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Bill Cosby

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Not to be confused with William Cosby.
Bill Cosby
2011 Bill Cosby.jpg
Cosby in 2011
Born William Henry Cosby Jr.
(1937-07-12) July 12, 1937 (age 78)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Alma mater UMass Amherst (Ed.D., 1976)
Occupation Actor, comedian, author, producer
Years active 1962–present
Spouse(s) Camille Hanks Cosby (m. 1964)
Children 5, including Erika Cosby
Comedy career
Medium Stand-up comedy, film, television
Genres Observational comedy, satire, surreal humor, deadpan
Influenced Chris Rock,[1] Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy
Website www.billcosby.com

William Henry "Bill" Cosby Jr. (born July 12, 1937) is an American stand-up comedian, actor, author, and activist.

Cosby's start in stand-up comedy began at the hungry i in San Francisco, followed by landing a starring role in the 1960s television show I Spy. During its first two seasons, he was also a regular on the children's television series The Electric Company.

Using the Fat Albert character developed during his stand-up routines, Cosby created, produced, and hosted the animated comedy television series Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, a show that ran from 1972 to 1985, centering on a group of young friends growing up in an urban area. Throughout the 1970s, Cosby starred in a number of films, occasionally returning to film later in his career. After attending Temple University in the 1960s, he received his bachelor's degree from Temple in 1971. In 1973 he received a master's degree from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and in 1976 he earned his Doctor of Education degree, also from UMass. His dissertation discussed the use of Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids as a teaching tool in elementary schools.

Beginning in the 1980s, Cosby produced and starred in a television sitcom, The Cosby Show, which aired from 1984 to 1992 and was rated as the number one show in America for five years, 1984 through 1989.[2] The sitcom highlighted the experiences and growth of an affluent African-American family. Cosby produced the Cosby Show spin-off sitcom A Different World, which aired from 1987 to 1993; starred in the sitcom Cosby from 1996 to 2000; and hosted Kids Say the Darndest Things for two seasons, from 1998 to 2000.

Since 2000, Cosby has been accused by numerous women of sexual assault and rape, with the earliest alleged incidents taking place in the mid-1960s and with many claiming to have been victims of drug facilitated sexual assault. He has denied the allegations and has never been criminally charged. Most of the acts alleged by his accusers fall outside the statutes of limitations for legal proceedings. However, as of July 2015, two lawsuits against Cosby are pending, including one for defamation of character.[3]

Early life

Cosby, circa early 1960s

Cosby was born on July 12, 1937[4] in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.[5] He is one of four sons of Anna Pearl (née Hite), a maid, and William Henry Cosby Sr., who served as a cook in the U.S. Navy.[5][6] During much of Cosby's early childhood, his father was away in the U.S. armed forces, spending several years fighting in World War II. As a student, he described himself as a class clown. Cosby was the captain of both the baseball team and the track and field team at Mary Channing Wister Public School in Philadelphia, as well as the class president.[7] Early on, though, teachers noted his propensity for clowning around rather than studying.[8] At FitzSimons Junior High School, Cosby began acting in plays as well as continuing his devotion to playing sports.[9] He went on to Philadelphia's Central High School, a magnet and university prep school.[9] In addition, Cosby was working before and after school, selling produce, shining shoes, and stocking shelves at a supermarket to help out the family.[9] He transferred to Germantown High School, but failed the tenth grade.[10] Instead of repeating, he got a job as an apprentice at a shoe repair shop, which he liked, but could not see himself doing the rest of his life.[9] Subsequently, he joined the Navy, serving at the Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, Naval Station Argentia, Newfoundland and at the Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland.[11] During his four years in the Navy, Cosby served as a Hospital Corpsman working in physical therapy with Navy and Marine Corps personnel injured during the Korean War.[11]

He finished his equivalency diploma via correspondence courses[12] and was awarded a track and field scholarship to Philadelphia's Temple University in 1961.[13] There, he studied physical education while running track and playing fullback on the university's football team.[citation needed]

As Cosby progressed through his undergraduate studies, he continued to hone his talent for humor, joking with fellow enlistees in the service and then with college friends. When he began bartending at a Philadelphia club to earn money, he became more aware of his ability to make people laugh. After using humor on his customers and seeing his tips increase, he then took his talent to the stage.[14]

Stand-up career

Cosby left Temple to pursue a career in comedy, lining up standup jobs at clubs first in Philadelphia and then in New York City, where he appeared at The Gaslight Cafe beginning in 1962.[9] He booked dates in cities such as Chicago, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Washington, D.C.. He received national exposure on NBC's The Tonight Show in the summer of 1963. This led to a recording contract with Warner Bros. Records, who, in 1964, released his debut LP Bill Cosby Is a Very Funny Fellow...Right!, the first of a series of comedy albums.[citation needed]

