By Joseph C. Phillips
I love Bill Cosby! Honestly, that phrase may not be enough to sufficiently describe my feelings for Bill. He was my boyhood idol. His influence on my life has been profound. I owe much of who I am to Bill Cosby, so the idea of love seems to fall short of exactly how I feel. It may be that I need more than one word: Adulation! Regard! Devotedness! And yet, I remain inarticulate.
While growing up, I watched everything Bill Cosby did. My father had several of his comedy albums; I memorized them backwards and forwards. Bill was one of two comics that I imitated and memorized. Richard Pryor was the other. I owe my sense of humor to Bill Cosby. However, for me, Bill Cosby was more than a comedian. Bill was my idea of a great man – a great Black man! He was good looking, talented, smart, and he was fearless. The Cos was a ladies man, but also good father and husband – devoted to his wife and children. Bill was educated; he collected art and was fluent in jazz. After my father, Bill Cosby was the man I aspired to be. Few get an opportunity to meet their idol, much less work with them. I was blessed in that regard, and even more blessed that I found my idol as clever, kind, and brilliant as I had imagined.
In 2014 a series of accusations hit the public consciousness. A number of women stepped forward to claim that the great Bill Cosby had behaved inappropriately with them – groping, propositioning, and exposing himself. There were also a number of women who leveled far more serious accusations. These women claimed that Bill had drugged them and had sex with them while they were unconscious. On the street and in the courtroom, that is called rape.
As the story broke, I had dozens of people reach out to me asking me if the stories were true. I was low man on the totem pole. I can’t imagine how inundated with inquiries were Malcolm Jamal Warner or Phylicia Rashad. It must have been hell for them. It was no picnic for me. Everyone wanted to know if my idol was guilty.
When I joined the cast of the Cosby Show in 1989, it seemed to be common knowledge that Bill played around. When I say common knowledge, I mean that it was just something that people seemed to know without anyone saying anything. Bill sleeping around was a “fact” that, like, the air, seemed to just be. You didn’t have to see it or hear it to know that it existed.
There was also the seeming unending parade of pretty young women that streamed through the studio. In fact, that is what some of us called it – the parade. Light skinned. “Good” hair. One prettier than the next. I was 28, healthy, single, and horny as hell! You will forgive me if I wasn’t really focused on Bill during the parades.
<Joseph C. Phillips was born on January 17, 1962 in Denver, Colorado, USA as Joseph Connor Phillips. He is an actor, known for General Hospital (1963), The Cosby Show (1984) and Strictly Business (1991). He has been married to Nicole since 1994. They have three children.