Cliff Huxtable

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Cliff Huxtable
The Cosby Show character
First appearance"Pilot"
Last appearance"And So We Commence"
Created byBill Cosby
Portrayed byBill Cosby
In-universe information
Full nameHeathcliff Huxtable
FamilyRussell Huxtable (father)
Anna Huxtable (mother)
James Theodore Huxtable (brother; deceased)
Harriet McCutcheon (paternal great-aunt)
SpouseClair Huxtable
ChildrenSondra Huxtable
Denise Huxtable
Theodore Huxtable
Vanessa Huxtable
Rudy Huxtable

Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable is a fictional character on the NBC sitcom, The Cosby Show. He was portrayed by Bill Cosby.

Conception and development[edit]

Cosby originally proposed that the couple should both have blue-collar jobs, with the father a limousine driver,[1] who owned his own car, and the mother an electrician[2] but, with advice from his wife, Camille Cosby, the concept was changed so that the family was well-off financially, with the mother a lawyer and the father a doctor.[3][4]


Dr. Heathcliff "Cliff" Huxtable is known for his comical antics, playful admonishments, and relentless teasing humor. He lives in Brooklyn Heights, New York. He was born in October 1937 in Philadelphia, making him 47 years old at the beginning of the series. Cliff had a brother, James Theodore Huxtable, who died of rheumatic fever at the age of 7. In his high school and college years, he was an athlete who wrestled, played football, and ran track. He later served in the U.S. Navy before going to medical school. He is an OB/GYN who runs a practice from the office annexed to his home. In the show, most characters outside of family and friends refer to him as "Dr. Huxtable", and he is well-respected in the community.

Cliff is married to Clair Huxtable. Both Cliff and Clair attended the fictional historically black college Hillman College. Together, they have five children: Sondra, Denise, Theodore (Theo), Vanessa, and Rudith (Rudy). Cliff enjoys live jazz, has an extensive collection of albums, and tries to eat junk food whenever he can get away with it. He attended Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee. Cliff is very eccentric and silly to most people around him, especially his family, however he is very kind-hearted and an extremely dedicated father with a strong sense of humor. Although he and his wife fostered a tight-knit, loving family, a running gag throughout the series is his thwarted attempts to get the grown children to leave the house. Even when he succeeded at this, more issues would come, such as Sondra finally leaving to marry her husband Elvin, only to move into a squalid tenement (albeit with Cliff's full support as he and Clair struggled in the early years of their marriage), or Denise eloping with a Navy officer with a child from a prior marriage, and Cliff now acclimating to a blended family.

Very playful, Cliff enjoys competition, often making bets with Clair over various things, such as the date a certain jazz song was released, or having a "Smooth Contest" to see which of them looked more elegant for a night on the town, as judged by the children. He also plays a monthly game of pinochle against his father and some friends, which sometimes gets very passionate. Unfortunately, Cliff often finds himself on the losing end of most of his bets and games, as, for example, he has never beaten his father-in-law at chess. However, Cliff eventually broke his losing streak at pinochle against his father and his friend Homer Dobson with the help of Dr. Foster (portrayed by Roscoe Lee Brown), an expert pinochle player who also happened to be his and Clair's literary professor at Hillman College.

In the first episode, Cliff's first name was Clifford, but later was changed to Heathcliff. However, in one episode, Clair calls him "Heathclifford".


Bill Cosby's role as Cliff Huxtable has had a mostly positive reception from critics.[5][6][7][8][9][10]


  1. ^ McNeil, Alex (1996). Total Television: The Comprehensive Guide to Programming from 1948 to the Present. Penguin Group USA. p. 181. ISBN 978-0-14-024916-3. Retrieved August 5, 2013.
  2. ^ Interview with Bill Cosby, Forum, KQED, broadcast July 23, 2014
  3. ^ Cashmore, Ellis (August 2, 2012). Beyond Black: Celebrity and Race in Obama's America. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 61. ISBN 978-1-78093-147-0. Retrieved August 5, 2013.
  4. ^ Pope, Kitty (2005). Beside Every Great Man-- is a Great Woman: African American Women of Courage, Intellect, Strength, Beauty & Perseverance. Amber Books Publishing. p. 70. ISBN 978-0-9749779-4-2. Retrieved August 5, 2013.
  5. ^ "IGN's Top 10 Favorite TV Couples". IGN. Retrieved 2015-03-25.
  6. ^ Gray, Herman (2004). Watching Race: Television and the Struggle for Blackness - Herman Gray - Google Books. ISBN 9780816645107. Retrieved 2015-03-25.
  7. ^ "Harris Polls > Maybe It's the Sweaters; Cliff Huxtable is the TV Dad Americans Would Have Wanted Growing Up". Harris Interactive. 2011-06-13. Archived from the original on 2015-07-20. Retrieved 2015-03-25.
  8. ^ Women Watching Television: Gender, Class, and Generation in the American ... - Andrea L. Press - Google Books. Andrea L. Press. March 1991. ISBN 9780812212860. Retrieved 2015-03-11.
  9. ^ Neal, Mark Anthony (2013-02-01). Soul Babies: Black Popular Culture and the Post-Soul Aesthetic - Mark Anthony Neal - Google Books. ISBN 9781135290559. Retrieved 2015-03-25.
  10. ^ Ashby, Leroy (2006-05-12). With Amusement for All: A History of American Popular Culture Since 1830 - LeRoy Ashby - Google Books. ISBN 978-0813171326. Retrieved 2015-03-25.