While many comics of the time were using the growing freedom of that decade to explore material that was controversial and sometimes risqué, Cosby was making his reputation with humorous recollections of his childhood. Many Americans wondered about the absence of race as a topic in Cosby's stories. As Cosby's success grew he had to defend his choice of material regularly; as he argued, "A white person listens to my act and he laughs and he thinks, 'Yeah, that's the way I see it too.' Okay. He's white. I'm Negro. And we both see things the same way. That must mean that we are alike. Right? So I figure this way I'm doing as much for good race relations as the next guy."[15]

Younger, well-established comics like Jerry Seinfeld have credited Cosby as an innovator both as a practitioner of the genre of standup comedy, but also as a person who paved the way for comics to break into sitcom television. Seinfeld said of Cosby: "He opened a door for all of us, for all of the networks to even consider that this was a way to create a character, was to take someone who can hold an audience just by being up there and telling their story. He created that. He created the whole idea of taking a quote-unquote 'comic' and developing a TV show just from a persona that you see onstage."[16] Comedian Larry Wilmore also saw a connection between Cosby's standup, in the concert film Bill Cosby: Himself, and the later success of the The Cosby Show, saying: "It's clear that the concert is the template for The Cosby Show."[16]

Cosby performed his first TV standup special in 30 years, "Bill Cosby: Far From Finished", on Comedy Central on November 23, 2013.[17]

Cosby's last show of the "Far From Finished" tour was performed at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre in Atlanta, Georgia on May 2, 2015.[18]

In July 2015, Deadline Hollywood Daily reported that Cosby's agency since 2012, Creative Artists Agency (CAA), stopped representing him in late 2014, leaving Cosby without representation in Hollywood.[19]

Acting career

I Spy

In 1965, Cosby was cast alongside Robert Culp in the I Spy espionage adventure series on NBC. I Spy became the first weekly dramatic television series to feature an African American in a starring role.[20] At first Cosby and NBC executives were concerned that some affiliates might be unwilling to carry the series. At the beginning of the 1965 season, four stations declined the show; they were in Georgia, Florida, and Alabama.[21] Viewers were taken with the show's exotic locales and the authentic chemistry between the stars, and it became one of the ratings hits of that television season. I Spy finished among the twenty most-watched shows that year, and Cosby would be honored with three consecutive Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series.[22] When accepting his third Emmy for the show, Cosby told the audience: “Let the message be known to bigots and racists that they don’t count!”[22]

During the run of the series, Cosby continued to do stand-up comedy performances and recorded a half-dozen record albums for Warner Bros. Records. He also began to dabble in singing, recording Silver Throat: Bill Cosby Sings in 1967, which provided him with a hit single with his recording of Little Ole Man (Uptight, Everything's Alright).[citation needed] As a single, the song sold over one million copies in the U.S. (achieving "gold" status), and hit number 4 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. He would record several more musical albums into the early 1970s, but he continued to record primarily stand-up comedy work.[citation needed]

In June 1968, Billboard reported that Cosby had turned down a five-year, US$3.5 million contract renewal offer and would leave the label in August that year to record for his own record label.[23]

Tetragrammaton Records was a division of the Campbell, Silver, Cosby (CSC) Corporation, the Los Angeles-based production company founded by Cosby, his manager Roy Silver, and filmmaker Bruce Post Campbell. It produced films as well as records, including Cosby's television specials, the Fat Albert cartoon special and series and several motion pictures. CSC hired Artie Mogull as President of the label and Tetragrammaton was fairly active during 1968–69 (its most successful signing was British heavy rock band Deep Purple) but it quickly went into the red and ceased trading during 1970.[24]

Fat Albert, The Bill Cosby Show, and the 1970s

Cosby in 1969

Cosby pursued a variety of additional television projects and appeared as a regular guest host on The Tonight Show and as the star of an annual special for NBC. He returned with another series in 1969, The Bill Cosby Show, a situation comedy that ran for two seasons. Cosby played a physical education teacher at a Los Angeles high school. While only a modest critical success, the show was a ratings hit, finishing eleventh in its first season. Cosby was lauded for using African-American performers such as Lillian Randolph, Moms Mabley, and Rex Ingram as characters. According to commentary on the Season 1 DVD's for the show, Cosby was at odds with NBC over his refusal to include a laugh track in the show (he felt that viewers had the ability to find humor for themselves when watching a TV show). He was originally contracted with NBC to do the show for two seasons, and he believes the show was not renewed afterwards for that reason.[citation needed]

After The Bill Cosby Show left the air, Cosby returned to his education. He began graduate work at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. For the PBS series The Electric Company, Cosby recorded several segments teaching reading skills to young children.[citation needed]

