Ennis Cosby

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Ennis Cosby
Ennis Cosby.jpg
Ennis (bottom) with his father Bill (top)
Born Ennis William Cosby
(1969-04-15)April 15, 1969
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Died January 16, 1997(1997-01-16) (aged 27)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Cause of death
Resting place
Cosby Family Cemetery, Cosby Estate
Residence East Side of Manhattan
Nationality American
Ethnicity African American
Education Eaglebrook School
George School
Alma mater Morehouse College
Landmark College
Columbia University
Teachers College, Columbia University
Parents Bill Cosby
Camille Cosby

Ennis William Cosby (April 15, 1969 – January 16, 1997) was the son of American comedian-actor Bill Cosby. Cosby, a graduate student and aspiring teacher, was fatally shot by the perpetrator of an attempted robbery in Los Angeles in 1997.

Early life and education[edit]

Cosby was born in Los Angeles, the third of five children (and the only son) of Bill and Camille Cosby. On his 1969 television special, his father joked to his pregnant wife that the baby "had better be a boy, you hear, Camille?"[1]

Cosby attended Eaglebrook School in Deerfield, Massachusetts and graduated from George School in Newtown, Pennsylvania. In 1988, he enrolled in Morehouse College, but after being diagnosed with dyslexia, he transferred for a time to Landmark College, which had a specific dyslexia program. After returning to Morehouse, he graduated in 1992. In 1995 he earned a master's degree in education from Columbia University.[2]

Although he had performed on stage in high school, Cosby remained a private figure, aspiring to become a special education teacher, having served an internship in special education at a school on Manhattan's West Side. At the time of his death, Cosby was pursuing his doctorate at Teachers College, Columbia University and living near his parents' home in Manhattan's East Side.[3]

The character of Theo Huxtable, portrayed by Malcolm Jamal Warner on NBC's The Cosby Show, was based on Ennis.[2] Bill Cosby also wrote situations and conversations that he had with Ennis into the series.[4]


On the evening of January 16, 1997, Cosby, on break from school, was driving to visit a friend when his car developed a flat tire on Interstate 405 in Los Angeles. He telephoned his friend, who drove out to assist him.

While Cosby changed the tire, his friend remained in her own car. An armed man approached her driver-side window, causing her to move the vehicle twenty to fifty feet. When she returned, she discovered that Cosby had been shot in the head.[5]

Cosby was buried January 19, 1997, at the Cosby family estate in Shelburne, Massachusetts.[6]

After America's Most Wanted and The National Enquirer offered a $100,000 reward for information, the Enquirer received a call telling them that Mikhail Markhasev, an 18-year-old Ukrainian immigrant, had bragged that he'd shot a black man and that the case was on the news.[7]

Born in Lviv, Markhasev had come to the U.S. in 1989 with his mother, attending a program for gifted children in West Hollywood, where a teacher described him as well-liked and well-behaved. But, after moving to Los Alamitos, California, in 1992, he began hanging out with a gang and exhibiting racism. In 1995 Markhasev and other gang members attacked two African American men with a knife at a gas station and served six months at a juvenile correctional facility. According to a friend, his time in the facility changed him, and he seemed more combative and angrier upon his release.[7]

Prosecutors said that Markhasev, after demanding money from Cosby, shot him in the head because he was moving too slowly. Markhasev's DNA was found on a knit cap wrapped around a gun found five miles from the crime scene, and the gun was matched to the bullet that killed Cosby.

Letters written by Markhasev while in jail were presented at his trial. In one letter, Markhasev wrote: "I shot the nigger .... I went to rob a [drug dealer] and obviously found something else."[citation needed]

In 1998 Markhasev was sentenced to life in prison without parole, plus 10 years, for first-degree murder and attempted robbery.[8] The Cosby family had asked prosecutors not to seek the death penalty.[9]

In 2001 Markhasev confessed in a handwritten letter to a California Deputy Attorney General: "Although my appeal is in its beginning stages, I don't want to continue with it because it's based on falsehood and deceit .... I am guilty, and I want to do the right thing .... More than anything, I want to apologize to the victim's family. It is my duty as a Christian, and it's the least I can do, after the great wickedness for which I am responsible."[9][10]


Ennis would often say "Hello, friend," a term Bill Cosby would later adopt.[11] The phrase would become Little Bill's on his eponymous Nickelodeon television series. The Hello Friend/Ennis William Cosby Foundation was established in 1997 by Bill and Camille Cosby and assisted in addressing the needs and capabilities of those with learning difficulties by operating as a model for institutional transformation until its suspension in December 2008.[2]

In 2000, Bill Cosby started a scholarship in Ennis Cosby's name at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.[12]


  1. ^ "Cosby Gets his Wish: A Son". Jet (Johnson Publishing Company) 36 (4): 25. 1969-05-01. ISSN 0021-5996. 
  2. ^ a b c Castro, Peter (1997-02-03). "Goodbye, Friend". People 47 (4). 
  3. ^ McQuiston, John T. (1997-01-17). "Ennis Cosby Is Recalled As Devoted to Teaching". nytimes.com. Retrieved 12 November 2012. 
  4. ^ Hall, Jane (1984-12-10). "Bill Cosby Huffs and Puffs on and Off His Hit Sitcom, but His TV Kids Say Father Knows Best". people.com. Retrieved 12 November 2012. 
  5. ^ "Ukrainian Immigrant Mikail Markhasev Found Guilty Of Murdering Ennis Cosby". Jet (Johnson Publishing Company) 64 (9): 25. 1998-07-27. 
  6. ^ Avenoso, Karen (1997-01-20). "Ennis Cosby Laid to Rest; Funeral Held at Family's Mass. Estate". philly.com. Retrieved 12 November 2012. 
  7. ^ a b Stambler, Lyndon; Campbell, Julia (1992-07-06). "In Search of Justice". People 49 (26). 
  8. ^ Berry, Steve (August 12, 1998). "Cosby’s Killer Gets Life in Prison." Los Angeles Times.
  9. ^ a b Robinson, Bryan (2001-02-09). "Convicted Killer of Ennis Cosby Confesses". abcnews.go.com. Retrieved 12 November 2012. 
  10. ^ Siemaszko, Corky (December 11, 2004). "Scott's Fate Still in Limbo." Daily News.
  11. ^ "Hello, Jell-O!". Daily Union. 2 May 1999. Retrieved 29 July 2011. 
  12. ^ "A Cosby Surprise". Jet (Johnson Publishing Company) 97 (25): 62. 2000-05-29. 

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