In the 1970s, Bill Cosby created “Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids,” a Saturday-morning cartoon series based loosely on his Philadelphia childhood that promoted good behavior and morality.
The comedian’s private life around the same time was at odds with his squeaky-clean public image. As Cosby himself acknowledged decades later, the married man obtained quaaludes to give to women he wanted to have sex with.
The gap between the public Cosby, the long-time role model and moralist, and the private Cosby, the philanderer fighting accusations he drugged and sexually assaulted women, is what prompted a federal judge this month to unseal parts of the entertainer’s 2005-06 deposition in a sexual abuse lawsuit.
Cosby, 78, denies his accusers’ assault accusations, most of which were made long after the statute of limitations had expired, and has not been charged with a crime.
Here is a look at Cosby’s career and persona through the decades, stacked up against what his accusers say he did behind closed doors.
In public: Cosby dropped out of college to pursue a career in stand-up, releasing several best-selling albums whose PG-rated observational comedy drew heavily on his childhood. Then, after a star turn in the groundbreaking TV show “I Spy,” he played an upstanding high school gym teacher in NBC’s short-lived “The Bill Cosby Show.”
In private: Joan Tarshis alleges Cosby drugged and assaulted her in 1969, when she was 19.
In public: In addition to creating “Fat Albert” and supplying some of the characters’ voices, Cosby starred in “The Electric Company,” an educational TV show for children. He also appeared in the first of countless Jell-O commercials with adorable kids. He returned to school and got a doctorate in education.
In private: At least two women say Cosby drugged and assaulted them. A third says Cosby forced her to perform a sex act on him in the Playboy Mansion in 1974, when she was 15. In the deposition that became public in recent days, Cosby acknowledged he used quaaludes in the ’70s “the same as a person would say, ‘Have a drink.'” He denied giving the party drug to women without their knowledge.
In public: Cosby released the acclaimed film “Bill Cosby: Himself,” which focused on the trials and tribulations of raising children. Then came the debut of his biggest hit and the nation’s No. 1 sitcom, “The Cosby Show.” His portrayal of Dr. Cliff Huxtable — sweater-wearing obstetrician and playful, doting and wise father of five — cemented his image as America’s Dad.
Away from “The Cosby Show” set, Cosby, who always worked clean, chided Eddie Murphy for his foul-mouthed comedy, as recounted by Murphy in his 1987 stand-up film “Raw.”
In private: At least eight women, including model Janice Dickinson, say Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted them, or made unwanted sexual advances.
In public: President George W. Bush awarded Cosby the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, for having “used the power of laughter to heal wounds and to build bridges.” In 2004, Cosby delivered what became known as the “pound cake” speech, lamenting social dysfunction in urban black neighborhoods, criticizing single motherhood and saggy pants, and accusing some blacks of squandering opportunities made possible by the civil rights movement. He later toured the country talking to young black men and women about morals and responsibility.
In private: Temple University basketball administrator Andrea Constand says Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her at his suburban Philadelphia mansion in 2004. In the deposition he gave as part of a lawsuit settled in 2006, Cosby said that he gave Constand the cold medicine Benadryl and that they had consensual sexual contact. A prosecutor declined to file charges, saying there wasn’t enough evidence.
Another accuser, model Chloe Goins, came forward this year to report that Cosby drugged and sexually abused her at the Playboy Mansion in 2008. Cosby’s lawyer has said he wasn’t at the mansion on the night in question. Her accusation is under investigation by California authorities.
Associated Press writers Frazier Moore and Hillel Italie in New York and Anthony McCartney in Los Angeles contributed to this story.
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