Eddie “Rochester” Anderson (1905-1977) was an American actor and comedian known for his role as “Rochester Van Jones,” the loyal and quick-witted valet of the main character in the popular radio and television show “The Jack Benny Program.” He was born on September 18, 1905, in Oakland, California.
Anderson began his entertainment career as a performer in minstrel shows and vaudeville. He later transitioned to radio, where he gained recognition for his comedic timing and distinctive voice. In 1937, he joined “The Jack Benny Program” as the character Rochester, a role he would play for over 20 years.
As Rochester, Anderson became one of the first African-American actors to achieve mainstream success on a national radio program. He was known for his humorous interactions with Jack Benny, often delivering clever one-liners and showcasing his comedic talents.
In addition to his role in “The Jack Benny Program,” Anderson appeared in several films throughout his career. Notably, he starred alongside Jack Benny in the 1940 film “Buck Benny Rides Again” and the 1942 film “George Washington Slept Here.” He also had supporting roles in other movies, including “Cabin in the Sky” (1943) and “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” (1963).
Anderson’s portrayal of Rochester was criticized by some for perpetuating racial stereotypes, as his character often spoke in a dialect associated with African-Americans at the time. However, many viewers appreciated his comedic talent and the warmth he brought to the character.
Eddie “Rochester” Anderson passed away on February 28, 1977, in Los Angeles, California, at the age of 71. He left a lasting impact on the entertainment industry, particularly for his contributions to radio and his portrayal of Rochester, a character beloved by audiences of “The Jack Benny Program.”