Bill Cosby turns 80
Getty Images/Gilbert Carrasquillo(LOS ANGELES) — A groundbreaking comedian once referred to as “America’s Dad” turns 80 today: Bill Cosby.
A veteran of the stand-up scene first came to acclaim opposite Robert Culp in the series I Spy — the first pairing of interracial leads on a television show in which they were portrayed as equals.
While his comedy records became best-sellers, inspiring a new generation of comedians, Cosby soon turned to children’s TV, with appearances on the educational show The Electric Company and later the animated Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids in 1971.
However, it was 1984’s The Cosby Show that cemented his place in pop culture history. The show — in which he played an obstetrician, and his wife, played by Phylicia Rashad, an attorney — was praised for its portrayal of an affluent African-American family.
However, decades later, Cosby’s legacy was irreparably tarnished with headlines about dozens of women who accused him of drugging them and/or sexually assaulting them. He’s denied all the accusations.
Cosby was charged in 2015 with felony aggravated indecent assault stemming from an alleged 2004 encounter with one accuser, Andrea Constand. He pleaded not guilty, and after more than five days and some 52 hours of deliberation, the jury couldn’t reach a unanimous decision, resulting in a mistrial.
Montgomery County, Pennsylvania District Attorney Kevin Steele has said that he plans to retry the case.
Will fans still remember Cosby as the comic who made generations laugh, or has that legacy been irreparably damaged?
“The statues come down, I think. The names come off the buildings. I think the first line of the obituary changes,” says longtime entertainment journalist Chris Connelly. “I think everything changes. I think to some degree a lot of that has already happened.”
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