Comic actor Eddie Anderson was born into a show business family.
His father was a minstrel performer, and his mother a circus tight
rope walker. Anderson entered show business at age 14, teaming with
his brother Cornelius in a song-and-dance act.
After appearing in his first film Green Pastures, Anderson
was given a part as a railway porter on The Jack Benny Program.
Response to Andersons performance was so positive that he
was invited back and Jack Benny encouraged the shows writers
to expand his role.
The porter that Anderson played eventually became Rochester,
Bennys chauffeur. By the early 1940s, Andersons Rochester
had become so popular that he enjoyed star billing with Benny.
Early on, Andersons Rochester reflected the negative,
stereotypical portrayal of black men. Over the course of the shows
long run, Anderson was able to add depth to Rochester.
As Rochester became a valued member of The Jack Benny
Program cast, the shows writers eliminated some of the
Andersons talent and popularity enabled him to evolve into
one of the more outspoken black actors in radio. In addition to
his radio career, Anderson co-starred with Jack Benny in several
films and on his television series.
Eddie Anderson died on February 28, 1977.
Eddie Anderson was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 2001.
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