Bill Cosby & His Wife Learn To Move Forward Despite Their Struggles

This article appeared in Ninjajournalist and has been published here with permission.

Bill Cosby spent the majority of his life in the public spotlight as “America’s dad”, but beneath his squeaky clean image, there are many hidden dark secrets. Now, Bill Cosby and his wife make an unexpected announcement.

Vegas Entertainment

Though Cosby’s wife Camille has consistently stuck by his side, he has not always been faithful to her. The most prominent of his extramarital affairs was with Shawn Brown during the 1970s. She said they carried on a consensual relationship when the two met in Las Vegas in 1973, when Shawn was 20. The two had an extremely awkward public break up in a restaurant, which also happened to be in front of Shawn’s mother.

Bill Cosby Shawn Brown
Vegas Entertainment

Admitting His Affair

In 1997, more than 20 years after his affair with Shawn Brown, Cosby publicly confessed to their relationship in an interview with Dan Rather. Brown is the daughter of a Las Vegas showgirl and was used to galavanting around celebrities, so she was unfazed when she first met Cosby. Cosby’s wife Camille has allegedly been aware of his infidelities for a long time, and though she is hurt by it, she continued to stay with him, even after his public admission.

Bill Cosby Cliff Huxtable
Admitting His Affair

Long Lost Love Child

Cosby’s public acknowledgement of his relationship with Shawn Brown came after her daughter, Autumn Jackson, came forward to announce that she believes he is her father. Though the man listed on Jackson’s birth certificate is Jerry Jackson, Brown claims that Cosby urged her to list him as the father, even though she has always insisted her daughter was fathered by Cosby. Cosby has hedged on whether or not he believes Jackson is his, but still supported the family financially.

Autumn Jackson
Long Lost Love Child

Extortion Gone Awry

After a heartbreaking tragedy in the Cosby family, Autumn Jackson, his alleged love child from his 1973 affair with Shawn Brown, demanded $40 million from the TV star in exchange for silence about his affair with her mother. The financial support Cosby paid out to Brown over the years, estimated between $100,000 to $250,000, which included money to send Jackson to college, is believed to have been to buy Brown’s silence. Jackson was convicted of a felony for extortion, as her demand for $40 million was unreasonable regardless.

Autumn Jackson Bill Cosby Extortion Trial
Extortion Gone Awry

Family Heartbreak

In mid-January 1997, Bill Cosby’s only son Ennis was murdered while changing a flat tire on his mother’s Mercedes Benz just off of the 405 in Los Angeles. He had recently left a party and was on his way to a friend’s house, when he fell victim to a botched robbery. Ennis was in LA for winter break while he was studying at Columbia for a doctorate in special education. The Cosbys were immediately bombarded by the media in the aftermath, giving them no time to process.

Bill Cosby Ennis Cosby
Family Heartbreak

National Apprehender

Ennis’s assailant fled the scene immediately following his crime, ensuring a national search. Many rewards were offered and withdrawn with regards to the perpetrator’s information, but the two that were allowed to remain were rewards offered by two tabloids, The Globe and The National Enquirer. Following the Enquirer‘s reward of $100,000, Mikhail Markhasev was found and charged with the murder. The tabloid tried to use this as a collateral to share private details of Cosby’s life, but he exchanged an exclusive interview for their silence.

Bill Cosby Ennis Cosby
National Apprehender

Art Imitates Life

Following the loss of his son, Cosby is said to have commissioned many pieces of art in Ennis’s likeness for display in his multiple homes. His grief was so profound that he has reportedly never recovered, and would be seen talking to the paintings and sculptures as if he were talking to Ennis himself. Though Cosby had 5 children with wife Camille, Ennis was the only boy, and his birth was considered to be one of Cosby’s “greatest joys.”

Bill Cosby Art
Art Imitates Life

Class Clown

Despite his eventual doctorate in education, earned at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, during his youth, Cosby was regarded by his teachers as a class clown. He was an avid athlete and performer, but eventually dropped out of school to work after failing the 10th grade. He finally earned a his high school equivalency diploma via correspondence course, before attending the dropping out of Temple University. Cosby never actually earned a bachelors degree, just a masters followed by his doctorate.

Bill Cosby Football
Class Clown

Like Father, Like Son

Cosby was intensely critical of his beloved son when he was struggling in school, even going so far as to call him lazy. Though Ennis just scraped by enough to attend college, he was finally diagnosed with dyslexia at the beginning of his freshman year. Cosby apologized for his harsh words, and even wrote the storyline into the Cosby show, where Theo Huxtable struggles in school before ultimately realizing that his difficulties were due to dyslexia, rather than intellectual ineptitude or laziness.

