Ernest Anderson was known for his unforgettable performance in the 1942 film, In This Our Life – a single, supporting role that promoted the alteration of negative depictions presented of African-Americans in Hollywood film.
Anderson was born on August 25, 1915, in Richmond, Virginia. He attended Dunbar High School in Washington, D.C. and went on to Northwestern University’s School of Drama of Speech. After graduating from college, he moved to Hollywood where he worked as a serviceman for Warner Brothers studio before receiving his debut role in In This Our Life.
Bette Davis, In This Our Life, protagonist arranged Anderson’s interview for the part of Parry Clay – an aspiring lawyer who is falsely placed at the center of a hit-and-run scandal committed by a spoiled Southern woman.
Anderson appeared in several films after In This Our Life, however, he was a black man in a white-owned industry. After working with John Huston, Bette Davis and Olivia de Havilland in the A-list film, his following roles were “Elevator Operator,” “Houseboy” or “Train Porter.”
He later served in the army until his honorable discharge, he then returned to work at Warner Brothers in 1947 to work as a contract player. He stayed active in the film until the late 1960s. He spent most of his working years trying to humanize the demeaning roles of black actors. Anderson died in Los Angeles in 1997.