I feel so sorry for Camille Cosby, Bill’s wife. He has been a history-making entertainer and it has all tumbled to the bottom of the barrel with his sick sexual behavior.
My uncle, Johnny Hartman, was a friend of Cosby’s, early on in his career when Bill was a young entertainer playing at Chicago’s popular Mr. Kelly’s nightclub. He was supposed to perform for a week, but the show was extended for about six weeks. He was hot.
My uncle had come to town to perform as well and they were at each other’s shows. Bill and Camille were newlyweds of about three months. Bill called Johnny one Saturday night and said, “Hey man, we are so hungry for a home-cooked meal and we know this is home for you, so can you make room for a nice couple at the table on Sunday?”
We were delighted. The whole family gathered to meet Uncle John’s friend, Bill Cosby. He got lost on the way because he said all of the buildings in Lake Meadows, where we lived, looked alike. My cousin Chuckie and I were sent to find him. He was in Walgreens on 35th Street. We went and got Bill and Camille and we walked home.
My mother had just finished cooking dinner and the timing was perfect. We had dinner and the Cosbys were indeed hungry. My dad started kicking Bill’s tires to see what he was made of. Camille’s father had not sanctioned the Cosby marriage 100 percent, arguing who marries a comedian, a Black comedian at that.
But they were in love. She was beautiful. My dad said, if you are a comedian, let’s hear a joke. Then my uncles chimed in and Cosby had us all laughing before long after dinner. It was a good time.
Camille was noticeably quiet and did not engage in the laughter; she just sat perfectly still. My mother and aunts took her into the bedroom, deciphering that something was going on. Indeed, Camille was in the early stages of pregnancy.
On The Cusp Of Greatness
At family dinner to this day, we still talk about the Sunday when Cosby came through. He wasn’t “The Cos” yet, but he was on his way. Bill became a star on I Spy with Robert Culp. It was a different kind of show. Cosby was determined to break new ground as a new entertainer.
I encountered Bill again as he and Culp used to come to Chicago on Saturdays for breakfast meetings with Rev. Jesse Jackson at Operation PUSH. Bill always asked about my family when he saw me. He often asked if he could stop by for dinner.
Cosby had a Black television program with Black values and portrayed a different kind of Black family for America. No poverty, no struggle, no downtrodden.
Then he hit the jackpot with The Cosby Show. He wanted a show to depict a positive Black family on TV. He was a doctor, she was a lawyer, and they had a Black professional family.
Cosby had a Black television program with Black values and guest entertainers, and he portrayed a different kind of Black family for America. No poverty, no struggle, no downtrodden. He showed Black colleges, he showed upward mobility, he showed clean living, he showed the children having children’s problems.
He became the new “Father Knows Best.” He was Mr. Cool Dad. He wore sweaters. He was the Black guy that many of us knew. We knew that family. We were that family. He crossed over, telling jokes about family rather than Blackness. Bravo Cosby.
Bill became quite wealthy. His show was a major hit and the backbone of NBC’s television lineup. Black folk and maybe others built their schedules around The Cosby Show. It was dinner time or time to go to work, but we were looking at The Cosby Show. We were discussing The Cosby Show the next day at work, at the water cooler, and in church.
And then Bill became philanthropic. He did what Black folk thought he should do. He bought art. He gave money to Black colleges. He supported Black causes. He loved jazz, and supported jazz musicians. He even tried to sing with jazz greats. Quincy Jones humored him with a play.
I encountered Cosby again as I was hosting the N’DIGO Gala. I had never had a comedian as entertainment and we talked about him performing at the Gala one year, but we could never schedule it. Bill said though, “The dollars go for scholarships, right?” He said, “Go find a couple of kids that I can sponsor, but don’t tell them where the money comes from.” He was generous.
Behind The Persona
That’s the Cosby I came to know. The man with the sexual sickness is, I guess, the real Cosby, the man behind the persona. Unbelievable. He is unbelievable in more ways than one.
Cosby in his movies Mother, Juggs and Speed above, and as New York City gangster Mongo Slade in Let’s Do It Again below.
By Bill’s own admission, he drugged women with pills and alcohol so that he could have his brand of sex with them. He relaxed them to a point of unconsciousness and then he raped and performed what sounds like weirdo sexual acts on them.
He enjoyed passive sex. He sounds like a sick, sick man, a man with a problem. How could he? But 60 or so women have stepped forth and told the basics of the same story. It shouts guilty. He even invited women to his home for his planned acts, sometimes while Camille was elsewhere on the premises.
And now this man, at 80, might be facing his death in a jail cell. What happens to Camille, the beautiful, lovely wife who has already lost two children?
This is a sad tale of fame and fortune turned bad. The court of public opinion was already against Cosby and now the judicial verdict has found him guilty. He will most likely be jailed for at least some period of time. In addition, his sight is poor; he is said to be legally blind.
But Bill is still quite wealthy. At one time, he was considering purchasing NBC and then when it was realized that his proposed deal was real, Cosby began to have a lot of trouble.
How much wealth he will retain is debatable, as he faces a slew of civil suits by other female accusers and possibly another criminal trial involving a 15 year old that Cosby is alleged to have sexually assaulted at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles.
Bill Cosby is sick. Now he is a convicted sexual predator and much of his good work will be forgotten. Of all the famous men who have been accused of sexual misconduct recently, including the President of the United States, Bill Cosby is the only one to become a convicted criminal…so far. He is Black. He is a Black man that changed the image of Black men and Black families.
I think back and wonder what happened to that young man who came to my family’s house for dinner one Sunday. He’s gone forever.