Bill Cosby Ennis Cosby
Like Father, Like Son

Bankrupt Bill

After the premiere of The Cosby Show in 1984, Bill Cosby blew his paycheck on a series of lavish purchases, culminating in the acquisition of a production company for the tidy sum of $2 million. The company was intended as a tax shelter for his television money, but instead it ate away at his savings, given that all the films they produced were flops. In order to rebuild his fortune, he had to go back on the road with all of its feminine temptations.

Bill Cosby
Bankrupt Bill

Hello Jell-O

Starting in 1974, Bill Cosby became the television spokesperson for Jell-O. He was already well known as a television personality from his runs on I Spy in the 1960s and from his stand up albums. Cosby was chosen due to the success of his show, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, with the idea that rather than focusing on their parents, Jell-O would target children instead, in order to get them to now convince their parents to buy the snack.

Bill Cosby Jello
Hello Jell-O

Ladies Take The Lead

After Bill Cosby’s financial woes took hold, he allowed his wife to take control of their business dealings, having her serve as his business manager, a role she still plays in his life today. He apparently cut down on his expenses and started paying for everything he bought in cash, even going so far as to carry around wads of bills. As for business lunches and the like, he let the studios and other executives pay for those.

Bill Cosby Camille Cosby
Ladies Take The Lead
Ladies Take The Lead[/captio

Hotel Cosby

With his initial television success, Cosby found himself in the midst of a financial windfall, which inspired him to invest in expensive holdings, like a Beverly Hills mansion with 31 rooms, a pool, and a staff of servants. Cosby wanted to give the appearance of luxury, given the poverty in which he grew up. He also owned a number of luxury cars, including a Ferrari, an Aston Martin from 1934, as well as a Mercedes convertible. His friends called the home, “The Cosby Hilton.”

Bill Cosby Beverly Hills
Hotel Cosby

Playboy Punches

In 1977, during one of Cosby’s frequent visits to the Playboy Mansion he got into an argument with comedian and musician, Tommy Smothers, about how Cosby failed to make any sort of statement against the Vietnam War while otherwise talking about civil rights issues. Cosby supposedly flew into an unexpected rage, and darted around Hugh Hefner to sock Tommy hard enough to knock him over. Hefner reportedly separated the men while Cosby was continuing to try and provoke Smothers into a larger brawl.

Bill Cosby Playboy Mansion
Playboy Punches

Enemy Of The Watergate

President Nixon published a list in 1971 with the names of over 200 Americans from all sectors, including politicians and entertainers. Bill Cosby happened to be one of the names on that list, and he along with several other prominent black personalities were subject to harassment via audit by the IRS. Cosby was quoted at the time saying, “I want to make it perfectly clear that Nixon was on my list long before I was on his list…”

Bill Cosby I Spy
Enemy Of The Watergate

C Is For Controversy

As an invited speaker to a number of NAACP event, Bill Cosby made waves after a 2004 speech commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Brown vs Board of Ed decision. In his Washington D.C. speech, made at Constitution Hall, he derided black Americans for not working harder to prioritize education and self-help, saying that they were too focused on sports performance and clothing, and asking them to better teach their children about a wider range of American culture.

Bill Cosby NAACP
C Is For Controversy

Unrestrained Anger

In an incident from the early seasons of The Cosby Show, it’s said the Cosby one day became irrationally angry at a camera man, feeling like the employee was slacking off on the job. According to his 2014 biography by Mark Whitaker, “Cosby grabbed the technician and looked as if he was going to take a swing at him until Ahmad Rashad, who was dating [Cosby’s TV wife,] Phylicia Ayers-Allen and was visiting the set, stepped into restrain him”.

Bill Cosby
Unrestrained Anger

Catholic Covenant

While Bill Cosby identifies as a Protestant, his wife Camille’s parents were Catholic. The pair met while Cosby was playing at a jazz club in the 60s, but Camille was hesitant their relationship could survive long-distance. Cosby proposed to her soon after, but her parents would only approve the marriage if they participated in a pre-marital course given by the Catholic church, to which Cosby agreed. The pair were married soon after in 1964, and have remained together despite many difficulties.

Bill Cosby Camille Cosby
Catholic Covenant

Man Of Seals

Bill Cosby enlisted in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War in 1954, where he served at the Marine Corps Base in Quantico, Virginia, as well as a stint at the Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland. He worked with injured soldiers from both the Navy and the Marines who needed physical therapy to recover from injuries they sustained during their tours of duty in Korea. He remained in the position for all 4 years of his military.

