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Jack Benny and the Golden Age of American Radio Comedy$
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Kathryn H. Fuller-Seeley

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780520295049

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520295049.001.0001

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Rochester and the Revenge of Uncle Tom in the 1940s and 1950s

Rochester and the Revenge of Uncle Tom in the 1940s and 1950s

(p.154) Five Rochester and the Revenge of Uncle Tom in the 1940s and 1950s
Jack Benny and the Golden Age of American Radio Comedy

Kathryn H. Fuller-Seeley

University of California Press

Hugely popular on radio and in film playing Rochester in the early 1940s, Eddie Anderson’s celebrity and career were at a peak in the World War II years, when in film, and in government-created publicity, he was a spokesman for black opportunity that was non-threatening across the white political spectrum. Race riots, conservative white backlash, and growth of assertive black critics rooting out “Uncle Tom” accommodation to white dominance, threatened Anderson’s career. Even Benny and his writers could occasionally unthinkingly forget to move ahead, as a recycled old script about Rochester’s minstrel-type ways raised outraged cries from the black press in 1950. Anderson became even more central to Benny’s program in the 1950s with Mary Livingstone’s retirement, as Rochester was dismissed by many as passé, but on the other hand, closer than ever to Jack as an interracial “Odd Couple” of housemates.

Keywords:   race riots, integration, Civil Rights, Jim Crow, Uncle Tom, NAACP, race relations, celebrity

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