LA Dreamers: Our African-American Pioneers – Bill Cosby
LOS ANGELES (KTLA) — KTLA has been celebrating black history month all February by paying respect to L.A. Dreamers — our African American pioneers.
Now we look at Bill Cosby, an American legend and pioneer in comedy, television and life.
“I had this dream of being different, different in terms of my color — the stereotypes of my color on TV,” Cosby said.
At 75-years young, the icon has collected numerous awards, accolades and hundreds of millions of fans around the world.
“I had no intention of becoming a writer, a comedy writer, a performer,” he admits.
But before he made a living out of making audiences laugh, Cosby had conquered a challenging road, a road filled with obstacles that were not always because of the color of his skin.
“My mother was so very, very busy behaviorally with a husband with no responsibility and a husband who was very, very violent and, an alcohol addict,” he recalled.
In his Los Angeles home, Cosby opened up about the one struggle that he has rarely ever spoken about in the past.
“My wish, in those days, I don’t know, but I know that later the wish was for my father to just go away and stay, away.”
Instead, it was a then 19-year-old Bill who left to join the Navy. The rigid atmosphere there gave him foresight that the only way to get out was to get educated.
Cosby was accepted into Temple University on an athletic scholarship. Then came a series of groundbreaking firsts starting with Cosby’s big break in 1965, when he nabbed the leading role in “I Spy,” making him the first African-American actor to star on a weekly network television series and the first to win an Emmy.
Throughout the sixties, Cosby’s career in comedy also flourished. He garnered six Grammys for his stand-up albums.
For this rising star, it always came back to the importance of education.
While earning his Ph.D and doctorate at the University of Massachusetts, he appeared on the children’s series “The Electric Company,” and developed “Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids”.
“Understand that life requires that you get this education… Education will guide you out of where you live,” Cosby said.
But it was his role as “Dr. Heathcliff ‘Cliff’ Huxtable” that may have had the biggest impact on society.
“The Cosby Show” was loosely modeled after his own family with his wife, four girls and one son.
To this day the icon still travels the country to do stand-up, where he draws from his life with a message that remains constant, regardless of his success as an entertainer.
“The wish for the people, the education to think 100 percent, we have to put the value of the education where it ought to be.
You happen to be who you are because of your time spent thinking, doing and wanting and not being afraid.”
The Cos also garnered six Grammys for his stand-up albums, but regardless of his success as an entertainer, his stance on life has always been about education.