Comedian, singer-songwriter, bandleader and actor Timothy John Anerum (“Timmie Rogers”) was born in Detroit, MI, 1914.
Rogers was known as the Jackie Robinson of Black Comedy because he opened the door for other performers such as Dick Gregory by insisting on not wearing blackface, donning a tuxedo and standing firm with his conviction. His comedy was clean, topical and political. His catchphrase was “Oh Yeah!” and Timmie Rogers starred in US television’s first black prime-time show Uptown Jubilee on CBS in 1949 and opened for Latin sensation, Carmen Miranda.
At the age of eight, he began earning money by dancing on the street. Rogers ran away from home at age 12 and became a dishwasher. He also learned nine languages by learning those of the other dishwashers. He later recorded in French and German. A job cleaning ashtrays led to a job at that ballroom dancing onstage. He became part of the vaudeville dance team, Timmie & Freddie in 1932. They dissolved in 1944.
Rogers found work as a recurring guest star on The Jackie Gleason Show and worked with Gleason for over forty years. Rogers wrote, “If You Can’t Smile and Say Yes”, recorded by Nat King Cole. He also wrote songs for Carmen McRae and Sarah Vaughn. In the late 50’s he recorded the hits, “Back to School Again” and “I Love Ya, I Love Ya, I Love Ya”.
Timmie Rogers made appearances in sitcoms in the 60s and 70s including “Sanford & Son” and “Good Times”. He’s featured in the oral history book, “Black Comedians on Black Comedy” and in 1993 Rogers was inducted into the National Comedy Hall of Fame.
Rogers passed on December 17, 2006 of undisclosed causes at the age of 92.
By Darryl ‘D’ Militant’ Littleton