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Encyclopedia > Eddie 'Rochester' Anderson

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Eddie 'Rochester' Anderson

Eddie "Rochester" Anderson (September 18, 1905 - February 28, 1977) was an African-American comic actor and star of movies, television and especially old-time radio, where he played the butler Rochester to Jack Benny's eponymous title character on The Jack Benny Show. (Anderson was of course not Benny's butler in real life, as many listeners of the time apparently thought in somewhat condescending fashion.)

Anderson was as responsible as was Benny for the show's tremendous success across so many segments of American society, and the relationship between Anderson and Benny became more complex and intimate as the years went by.

Benny's call of "Rochester," and Anderson's answers (often a raspy "Yes, Boss," but just as often a snappy joke at Benny's expense) were among the weekly highlights of the show, and some newspapers reportedly listed the show as the The Eddie Anderson Show, with Benny relegated to a secondary role (this despite the show's opening title being repeated each week by announcer Don Wilson).

That said, Anderson was playing a servant, as with other shows with African-American leads, such as Ethel Waters in Beulah[?]. Even thirty years later, Bill Cosby was cast as a valet/trainer to tennis star Robert Culp[?] in I Spy[?]. In the meantime, Amos and Andy depicted African-Americans in more typical working class and professional roles.



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