Eddie's break in show business was when he won a vaudeville competition at a San Francisco Theater at 14, and joined the cast of the vaudville production, STRUTTIN' ALONG, in 1923.
In 1924, Eddie joined his older brother, Cornelius, as members of THE THREE BLACK ACES, that started singing for pennies in hotel lobbies. This led to more dancing and singing experiences at the Roxy, The Apollo and The Los Angeles Cotton Club.
At some point, Eddie became a solo act. In 1928, Eddie started to add comedy to his song and dance act. He met Jack Benny at one of his vaudeville tours to the East coast. Despite this encounter was a brief one, Jack Benny would remember him for a later project.
In 1936, Eddie Anderson began to appear in films, his best being the featured role of NOAH in THE GREEN PASTURES.
In 1937, comedy star Jack Benny remembered his meeting with Eddie, and really brought to Eddie Anderson's life a huge boost of fame, by hiring him to be on his radio program. Eddie originally was hired for one radio episode as the porter who gets one up on Jack Benny, on a train trip. The chemistry and rapor were so good, that Eddie was hired twice more playing different characters. Benny's audience whole-heartedly agreed.
The Jack Benny's radio audience thoroughly loved the banter between the two, and enjoyed Eddie's characters, as much as Jack loved working with Eddie. Jack decided to bring Eddie on full-time, as a regular character on The Jack Benny Show. Eddie played the part of being Benny's personal valet, Rochester Van Jones. This role became so popular that Eddie was billed as Eddie Rochester Anderson.
Concentrating on his partnership with Jack Benny, Eddie followed Jack into television and worked with him for a total of twenty-three years.
Anderson was in five movies with Benny: MAN ABOUT TOWN; (1939), BUCK BENNY RIDES AGAIN; (1940), LOVE THY NEIGHBOR; (1940), and THE MEANEST MAN IN TOWN;(1943).
In 1963, Eddie Rochester Anderson returned to the screen for IT'S A MAD MAD MAD MAD WORLD. This hit comedy would be Anderson's last film.
While his poor health forced him into retirement, Eddie still found ways to use his talents. He did voice-over work, giving his voice to cartoon characters in two different animated TV Series: HARLEM GLOBE TROTTERS;(1970-1971), and THE NEW SCOOBY DOO MOVIES;(1972-1973).
On February 28, 1977, Eddie 'Rochester' Anderson passed away in Los Angeles, California from a heart ailment.
Eddie Anderson was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 2001.
Eddie Rochester Anderson's notable movie credits include...
IT'S A MAD MAD MAD MAD WORLD (1963)
THE SHOW OFF (1946)
BREWSTER'S MILLIONS (1945)
THE MEANEST MAN IN THE WORLD (1943)
CABIN IN THE SKY (1943)
WHAT'S BUZZIN COUSIN?( 1943)
TOPPER RETURNS (1941)
BIRTH OF THE BLUES (1941)
LOVE THY NEIGHBOR (1940)
BUCK BENNY RIDES AGAIN (1940)
YOU CAN'T CHEAT AN HONEST MAN (1939)
MAN ABOUT TOWN (1939)
GONE WITH THE WIND (1939)
YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU(1938)
RECKLESS LIVING (1938)
RAINBOW ON THE RIVER (1936)
GREEN PASTURES (1936)
Eddie Rochester Anderson in YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU (1938).
Eddie 'Rochester' Anderson in TOPPER RETURNS (1941).