In 1972, Cosby received an MA from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was also back in prime time with a variety series, The New Bill Cosby Show. However, this time he met with poor ratings, and the show lasted only a season. More successful was a Saturday morning show, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, hosted by Cosby and based on his own childhood. That series ran from 1972 to 1979, and as The New Fat Albert Show in 1979 and The Adventures of Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids in 1984.[citation needed] Some schools used the program as a teaching tool,[citation needed] and Cosby himself wrote a dissertation on it, "An Integration of the Visual Media Via 'Fat Albert And The Cosby Kids' Into the Elementary School Curriculum as a Teaching Aid and Vehicle to Achieve Increased Learning", as partial fulfillment of obtaining his 1976 doctorate in education, also from the University of Massachusetts.[9][25] Subsequently, Temple University, where Cosby had begun but never finished his undergraduate studies, would grant him his bachelor's degree on the basis of "life experience."[26]

Also during the 1970s, Cosby and other African-American actors, including Sidney Poitier, joined forces to make some successful comedy films that countered the violent "blaxploitation" films of the era. Uptown Saturday Night (1974) and Let's Do It Again (1975) were generally praised, but much of Cosby's film work has fallen flat. Mother, Jugs & Speed (1976), costarring Raquel Welch and Harvey Keitel; A Piece of the Action, with Poitier; and California Suite, a compilation of four Neil Simon plays, were all panned. In addition, Cos (1976) an hour-long variety show featuring puppets, sketches, and musical numbers, was canceled within the year. It was during this season that ABC decided to take advantage of this phase of Cosby's career by associating with Filmation (producers of Fat Albert) in creating live-action segments starring Cosby for the 1964/1971 animated film Journey Back to Oz, which made its network premiere on Christmas 1976, and aired subsequently in syndication. Cosby was also a regular on children's public television programs starting in the 1970s, hosting the "Picture Pages" segments that lasted into the early 1980s.[citation needed]

The Cosby Show and the 1980s

Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame awarded in 1977[27]

Cosby's greatest television success came in September 1984 with the debut of The Cosby Show. The program aired weekly on NBC and went on to become the highest ranking sitcom of all time.[citation needed] For Cosby, the new situation comedy was a response to the increasingly violent and vulgar fare the networks usually offered.[citation needed] Cosby is an advocate for humor that is family-oriented. While working on The Cosby Show he held creative control, co-produced the series and involved himself in every aspect of production. Plots were often based on ideas that Cosby suggested while in meetings with the writing staff.[28] The show had parallels to Cosby's actual family life: like the characters Cliff and Claire Huxtable, Cosby and his wife Camille were college educated, financially successful, and had five children. Essentially a throwback to the wholesome family situation comedy, The Cosby Show was unprecedented in its portrayal of an intelligent, affluent, African-American family.[citation needed]

Much of the material from the pilot and first season of The Cosby Show was taken from his video Bill Cosby: Himself, released in 1983. The series was an immediate success, debuting near the top of the ratings and staying there for most of its long run. The Cosby Show is one of only three American programs that have been #1 in the Nielsen ratings for at least five consecutive seasons, along with All in the Family and American Idol. People magazine called the show "revolutionary",[citation needed] and Newsday concurred that it was a "real breakthrough."[citation needed]

In 1987, Cosby attempted to return to film with the spy spoof Leonard Part 6. Although Cosby himself was producer and wrote the story, he realized during production that the film was not going to be what he wanted and publicly denounced it, warning audiences to stay away.[29] Cosby even went so far as to personally collect the Golden Raspberry Awards the film received on Joan Rivers' late-night talk show.[citation needed]

1990s and 2000s

Cosby, a production assistant, and Ginna Marston of Partnership for Drug-Free Kids review the script for a 1990 public service spot at Cosby's studio in Astoria, Queens.

After The Cosby Show went off the air in 1992, Cosby embarked on a number of other projects, including a revival of the classic Groucho Marx game show You Bet Your Life (1992–93) along with the TV-movie I Spy Returns (1994) and The Cosby Mysteries (1994). In the mid-1990s, he appeared as a detective in black-and-white film noir-themed commercials for Turner Classic Movies. He made appearances in three more films: Ghost Dad (1990), The Meteor Man (1993), and Jack (1996). In addition, he was interviewed in Spike Lee's 4 Little Girls (1997), a documentary about the 1963 racist bombing of a church in Birmingham, Alabama.[citation needed]

Also in 1996, he started up a new show for CBS, Cosby, again co-starring Phylicia Rashād, his onscreen wife on The Cosby Show. Cosby co-produced the show for Carsey-Werner Productions. The show was based on the British program One Foot in the Grave.[citation needed] It centered on Cosby as Hilton Lucas, an iconoclastic senior citizen who tries to find a new job after being downsized and, in the meantime, gets on his wife's nerves. Madeline Kahn costarred as Rashād's goofy business partner Pauline. Cosby was hired by CBS to be the official spokesman of the WWJ-TV during an advertising campaign from 1995 to 1998. Cosby hosted a CBS special, Kids Say the Darndest Things on February 6, 1995, which was followed after as a full season show, with Cosby as host, from January 9, 1998 to June 23, 2000.[30]