Bill Cosby Navy
Man Of Seals

Brothers Of Broadcast

Cosby got his start on television from a special on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. While he had been touring comedy clubs throughout the country, it was his appearance on the career making late night show in 1963 that earned him his first recording contracts, as well as national exposure. Cosby went on to appear on Carson a number of times, including a notable appearance in the 1990s where each of the funny men failed to connect with their unusually young audience.

Bill Cosby Tonight Show
Brothers Of Broadcast

Comedy Cocktails

Though he always had a penchant for funny business, Cosby only began to think about comedy as a career once he began bartending at a coffeehouse in Philadelphia while studying at Temple University. He reports that he noticed he got more tips when he would joke with customers, who would encourage the young performer to try his hand at stand up. Cosby eventually took their advice, and within a couple of years dropped out of school in order to pursue comedy full time.

Bill Cosby
Comedy Cocktails

Childhood Antics

What set Cosby’s comedy apart from his peers was that overall, his jokes were family friendly, and rather than tell sordid stories of hard partying and lewd behavior, even if he also engaged in it, he based his act on stories from his childhood. Some critics spoke out about his tendency to avoid racially charged subjects, but Cosby saw that as a plus. He felt it was better that white audiences could relate to the experiences of his youth, regardless of their race.

Bill Cosby Fat Albert
Childhood Antics

Television Tidal Waves

Following the success of his comedy records, network executives took a gamble and cast Cosby in a starring role for the new show, I Spy, opposite Robert Culp. It was the first time a black actor was cast in a leading role for a dramatic TV show, and though producers were worried some stations would decline the broadcast, which several in the south did, they went ahead with Cosby anyway. The gamble paid off, and Cosby was rewarded with Emmys three years in a row.

Bill Cosby I Spy
Television Tidal Waves

Sinister Side

In the early 2000s, a young woman named Andrea Constand filed a lawsuit against Bill Cosby, alleging that he slipped things in her drink to inhibit her, before physically taking advantage of her. The original suit was settled for an unknown amount of money, but in 2014, Cosby was once again hit with the allegations, with more women coming forward with their own harrowing tales. To date, over 50 women have come forward with stories dating back as far as the 1960s.

Bill Cosby Andrea Constand
Sinister Side

A Quiet Deal

Among the information that has been released as part of Cosby’s trial this year, we have learned that many of the women he was involved with, particularly in the past, were bought off with money for their silence. Some have even claimed that he offered to pay their way through college, so long as their grades were good, after their encounters. Cosby has supposedly employed an arsenal of lawyers who have helped keep these stories under the rug until now.

Bill Cosby Trial
A Quiet Deal

Presidential Lineage

Bill Cosby’s wife since 1964, Camille Olivia Cosby, née Hanks, is a relative of Abraham Lincoln’s mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln. They are supposedly distant cousins. Cosby was inspired to use her maiden name as TV wife Clair Huxtable’s maiden name, who was played by the esteemed Phylicia Rashad. He chose to use her middle name for Cliff Huxtable’s granddaughter, portrayed by a very young Raven-Symoné. Other notable cousins of Nancy Hanks include Tom Hanks, as well as George and Rosemary Clooney.

Camille Cosby
Presidential Lineage

Blind Faith

It has been reported by Cosby’s lawyers, that the actor is now considered legally blind, after being diagnosed with a rare form of glaucoma. The actor and comedian has been slowly losing his vision, and even in the 1990s was unable to use the peripheral vision in one of his eyes. According to Cosby and his publicist, when they agreed to an interview as long as they painted a favorable image of Cosby, he lost the remainder of his vision in 2015.

Bill Cosby
Blind Faith

Feeling The Consequences

While Cosby has been thus far released on a $1 million bail, he is awaiting a retrial later this year regarding his inappropriate conduct with women. In the meantime, the allegations against him have caused him to lose out on a new show that was set to premiere on 2015, as networks continue to cut ties with him. Reruns of The Cosby Show and his other specials have also been pulled, as have celebrity endorsements from new editions of his biography.

Bill Cosby
Feeling The Consequences

Scat Man Bill

Between 1979 and 2012, Bill Cosby was the host of the Playboy Jazz Festival in Los Angeles. He’s an avid jazz lover, and can even be seen playing both drums and bass guitar in television specials from the 70s with other jazz greats like Sammy Davis Jr. and Jerry Lewis. From 2004, Cosby has been a member of The Jazz Foundation of America, which is a non-profit established in 1989 in order to help connect jazz musicians with emergency funds as well as performance opportunities.

Bill Cosby Playboy Jazz
Scat Man Bill

Tyson Ties

During daughter Erinn’s troubled period, she once met Mike Tyson at a club and went to his home with him, following which he apparently went after her. She managed to escape his unwanted advances and informed her parents, whose lawyers scared the champion boxer into seeking therapy, so as not to face their wrath in a courtroom. After the incident, Erinn renounced her hard partying life, kept a low profile, and sought counseling to get herself back on track.

