The Saga of Bill Cosby: From America’s Dad to Accused Sexual Abuser – NBCNews.com
Back in the 1980s, he was the sweater-wearing Dr. Cliff Huxtable who dispensed wit and wisdom on the “The Cosby Show.”
Before that, Cosby was a beloved comedian and groundbreaking performer who broke through the Hollywood color barrier in 1965 by becoming the first black man to star in a TV drama series, “I Spy.”
But for the past couple of years, his reputation has been in tatters after dozens of women have come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct and now he’s faced a two-week trial during which he was accused of drugging and molesting one of them in 2004. He claims it was consensual sex.
The fact that his trial ended with a hung jury on Saturday did little to sway people in the court of public opinion who’ve already made up their mind about his guilt or innocence.
Cosby has steadfastly denied molesting anybody. But the damage to his image has already been done and it’s likely to be permanent, Bob Thompson, pop culture expert at Syracuse University, told NBC News.
“Irrespective of the verdict, I think the first thing Bill Cosby will be remembered for in history is this story,” said Thompson. “I have students in my classes who have never seen an episode of ‘The Cosby Show’ and who know Cosby from this. He is never going to live this down.”
Born July 12, 1937 in segregated Philadelphia, Cosby and his three brothers were raised in a housing project. His mother was a maid. His father was a steward in the U.S. Navy and was mostly absent for much of his childhood.