After four seasons, Cosby was canceled. Its last episode aired April 28, 2000. Kids Say the Darndest Things was terminated the same year, and Cosby continued to work with CBS through a development deal and other projects.[citation needed]

A series for preschoolers, Little Bill, made its debut on Nickelodeon in 1999.[31] The network renewed the popular program in November 2000. In 2001, Cosby's agenda included the publication of a new book, as well as delivering the commencement addresses at Morris Brown College,[32] Ohio State University,[33] and at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.[34] Also that year, he signed a deal with 20th Century Fox to develop a live-action feature film centering on the popular Fat Albert character from his 1970s cartoon series. Fat Albert was released in theaters in December 2004. In May 2007 he spoke at the commencement of High Point University.[35]

In the summer of 2009, Cosby hosted a comedy gala at Montreal's Just for Laughs, which is the largest comedy festival in the world.[36]

2010s

A new NBC show, scheduled for summer or autumn 2015, created by Mike O'Malley and Mike Sikowitz and to have been produced by The Cosby Show's Tom Werner, was set to feature Cosby as Jonathan Franklin, the patriarch of a multi-generational family.[37] On November 19, 2014, NBC scrapped Cosby's new show after accusations that he sexually assaulted women resurfaced.[38]

Sexual assault allegations

Cosby has been accused of drug facilitated sexual assault by over 40 women, although he has denied any wrongdoing and has not been charged with any crime.[39][40][41] The dates of the alleged assaults span from 1965 to 2008.[41][42][43] Cosby has declined to publicly discuss the accusations in past interviews offering no comment.[44] He told Florida Today, "people shouldn’t have to go through that and shouldn’t answer to innuendos."[44] In May 2015 he said, "I have been in this business 52 years and I've never seen anything like this. Reality is a situation and I can't speak."[45]

Early allegations and investigation

In January 2000, then 20-year-old actress Lachele Covington, who had played a waitress on Cosby, alleged he had groped her, but the district attorney's office "decided no crime had been committed".[46][47][48] In January 2004, Andrea Constand, a former Temple University employee, accused him of drugging and fondling her; however, in February 2005, Montgomery County's District Attorney said there would be no charges due to "insufficient credible and admissible evidence".[49] Constand filed a civil claim in March 2005, with 13 women as potential witnesses if the case went to court.[50][51] Cosby settled out of court for an undisclosed amount in November 2006.[50] After learning that charges were not pursued in the case, California lawyer Tamara Lucier Green, the only publicly named woman in the prior case, came forward with allegations in February 2005 that Cosby had drugged and assaulted her in the 1970s.[48][52][53] His lawyer said that Cosby did not know her and the events did not happen.[54] In a July 2005 Philadelphia Daily News interview, Beth Ferrier, one of the anonymous "Jane Doe" witnesses in the Constand case, alleged that in 1984 he drugged her coffee and she awoke with her clothes partially removed.[55]

Buress remarks and aftermath

In October 2014, comedian Hannibal Buress' routine criticized Cosby for "talk[ing] down" to young black men about their mode of dress and lifestyle, while, according to Burress, "you rape women".[56] The accusation went viral after being posted on Philadelphia magazines's website. This resulted in media coverage of previous accusations, and may have contributed to more claimants publicly accusing Cosby.[57][56][58]

New allegations

In November 2014, journalist Joan Tarshis,[59] model Janice Dickinson,[60] actress Louisa Moritz,[61] Carla Ferrigno,[61] Florida nurse Therese Serignese,[62] Playboy Playmates Victoria Valentino,[63] Sarita Butterfield,[64] TV host Charlotte Laws[65] actress Michelle Hurd,[41] and 11 other women[41] also made accusations of incidents allegedly occurring between 1965 and 2004.[66] His attorney stated that Dickinson's account differed from prior accounts she gave of the incident, and released a statement that said in part: "Mr. Cosby does not intend to dignify these allegations with any comment."[67] A follow-up statement dismissed the allegations as "unsubstantiated" and an example of "media vilification".[68] A joint statement from Cosby and Andrea Constand, who had received a civil case settlement in 2006, clarified the statement released a few days prior by stating that it did not refer to Constand's case which was resolved years ago.[69] An article by model Beverly Johnson in Vanity Fair alleges she was drugged during an audition in 1986, and knows other women with similar accounts.[70] In January 2015, Cindra Ladd alleged that Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her in 1969.[71]

In May 2015, Lili Bernard claimed that Cosby sexually assaulted her in 1992 and that she had been interviewed by police in Atlantic City, New Jersey regarding the allegation. Because that state has no statute of limitations for rape, Bernard hoped charges will be brought, but media reports noted, "it wasn't clear ... if what [Bernard] says happened to her happened in New Jersey."[72][73]