Cosby Daughters
Tyson Ties

Doctor Cosby

While Cosby rightfully earned his own Ph.d in Education from University of Massachusetts in 1976, writing a dissertation on the educational use of Fat Albert and The Cosby Kids for elementary students, he also has been the recipient of over 57 honorary degrees in his lifetime, in such varied fields as music, art, law, and letters. Unfortunately, due to his current legal trouble, a large number of his honorary degrees have now been revoked, but at least 13 are still his for the time being.

Bill Cosby
Doctor Cosby

For Your Consideration

During The Cosby Show’s eight year run on NBC, from 1984 to 1992, Bill Cosby refused to submit himself for consideration for the Best Actor Emmy. Already a three time winner, he seemed to feel that he didn’t need to be in competition with other actors, though many think he could have won for the first couple of seasons at least. There is also some speculation that had he submit himself, other aspects of the show would have gotten more recognition.

Bill Cosby Emmy
For Your Consideration

Kenan Can

In 2004, Cosby decided to turn his 1970s cartoon Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids into a live action, feature film. The film starred Kenan Thompson, then known from his child star turns on All That and Kenan and Kel, both of which ran on Nickelodeon, as the title character. Cosby is reported to have watched only 15 seconds of Thompson’s audition before deciding that he had to play the role of Albert. Thompson is now one of the longest running cast members currently on SNL.

Bill Cosby Kenan Thompson
Kenan Can

Mother Knows Best

When Bill Cosby was first developing the characters for The Cosby Show, he initially wanted his patriarch, Cliff, to be a limo driver, while his on-screen wife, Claire, would be a union plumber. Cosby’s real-life wife, Camille, suggested that both characters would be better role models for their audience, and would better represent their ideals if the pair were white-collar professionals like themselves. That’s how Cliff became a respected doctor, and Claire became a high powered attorney.

Cosby Show
Mother Knows Best

Big Screen Bombs

After his early television success, Bill Cosby tried moving into film during the 70s. He wanted to create comedy films that countered the typical genre described as “blaxploitation”, films marketed towards the urban black community, by centering them around poor black urban areas, and filling them with funk and soul music. Though he had some marginal successes in Uptown Saturday Night and Let’s Do It Again, the majority of his film work was panned by most critics.

Bill Cosby
Big Screen Bombs

King Of NBC

In the throes of his prime time television success, Bill Cosby toyed with the idea of buying the network on which his show had aired. The network, which had been owned by General Electric at the time, would have cost the comedian something in the range of $4 billion. Though he plotted his takeover for over a year, first considering using much of his own money before deciding to let Goldman Sachs foot the entire bill, the deal ultimately fell through.

Bill Cosby
King Of NBC

Cosby’s Famous Sweaters

Designed by Dutch fashion guru, Koos Van Den Akker, the iconic sweaters made their television debut after a friend of Cosby’s asked the designer to make a sweater as a gift for the funny man. Van Den Akker obliged, and Cosby wore his present on the air. The fashion choice elicited so many letters from fans who wanted to know where they could find similar pieces, that the “Cosby sweater” became an enduring symbol of the show.

Bill Cosby Sweater
Cosby’s Famous Sweaters

Stepping On Simpsons

By 1989, the audience of The Cosby Show was waning. It’s early brilliance had regressed into campy comedy, and viewers were beginning to look elsewhere for entertainment. The Simpsons was a competing broadcast, and though both shows were rivals for audience attention, rather than becoming bitter, the two playfully acknowledged their rivalries with jokes and references on their respective shows. In one episode, Cliff Huxtable entered the room in a Bart Simpson mask to the delight of the audience.

Bill Cosby Simpsons
Stepping On Simpsons

Camille Speaks Out

Following the sinister allegations against her husband, Camille Cosby has continued to support him, joining him in the court room, and even calling the District Attorney, “heinous and exploitively ambitious,” and followed by saying that, “Truth can be subdued, but not destroyed.” The comedian’s wife of over 50 years has always been aware of his long history of infidelities, even seeking advice from Oprah has to how to handle them, but has ultimately decided to continue to stand by his side.

Bill Cosby Camille Cosby
Camille Speaks Out

Parental Rift

When Cosby’s daughter Erinn began struggling with substance dependency during her teen years, Cosby wanted her to “grow up the hard way” leading to a rift between the two. He publicly criticized her life choices, even going so far as to say, “She can’t come here.”

Bill Cosby Erinn Cosby
Parental Rift