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Eddie "Rochester" Anderson

Eddie "Rochester" Anderson

Known For: Acting · Birthday: 1905-09-18 · Deathday: 1977-02-28 (71 years old) · Place of Birth: Oakland, California, USA

56 Movies · 6 TV shows

Also Known As: Eddie Anderson · Edmund Lincoln Anderson · Rochester

Biography

Eddie "Rochester" Anderson (1905–1977) was an American comic actor who became famous playing Rochester, the valet to Jack Benny's eponymous title character on the long-running radio and television series The Jack Benny Program.

Personal Life

Marriages and children. On May 2, 1939, Anderson married Mamie (Wiggins) Nelson. She was the daughter of Alonzo and Annie Wiggins of Eastman, GA. Mamie died on August 5, 1954, at the age of 43, following a two-year battle with cancer. At the time of her death she and Anderson had been married for 15 years and her son Billy (Anderson's stepson) was playing professional football for the Chicago Bears. Billy was born George Billy Nelson to Mamie Wiggins and her previous husband on March 8, 1929, in Los Angeles. When Mamie married Eddie Anderson, Billy was adopted and took the surname Anderson.Following Mamie's death, Anderson married Evangela "Eva" Simon on February 8, 1956, at Kingman, Arizona. The couple had three children: daughters Stephanie and Evangela Jr. ("Eva"), and son Edmund Jr. Simon and Anderson divorced in 1973 with Anderson retaining custody of his minor son and daughter. Home. Like many of the African-Americans in the entertainment industry, Anderson made his home in the West Adams district of Los Angeles. In previous times, the district had been home to doctors, lawyers, and railroad barons. In the Depression era, the area had fallen into hard times, with many residents needing to either sell their homes or rent out rooms in them. By the 1940s, the African-American entertainment community began purchasing homes in the district, nicknaming it "Sugar Hill". Some property owners reacted to their new neighbors by adding restrictive covenants to their deeds. The covenants either prohibited African-Americans from purchasing a property or inhabiting it once purchased. The practice was declared illegal by the US Supreme Court in 1948.Since Anderson wanted to build a home designed by Paul Williams, he was limited in his choice of a site for it by these restrictive covenants. As a result, his large and luxurious home with a swimming pool where the neighborhood children were always welcome, stands in an area of smaller, bungalow-style homes. The street was renamed because 'Rochester' lived on it. Hobbies. Anderson built model airplanes and racing cars, but also designed a life-size sports car for himself in 1951. Anderson combined a Cadillac engine under the hood and a sleek, low-slung exterior to create a car he both drove and exhibited at various sports car shows throughout the country.Anderson, who was the skipper of his own cabin cruiser, was missing and feared lost at sea in February 1946. When the boat developed engine trouble, Anderson and his two friends did everything sailors are expected to do to signal an SOS. They used mirrors, built fires, used lanterns and flew the ship's flag upside-down to indicate they were in distress. They spent the night adrift until a fishing boat finally spotted them and towed them into Los Angeles harbor. Anderson did not realize he had caused great concern until he heard a news story on the radio that described the search for him as still continuing. On the following Sunday, Anderson was back on the "Lucky Strike Program," and joked with Jack Benny about the incident. ("That's the first time I ever had a 'lost weekend' on nothing but water!") = Horse racing. = Anderson was the owner of racehorses. The best known of them was Burnt Cork, a Thoroughbred that ran in the 1943 Kentucky Derby, making him the first African-American owner of a horse entered into the Derby. Having been given the following day off by Benny, Anderson and his wife, Mamie, traveled to Louisville, Kentucky to see their horse run in the Derby. Since segregation in public accommodations was practiced there, the Andersons were invited to be guests at the home of Mae Street Kidd, a noted female African-American Kentucky politician.Both before and after the race, Anderson was accused of entering his horse in the race strictly for publicity purposes for himself, especially after Burnt Cork finished last. Those making the statements believed this tarnished the name and history of the race. Jack Cuddy, a United Press International sports columnist, pointed out in his column that around the same time Burnt Cork ran last for Anderson, King George VI's horse, Tipstaff, finished last at Ascot without any of the comments that surrounded Anderson.When Burnt Cork won an important race, Anderson came to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer for work dressed as a Kentucky colonel; he also insisted on being called "Colonel Rochester".After the Benny television show had left the air, Anderson turned back to his love of horses and racing, working as a trainer at the Hollywood Park Racetrack until shortly before his death. He acquired much of his knowledge when one of his racing horses, Up and Over, was injured in a fall; it was suggested that the horse be euthanized due to the extent of those injuries. Anderson refused this and said he would take care of his injured animal. He spent extensive periods of time at the Paramount Pictures studio library, reading everything in their collection on equine anatomy. This led Anderson to a veterinary surgeon who was interested in helping Up and Over; together the two men got the thoroughbred back on his feet again.

Early Life

Anderson was born in Oakland, California. His father, "Big Ed" Anderson, was a minstrel performer, while his mother, Ella Mae, had been a tightrope walker until her career was ended by a fall. He described himself as being a descendant of slaves who were able to leave the South during the Civil War through the Underground Railroad. At the age of ten, Anderson and his family moved from Oakland to San Francisco. He left school when he was 14 to work as an errand boy to help his family.Stage-struck at an early age, he spent much of his free time waiting at stage doors and cutting up on street corners with his friend and brother, Cornelius. Anderson briefly tried being a jockey, but had to give it up when he became too heavy. Anderson started in show business as part of an all African-American revue at age 14; he had previously won an amateur contest at a vaudeville theater in San Francisco. Anderson joined the cast of Struttin' Along in 1923 and was part of Steppin' High both as a dancer and as one of the "Three Black Aces" with his brother, Cornelius, in 1924. He later worked in vaudeville with Cornelius. Anderson began adding comedy to his song and dance act in 1926. During one of his vaudeville tours to the East Coast, Anderson first met Jack Benny; the men only exchanged greetings and shook hands.Anderson's vocal cords were ruptured when he was a youngster selling newspapers in San Francisco. The newsboys believed those who were able to shout the loudest sold the most papers. The permanent damage done to his vocal cords left him with the gravel voice familiar to both radio listeners and television viewers over a course of more than twenty years. Anderson was also a dancer and got his show business start in this way, but it was his uniquely recognizable voice that brought him to stardom.

Movies & TV shows

2004.

1 Movie

1991.

1 Movie

1976.

1 Movie

1972.

1 TV show

1970.

1 TV show

1968.

1 TV show

1963.

1 Movie

1959.

1 Movie

1951.

1 TV show

1950.

1 Movie · 2 TV shows

1946.

1 Movie

1945.

3 Movies

1944.

1 Movie

1943.

4 Movies

1942.

2 Movies

1941.

3 Movies

1940.

2 Movies

1939.

5 Movies

1938.

8 Movies

1937.

9 Movies

1936.

5 Movies

1935.

1 Movie

1934.

1 Movie

1933.

3 Movies

1932.

2 Movies
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