Institutions sever ties

The Camille O. and William H. Cosby Mass Communication Telecommunication Center at Central State University before (above) and after (below) Cosby's 2005 court deposition was made public.[74]

On November 17, 2014, Netflix postponed a Cosby stand-up comedy special after accusations surfaced that Cosby had sexually assaulted Janice Dickinson in 1982.[75]

Two days later, on November 19, 2014, TV Land and NBC both ended their relationships with Cosby: TV Land announced that it was pulling reruns of The Cosby Show from its schedule and also removed clips of the show from its website,[76] while NBC scrapped its plans to develop a brand new sitcom starring Cosby.[77]

Also in November 2014, colleges and universities with ties to Cosby began removing their affiliations with him. The University of Massachusetts Amherst, one of Cosby's alma maters, asked Cosby to step down as an honorary co-chairman of the university's fundraising campaign. The Berklee College of Music, which had previously awarded Cosby with an honorary degree, got rid of a scholarship that it offered in Cosby's name. High Point University in North Carolina also pulled Cosby from its advisory board, and Freed-Hardeman University rescinded its invitation for Cosby to appear at an annual dinner in December.[78]

On December 4, 2014, the United States Navy took the rare step of revoking Cosby's honorary title of Chief Petty Officer, which he had received in 2011. The Navy released a statement saying the "allegations against Mr. Cosby are very serious and are in conflict with the Navy's core values of honor, courage and commitment."[77][79][80]

In December 2014 amid pressure to cut long-term ties with Temple University, Cosby resigned from the board of trustees.[81]

On December 14, 2014, Spelman College indefinitely suspended its "Camille Olivia Hanks Cosby Endowed Professorship," named after Bill Cosby's wife.[82] The college said it would restore the endowed professorship when its "original goals can again be met," but after Cosby's 2005 deposition became public in July 2015, Spelman discontinued the professorship entirely.[83]

By the end of 2014, talent agency CAA dropped Cosby as a client, leaving him without a Hollywood agent.[84]

In July 2015, after unsealed depositions revealed Cosby admitting to giving drugs to women for sex, broadcast network Bounce TV pulled reruns of the short-lived 1990s sitcom Cosby (which it had only begun airing in January, right in the middle of the Cosby controversy), and cable channel Centric stopped airing reruns of The Cosby Show. These were the last two networks still airing TV shows starring Cosby.[85]

Also in July 2015, Central State University officials placed tape over the sign outside its Camille O. and William H. Cosby Mass Communications Center so that Cosby's name is no longer visible. A decision on whether or not to officially change the name of the building will be made in September.[86]

On July 7, 2015, Walt Disney World removed a statue of Bill Cosby that had been featured as part of the Hollywood Studios park's "Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame Plaza."[87]

On July 20, 2015, it was announced that Cosby would no longer appear in the upcoming documentary Painted Down, about the history of African American stuntmen in film and TV. Cosby is credited with helping to create the Black Stuntmen's Association in 1967. Producer Nonie Robinson claimed, "We were the last project standing behind him" but said that pulling him from the documentary was "the right thing to do in light of the recent court deposition being made public." At the same time, The Black Stuntmen's Association removed a tribute to Cosby on its website.[88]

On July 23, 2015, Simon & Schuster confirmed to the Associated Press that it would not be releasing a paperback version of the Cosby-approved 2014 biography Cosby: His Life and Times, which gained criticism for not addressing the then-few public sexual assault allegations against Cosby.[89] The publisher also pulled celebrity endorsements for the book after David Letterman and Jerry Seinfeld reportedly asked to distance themselves from the biography.[90]

On July 23, 2015, According to the Philadelphia Citypaper, A mural depicting Cosby which was scheduled for removal, was accelerated in light of the controversy surrounding Cosby. It was painted over after being defaced with graffiti reading “rapist” and “dude with ludes,” referencing the recently unsealed 2005 deposition in which the comedian admitted to obtaining Quaaludes to give to women with the intention of having sex with them. The Mural Arts Program was already intending to remove the “Father’s Day” mural, which also featured Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, but rapidly accelerated the removal due to pressure.[91]

Civil records unsealed

In July 2015, the Associated Press obtained court records from Andrea Constand's 2005 civil lawsuit that was settled out of court. In a deposition, Cosby testified he obtained Quaaludes from gynecologist Leroy Amar, who knew that Cosby had no intention of taking the drugs himself. Cosby instead intended to give them to women he wanted to have sexual relations with and admitted that he had given the drug to at least one woman and other people. Cosby admitted knowing it was illegal at the time to dispense the drug to other people. Amar would later have his medical license revoked in California and New York.[92][93] The judge ruled that releasing the sealed document was justified by Cosby's role as a "public moralist" in contrast to his possible criminal private behavior.[94] On July 18, 2015 The New York Times, having obtained the complete deposition from a court reporting service, hired by Constand, that had released the document to the public domain,[95] published a summary and excerpts. Cosby's testimony shows a history of casual sex involving use of Quaaludes with a series of young women.[96] Throughout his testimony, Cosby maintained that any drug use or sex was consensual.[94][95]

