Like many people my age, I grew up watching Bill Cosby on TV and buying his records. He was talking about family experiences in a way we’d never heard before; we’d listen over and over. Cosby never needed words “nice people” shouldn’t say.
On television, Bill Cosby was partnered with Robert Culp in the series “I Spy” and I loved both the leads. (At the time, Cosby was, I believe, the first Black co-star in an action TV series. By the way, we didn’t change channels much in those days; we watched entire shows, commercials included!)
When I was first out on my own, my second apartment in Chicago was on North State Parkway. It was a small place, but it was across the street from Hugh Hefner’s Chicago mansion. On nights when boxing matches were being held, lots of limousines would pull up to the mansion. At the time, Hefner had one of the few closed circuit television feeds in the nation. I heard then that Bill Cosby would come to the mansion. I remember thinking that was somewhat unusual, but O.K., Bill Cosby was rich and famous, and maybe he liked boxing.
Time passes. The Cosby Show was on television and everybody liked the show. I occasionally watched. Bill Cosby was on the Tonight Show … and sometimes he was host — always funny. Then there were the Jello commercials — so cute, and of course, Jello was good for everybody, right? Especially children. I frankly loved those commercials and can still see that cute face Cosby made when tasting Jello.
Still more time passes. I’m in Las Vegas and I read that Bill Cosby was appearing at Treasure Island. I wanted to go see him, in spite of the fact that at the time Cosby must have been in his 70s; my husband wasn’t interested, so in a rather rare stab at independence, I bought my own ticket and went to the show. (My husband drove me and picked me up.) Sitting next to me were two young women. I asked one of them why they had come to the show; my thought was that Cosby would have an older audience, yet the audience was quite mixed in ages. She told me she had grown up with The Cosby Show on TV; that’s how she had become a fan. Of course.
Cosby was indeed older; instead of a slick dark suit, he was dressed as if he were about to go jogging. AND he was remarkable. He started slowly but eventually got to telling a story about his younger self in high school trying to get the attention of one particular girl. This old man convinced us he was 16 years old, in love and making all the wrong moves. We laughed and laughed, and I was amazed: he still “had it”. The audience erupted in a spontaneous standing ovation. I made sure my husband knew what he had missed.
And now Thursday’s news ….a conviction of an even older Bill Cosby …. for deeds most people think are unforgivable. Yes, we know that women should “know better” when it comes to spending alone time in a man’s hotel room AND for heaven’s sake, they should say “no” when offered unknown pills. Nonetheless, Cosby misbehaved, when frankly, his popularity was such that most folks believe he could have had plenty of companionship without doping.
As I noted when writing about Steve Wynn, “How could you, Bill Cosby?” You not only embarrassed yourself as a husband, father, entertainer, educator and mentor; you also disappointed your fans…alot.