Bill Cosby: America’s favorite becomes isolated
A celebrity’s fall from grace is always ugly, but that of Bill Cosby who was once a beloved comedian who broke through ethnic differences to broadcast a successful black family into white living rooms, it is a true gut punch to America.
The Cosby name alone once evoked so much a treasured father figure, a model citizen and comic with a gentle, self-deprecating style and playful voice that would go from deep to screeching in search of a laugh.
But after accusations from formerly aspiring actresses and models number goes to around 60 women that he was a calculating, serial sexual predator who plied victims with tranquilizer and alcohol to bed them which left his career and reputation in scraps.
On Monday the 79-year-old, Emmy-winning actor and Grammy-winning stand-up comedian went on trial in Pennsylvania for aggravated indecent assault, accused of drugging and assaulting a woman at his home in 2004.Dozens and dozens of accusers have alleged that the entertainer exploited his fame to feed them tranquilizer and alcohol, leaving them powerless to resist.
But the trial in Norristown, just outside Philadelphia is the only criminal case to stick as the vast majority of alleged incidents happened too long ago to prosecute. Cosby insists that the actions were done consensually but if he proofed guilty, he will spend the rest of his life behind bars on a minimum 10-year sentence and a $25,000 fine.
Today, Cosby cuts a forlorn figure, deserted by celebrity pals and left legally blind from glaucoma.
“There are so many tentacles. So many different — ‘nefarious’ is a great word,” he told Sirius XM radio, insisting he had “an awful lot to offer” in terms of writing and performing.
Born in lower middle class family on July 12, 1937 in Philadelphia to a mother who was a maid and a father who was a Navy cook, William Henry Cosby Jr. developed a reputation as the class clown, and joined the Navy after 10th grade, finishing high school by correspondence.
On a pre-trial public relations offensive, he suggested that racism may have played a big role, in a radio interview at times rambling and confused.
He won an athletic scholarship to Temple University and started doing stand-up comedyin his early 20s on variety programs, but his debut starring was in 1965 when he co-starred in the espionage thriller “I Spy.”
That was a time when black actors were having few roles. He won three Emmys and went on to star in a string of successful movies in the 1970s.
Then from 1984 to 1992, he portrayed gynecologist Cliff Huxtable, the affable, funny dad of an upper middle class black family with a lawyer wife in “The Cosby Show” so named thanks to the actor’s overwhelming star power.
The sitcom became one of the most popular TV shows in history and the ultimate family-oriented series, turning Cosby into a major figure of US pop culture in the second half of the 20th century.
Show which was anchored by NBC’s powerful Thursday night line-up he was heaped in awards and for the first time put an affluent African American family on prime time.
He was member of the Temple board of trustees for decades until he resigned in 2014, he authored best-selling books, stripped of honorary degrees as sexual assault scandals mushroomed.
Whoopi Goldberg once supported him but now denounced him. He is isolated, and has largely refused to discuss the allegations against him other than to deny them through his lawyers.
His wife of 53 years, Camille, has stood by his side. They have five children. Their son Ennis was shot dead in 1997 while changing a tire in California.