Two people who have previously defended Cosby, and believed in his innocence, changed their minds; American actress and talk show host Whoopi Goldberg and Joseph C. Phillips (a Cosby Show regular for three years) each made public statements on July 15, 2015; Goldberg, for the first time, suggested Cosby may be guilty,[97] while Phillips was more forthright, saying "Of course Bill Cosby is guilty!"[98]

Also on July 15, 2015, President Barack Obama was asked at a news conference if Bill Cosby’s Medal of Freedom award (which Cosby received from President George W. Bush in 2002) would be revoked. President Obama responded by stating:

"there's no precedent for revoking a medal. We don't have that mechanism. And as you know I tend to make it a policy not to comment on the specifics of cases where there might still be, if not criminal then civil, issues involved. [long pause] I'll say this, if you give a woman, or a man for that matter, without his or her knowledge, a drug, and then have sex with that person without consent, that's rape. And I think this country, any civilized country, should have no tolerance for rape."[99]

Lawsuits

In December 2014, Judy Huth filed a lawsuit alleging sexual assault in 1974 at the Playboy Mansion when she was 15 years old.[100]

Seventeen of the accusers have been represented by attorney Gloria Allred.[40][72][101][102] People noted "no civil lawsuits based on the allegations are currently pending due to the statute of limitations in the various jurisdictions in which they have been made."[102]

As of July 2015 there are two lawsuits; Judith Huth's from an alleged 1974 incident that is still under consideration with the California Supreme Court, and a defamation suit from Janice Dickinson, adjoined by Tamara Green and Therese Serignese,[103] whose case is considered bolstered by the revelation as it supports what many of the accusers have stated.[3]

On July 21, 2015, Cosby filed legal papers against Andrea Constand claiming she had breached the confidentiality agreement in their 2005 out of court settlement. Cosby's filing stressed that none of the testimony so far unsealed by a judge states that he engaged in non-consensual sex or gave anyone Quaaludes without their knowledge or consent. "Reading the media accounts, one would conclude that the Defendant has admitted to rape," the document said. "And yet the Defendant admitted to nothing more than being one of the many people who introduced Quaaludes into their consensual sex life in the 1970s". Cosby's lawyers further contended that a court reporting service hired by Constand had released the 2005 court transcript to the New York Times, days earlier, in a 'massive breach of protocol'. The court reporters' code of ethics prohibits the release of testimony without all parties first being contacted.[104][105]

Accusers' responses

On July 27, 2015, New York magazine's cover featured images of 35 women who told "their stories about being assaulted by Bill Cosby, and the culture that wouldn’t listen." Eleven other woman known to New York magazine who allege sexual assault by Cosby declined to be photographed and interviewed for the feature.[106] According to Vox, the stories span "more than five decades" and are "remarkably similar, typically involving the comedian offering a woman a cup of coffee or some sort of alcoholic beverage — which may be spiked with drugs — and allegedly sexually assaulting the victim as she's impaired or unconscious."[107]

Sexual drugging jokes

In Cosby's 1969 comedy album It's True! It's True!, he talks of his obsession with "Spanish fly" and jokes about slipping the aphrodisiac into unsuspecting women's drinks.[108][109][110] In a 1991 interview with Larry King, Cosby made jokes about drugging women with Spanish fly by dropping it into their drinks so they would then want to have sex with him.[111] In his 1992 book Childhood, Cosby devotes an entire chapter to Spanish fly, and discusses how to give it to a woman: "You got to slip it to her when she thinks she's drinkin' something else." He also mentions how to know if she has too much: "Soon as her clothes come off, that's enough."[112][113]

On January 8, 2015, in a stand up routine by Cosby at Budweiser Gardens in London, Ontario, he quipped, "You have to be careful about drinking around me," to a woman in the front row who reportedly was exiting to get a beverage and offered to grab him one. MSNBC and National Post journalists read Cosby's joke as a reference to the drugging and sexual assault allegations against him.[114][115]

Political views

In May 2004, after receiving an award at the celebration of the 50th anniversary commemoration of the Brown v. Board of Education ruling—a ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court that outlawed racial segregation in schools—Cosby made public remarks critical of African Americans who put higher priorities on sports, fashion, and "acting hard" than on education, self-respect, and self-improvement, pleading for African-American families to educate their children on the many different aspects of American culture.[116][117]

