November 18, 2014 by gregrabidoux2013
Bill Cosby has been called “One of the 100 Greatest African-Americans” of all time. If, there is truly such a thing as a “Living Legend,” then he is it. He broke color barriers in television in the early 1960s starring alongside Robert Culp in the comedy-drama “I Spy” ( I love the fact they played touring tennis professionals!).
He broke sales records with his early comedy albums (“Bill Cosby is a very funny fellow…Right!”), wrote best-selling children’s books, created memorable characters in animated cartoons (“Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids”) and helped change forever, how mainstream, White television viewers saw African-American father figures in “The Cosby Show-1984-1992.” His portrayal of the affluent, wise and gruff around the edges, Dr. Huxtable was an African-American role-model for generations of kids of color.
Recently, he co-created the character and animated show “Little Bill” for Nickelodeon which has won awards for its teaching of morals and life-lessons to kids of all ages and backgrounds. His commercials with children and the funny things they say and do while promoting “Jell-O” brand gelatin foods has made millions for Cosby and Jell-O.
And yet, somehow, despite all of his fame, his millions, his creative and comedic genius, his place in African-American and for that matter, American entertainment and cultural history he is right now at risk for being remembered for being something else altogether.
It’s a sobriquet, a title, that unlike his earned doctoral degree in children’s studies, is nearly unfathomable to conceive of him earning. To anyone age 55 or over it is inconceivable that the same man who starred on TV, who hosted the “Kids Say the Darndest Things” who made them laugh for decades could do such a thing.
And, if his accusers, who seem to be multiplying by the day, are to be believed, he didn’t just do “it” once or even twice. If you believe his accusers, Bill Cosby, born William Henry Cosby Jr., on July 12th in 1937 is a serial rapist and sexual molester.
Over the years, the accusations, at times soft as a whisper, at other times public accusations that were settled out of court, are nothing new. It has long been known that Mr. Cosby and his wife had a number of bumpy roads over the years and Cosby, affectionately known by his friends as “the Coz,” played the field.
But “playing the field” is a far cry from rape.
A few days ago, one of Cosby’s accusers wrote a piece for the New York Times in which she not only reaffirmed her decades old charge of multiple rape against him but offered some chilling new details about their various encounters. According to Ms. Barbara Bowman, Cosby, to whom she met at age 17 as a struggling actress, was a “mentor” who slipped her essentially “date rape” pills. On at least two occasions, Bowman says she awoke in his apartment groggy and naked and “knowing” she had been violated by “the Coz.” Bowman says she tried to pursue legal action way back in 1984 but was “laughed at” by lawyers who said that “no one would ever go against Dr. Huxtable.”
Over the past 30 years the names have grown but the “stories” have pretty much stayed the same. Tamara Green, Andrea Constand, Beth Ferrier, Sandra Tolson, Autumn Jackson. Joan Tarshis, now a journalist, says Cosby raped her when she was age 19. In 1969 when they both worked at Universal Studios.
Ms. Constand, a former assistant at Temple University (Cosby’s alma mater) story sounds nearly identical to Bowman’s. “He gave me blue pills he kept in a small, black leather case. I woke up groggy, my clothes off me on a couch. I knew I had been groped. He (Cosby) told me it was just the way things were done.”
In preparation for her legal case against Cosby, Ms. Constand’s lawyers identified and apparently deposed at least 12 other women who all had similar encounters with Cosby.
But the fact is, Cosby has never been criminally charged and while he has settled out of court over such matters, he has contended that, like in the case of sexual encounters with Ms. Shawn Upshaw (Autumn Jackson contends she is a “love child” of Cosby) anything that “happened” was simply “consensual.”
Still, the perception (belief?) of Bill Cosby getting away with serial rape over the years has become so utterly accepted as fact in pop culture that comedians such as Hannibal Buress can make poking fun at Cosby as a rapist as part of his act. And not only does it elicit laughs but no one seems to question it. In fact, Ms. Bowman said she felt “emboldened” to write the article in the NY Times recently after hearing how open “the truth” about Cosby has become to a new generation of audiences.
Look, I do not pretend to know the “truth” when it comes to Bill Cosby and his female accusers. He wouldn’t be the first celebrity to have and hold on to some despicable, dark secrets he wouldn’t want seeing the light of day or the good folks at TMZ.
Nor would he be the first celebrity to be a target for extortion and unfairly slandered due to their fame, money and in today’s Twitter-age, their virtual accessibility.
Still. The names seem to be multiplying. The denials from Cosby and his lawyer seem to be getting softer not louder and the gallows-humor laughs are growing at his expense.
Cosby may never have to face his accusers in a court of law. But fairly or unfairly, the court of public opinion seems to rendering its verdict. And for Cosby, it is going to be a very bitter pill to swallow. Even with a big spoonful of Jell-O brand gelatin.
Say it ain’t so Fat Albert, say it ain’t so.
Note to self: Don’t let Artie Lange read my children any bedtime stories and no private script readings with Bill Cosby. You know, just in case it’s more than just the price of fame.