If you enjoy watching comedy, the name Jack Benny would sound as familiar as home. Even with hundreds of comedic stars having made their name in Hollywood since the 30s, Jack Benny is still renowned as one of the leading entertainers of the 20th century, especially because of the tidal waves his show brought to both the sitcom genre and the industry.
Nothing Without His Trusted Sidekick
Not only was the Jack Benny Program a godsend for the comedy genre, but the show played a major role in changing narratives for one of the biggest social problems of the time: racial discrimination. During the Jim Crow era, the funnyman with the comical and captivating personality became one of the leading proponents of improving the treatment of African-Americans.
The character Rochester, played by Eddie Anderson, was the most revolutionary character of the time. For the first time in the industry’s history, thanks to Jack Benny’s farsightedness, an actual black man was hired to play the role of a black man on television. Before this, the thought of white people and people of color working together side by side was unthinkable and all portrayals of a black person on TV were done by white men in makeup. If you look at some of those works now, most notably Amos ‘n’ Andy, the only word to come to mind would probably be ‘ridiculous’.
What took Rochester’s performance a step further was that he always got the last word. Though the character was the cleaning staff/ chauffeur/valet/everything else that Jack’s character could get him to do, he could always poke fun at the miserly persona or shortcomings of his boss. Over the years, the Jack Benny Program – which gave us 15 seasons and 931 amazing episodes to cherish – came to be one of the most beloved shows on television (except by Southerners, but who cares about them?)
Born to Be a Star
Although Eddie’s deal was with the show was originally just for one season, his character struck such a chord with the audience that the Jack Benny Program would be incomplete and definitely not the same without him. Together, the duo garnered even more fame and even went on to act in movies such as Buck Benny Rides Again.
Wrapping It Up
To date, no actor has been so closely associated with a role than Eddie with Rochester. Soon enough, the character and he became one when he decided to change his legal name to Eddie “Rochester” Anderson.