In the "Pound Cake" speech, Cosby asked that African-American parents teach their children better morals at a younger age. As reported in The Washington Times, Cosby "told reporters during a special session of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 34th annual legislative conference" that "Parenting needs to come to the forefront. If you need help and you don't know how to parent, we want to be able to reach out and touch you."[118] Richard Leiby of The Washington Post reported, "Bill Cosby was anything but politically correct in his remarks Monday night at a Constitution Hall bash commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision."[119]

Cosby again came under sharp criticism and was again largely unapologetic for his stance when he made similar remarks during a speech in a July 1 meeting commemorating the anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education. During that speech, he admonished apathetic blacks for not assisting or concerning themselves with the individuals who are involved with crime or have counter-productive aspirations. He further described those who needed attention as blacks who "had forgotten the sacrifices of those in the Civil Rights Movement."[120]

In 2005, Georgetown University sociology professor Michael Eric Dyson wrote a book, Is Bill Cosby Right? Or Has the Black Middle Class Lost Its Mind?.[121] In the book, Dyson wrote that Cosby was overlooking larger social factors that reinforce poverty and associated crime; factors such as deteriorating schools, stagnating wages, dramatic shifts in the economy, offshoring and downsizing, chronic underemployment, and job and capital flight.[122] Dyson suggested that Cosby's comments "betray classist, elitist viewpoints rooted in generational warfare."[121]

Cornel West defended Cosby and his remarks, saying, "he's speaking out of great compassion and trying to get folk to get on the right track, 'cause we've got some brothers and sisters who are not doing the right things, just like in times in our own lives, we don't do the right thing... He is trying to speak honestly and freely and lovingly, and I think that's a very positive thing."[123]

In a 2008 interview, Cosby mentioned Atlanta, Georgia; Chicago, Illinois; Detroit, Michigan; Oakland, California; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Springfield, Massachusetts among the cities where crime was high and young African-American men were being murdered and jailed in disproportionate numbers. Cosby stood his ground against criticism and affirmed that African-American parents were continuing to fail to inculcate proper standards of moral behavior.[124] Cosby still lectures to black communities (usually at churches) about his frustrations with certain problems prevalent in underprivileged urban communities, such as illegal drugs; teenage pregnancy; Black Entertainment Television; high-school dropouts; anti-intellectualism; gangsta rap; vulgarity; thievery; offensive clothing; vanity; parental alienation; single-parenting; and failing to live up to the ideals of Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King, Jr., and African-Americans who preceded Generation X.

Cosby has also been openly critical of conservative Republican politicians in regards to their views on socioeconomic and racial issues. In a 2013 CNN interview regarding voting rights, Cosby stated "this Republican Party is not the Republican Party of 1863, of Abraham Lincoln, abolitionists and slavery, is not good. I think it's important for us to look at the underlying part of it. What is the value of it? Is it that some people are angry because my people no longer want to work for free?"[125]

Personal life

Cosby married Camille Olivia Hanks on January 25, 1964. Together, they have had five children, Erika, Erinn, Ensa, Evin, and Ennis. Their only son, Ennis, was murdered on January 16, 1997, while changing a flat tire on the side of Interstate 405 in Los Angeles. The Cosbys have three grandchildren.[5][126]

Cosby is a Protestant.[127] He maintains homes in Shelburne, Massachusetts and Cheltenham, Pennsylvania.[128]

Cosby has hosted the Los Angeles Playboy Jazz Festival since 1979. Known as a jazz drummer, he can also be seen playing bass guitar with Jerry Lewis and Sammy Davis, Jr. on Hugh Hefner's 1970s talk show. His story, "The Regular Way", was featured in Playboy‍ '​s December 1968 issue.[129] Cosby has become an active member of The Jazz Foundation of America.[130] Cosby became involved with the foundation in 2004. For several years, he has been a featured host for its annual benefit, A Great Night in Harlem, at the Apollo Theater in New York City.[131][132] Cosby has stated, many times in his stand up shows, that "kids these days don't know what the jazz is all about".

Cosby is an alumnus supporter of his alma mater, Temple University, particularly its men's basketball team, whose games Cosby frequently attends. He is also a member of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity; he was initiated in the fraternity's Beta Alpha Alpha graduate chapter in White Plains, New York, in 1988.[133]

Shawn Upshaw paternity lawsuit

In July 1997, Cosby testified that he made private payments to Shawn Upshaw, a woman who had briefly been his lover in Las Vegas during the early 1970s. Upshaw later told Cosby that he was the father of her daughter, Autumn Jackson. Cosby denies being the father and said that he gave Upshaw a total of about $100,000 because he did not want her to publicly reveal the affair.[134] Twenty-two-year-old Autumn Jackson was sentenced to 26 months in jail for trying to extort US$40 million from Cosby. In the trial and subsequent appeal, the courts held that Jackson's belief that she was Cosby's child—even if sincere—was irrelevant to the question of her guilt. The courts stated that the mere fact that she was Cosby's child would not have entitled her to the $40 million she demanded, and therefore the demand was extortionate, whether or not she believed herself to be Cosby's daughter.[135] Although both Jackson and Cosby stated at various times that they were willing to undergo DNA testing to determine Jackson's paternity, the two sides never reached an agreement as to when and how to perform the test. After Jackson's conviction, Cosby provided a blood sample for testing, but Jackson refused to participate until after her sentencing.[136][137]

Works

Discography

Comedy albums

Music albums

Compilations

Singles

Year Single Chart Positions
US US R&B
1967 "Little Ol' Man (Uptight—Everything's Alright)" 4 18
1970 "Grover Henson Feels Forgotten" 70
1976 "I Luv Myself Better Than I Luv Myself" 59
"Yes, Yes, Yes" 46 11

Filmography

Year Title Role Notes
1965-1968 I Spy Alexander Scott TV series
1969 Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice Patron at nightclub (uncredited)
1969 Hey, Hey, Hey, It's Fat Albert Bill / Fat Albert / Dumb Donald (voice) TV movie
1969-1971 The Bill Cosby Show Chet Kincaid TV series
1971-1973 The Electric Company Hank TV series
1971 Man and Boy Caleb Revers TV movie
1971 Aesop's Fables Aesop
1972 The New Bill Cosby Show Host TV series
1972-1985 Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids "Fat" Albert Jackson (voice) TV series
1972 To All My Friends on Shore Blue TV movie
1972 Hickey & Boggs Al Hickey
1974 Uptown Saturday Night Wardell Franklin
1974 Journey Back to Oz The Wizard of Oz TV version only
1975 Let's Do It Again Billy Foster
1976 Cos Host TV series
1976 Mother, Jugs & Speed Mother
1977 A Piece of the Action Dave Anderson
1978 Top Secret Aaron Strickland TV movie
1978 California Suite Dr. Willis Panama
1981 The Devil and Max Devlin Barney Satin
1984-1992 The Cosby Show Dr. Heathcliff "Cliff" Huxtable TV series
1987 Leonard Part 6 Leonard Parker
1987 Bill Cosby:49 Himself Live comedy concert film released on VHS
1987 A Different World Dr. Heathcliff "Cliff" Huxtable TV series
1990 Ghost Dad Elliot Hopper
1992-1993 You Bet Your Life Host TV series
1993 The Meteor Man Marvin
1994 The Cosby Mysteries Guy Hanks TV movie
1994-1995 The Cosby Mysteries Guy Hanks TV series
1994 I Spy Returns Alexander Scott TV movie
1996 Jack Lawrence Woodruff
1996-2000 Cosby Hilton Lucas TV series
1998-2000 Kids Say the Darndest Things Host TV series
1999-2004 Little Bill Captain Brainstorm (voice) TV series
2002 Sylvia's Path Voice TV movie
2003 Baadasssss! Himself
2004 Fat Albert Himself
2009-2011 OBKB Himself
2014 Bill Cosby 77 Himself

Books

Awards and honors

Emmys

Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Dramatic Series – Primetime Emmys
1966 I Spy – Alexander Scott
1967 I Spy – Alexander Scott
1968 I Spy – Alexander Scott

Outstanding Variety Or Musical Program – Primetime Emmys
1969 The Bill Cosby Special

Grammys

Best Comedy PerformanceGrammy Awards
1965 I Started Out as a Child
1966 Why Is There Air?
1967 Wonderfulness
1968 Revenge
1969 To Russell, My Brother, Whom I Slept With
1970 Sports
1987 Those of You with or Without Children, You'll Understand

Best Recording for Children – Grammy Awards
1972 Bill Cosby Talks to Kids About Drugs
1971 The Electric Company – Cast member

Honorary degrees

Cosby has received honorary degrees from more than a dozen colleges and universities:

See also

References

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  159. ^ "Commencement: Speakers Since 1938". University of Pennsylvania. Retrieved September 19, 2009. 

General references

  • DeBose, Brian (September 9, 2004). "Cosby urges leaders to aid black families". The Washington Times. Archived from the original on December 9, 2007. Retrieved November 4, 2007. 
  • Leiby, Richard. "Publications with a Cannes-Do Attitude." Washington Post. May 19, 2004: 3.
  • Morano, Marc. "Bill Cosby was hounded by President Nixon." World Entertainment News Network. May 1, 2000. March 2, 2006. www.imdb.com
  • "Segregated Expectations" USA Today. May 15, 2003: 12.
  • Wu, Frank H. "Brown at 50: Keeping Promises." Black Issues in Higher Education. May 20, 2004: 49
  • "Biography — William Henry "Bill" Cosby Jr.". Biographies in Naval History. Naval Historical Center, Department of the Navy. June 22, 2006. Archived from the original on October 26, 2007. Retrieved November 4, 2007. 

External links

Further reading