Bill Cosby became one of the most iconic television dads of the 1980s when he starred in "The Cosby Show." But the actor is also the real-life father of five children, who all lead their lives out of the media spotlight.
The renowned TV producer and philanthropist Camille Cosby is widely admired for the unconditional love for her husband, actor Bill Cosby, her spouse for the last 57 years and counting.
Since they exchanged vows 57 years ago, the two have had five children. Unfortunately, they have also lost two of them in the last two decades.
Comedian Bill Cosby and wife Camille O. Cosby walk backstage during the 38th annual NAACP Image Awards held at the Shrine Auditorium on March 2, 2007, in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images
A longtime supporter and advocate of HBCUs, the historically African-American colleges and universities in the US, Camille, and Bill Cosby married on January 25, 1964.
Dedicated to the importance of education, Camille, in conjunction with her husband, donated $20 million to the prestigious African-American Spelman women's college in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1988.
Bill Cosby and his wife Camille Cosby speak onstage at the Apollo Theater 75th Anniversary Gala at The Apollo Theater on June 8, 2009, in New York City. | Source: Getty Images.
Her continued monetary contributions to HBCUs went well over the $70 million mark by 1994, two years after earning a Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts.
Already in her 40s, when Camille furthered her education, she had dropped out of college at the age of 19 to marry Bill Cosby. In 1992, she got a doctorate in education.
After spending time raising their five children, Evin, Erinn, Ensa, Ennis, and Erica, Camille decided to further her education.
Camille told Oprah in 2000:
"Because I didn't feel fulfilled educationally [...] I went back, and when I did, my self-esteem grew. I got my masters and doctoral degree."
Dr. Camille Cosby speaks on stage at the 35th Anniversary of the Jackie Robinson Foundation hosted by Bill Cosby at the Waldorf Astoria hotel on March 3, 2008, in New York City. | Source: Getty Images.
Camille's doctoral dissertation got published in 1994 by The University Press of America as "Television's Imageable Influences: The Self-Perceptions of Young African-Americans" ( ISBN 0819195219). She also continued working alongside her husband in between her studies.
Overseeing all financial and philanthropic matters, Camille works as Bill's business manager. At the same time, she also serves as the president of a stage production company, C&J Production, and COC Productions, which produces films.
Bill's wife, Camille, has stood with him throughout all his travails with the law. Hence, she was ecstatic ahead of his shocking release from jail on June 30, 2021.
When news broke out that Bill would regain his freedom, his attorney, Brian Perry had said that Camille was ecstatic, relieved, and happy. He also revealed that she lived near the Pennsylvania jail where Bill was incarcerated.
Since Bill Cosby released his first album in 1963, a few months after his debut on "The Tonight Show," he has won nine Grammys and sold over 10 million albums.
Among the companies who hired him as a pitchman over the years are Coke, Ford, Mattel, Kodak, Jell-O, Del Monte, EF Hutton, the U.S. Census, and White Owl Cigars (his first, in 1965).
In 1965, he had become the first black actor to star in a drama series when he was cast in the espionage show "I Spy." He went on to earn three consecutive best actor Emmys for his role.
The first set of accusations surfaced in 2005, when a staff member at Cosby's former university, Andrea Constand, said she had been drugged and molested by the star at his home a year earlier.
Over time, more women accused the star of sexual assault or rape, but only one — Andrea Constand — took the case to criminal court.
He was then found guilty on all three counts of sexual assault. On September 25, 2018, he was sentenced to a total of 3 to 10 years in prison. However, throughout the trial, his TV family supported him.
After serving two years of his sentence, in June, Pennsylvania's highest court overturned his conviction for sexual assault, and Cosby was released.
Cosby believes he is a "political prisoner," targeted for his social and political views, much like Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela, his spokesman Andrew Wyatt said.
As the youngest of the Cosby siblings, Evin owns a fashion-forward boutique named PB & Caviar, which cumulates her love for fashion with elegant and classic styles with a touch of boldness.
Evin's love for fashion became apparent during her early school days when she started playing around with fashion styles at 6.
Camille Cosby, Evin Cosby and Bill Cosby attend the launch of the PB&Caviar store on August 7, 2008, in New York City. | Source: Getty Images
"I was just always trying to look like Madonna or something like that. Then it just grew," Evin said during an interview in 2012.
By the time Evin attended Columbia Prep, people had advised her to pursue a career in fashion. After graduating, Evin attended Spelman for two years before she made the switch to FIT.
Soon, Evin's affinity for fashion got her an intern position at Essence Magazine while she helped stylists on the "Cosby Show."
But she didn't make much money from her interning, and so Bill and Camille decided to help her financially until she got on her feet. With that money, Evin started her now successful fashion boutique.
Bill Cosby, Ed.D. and daughter Erin Cosby (L) watch the Gala Concert before Cosby accepted the Marian Anderson Award April 6, 2010, at The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. | Source: Getty Images.
ERICA AND ERINN
Born a year apart, Erica and Erinn also focus on education, but in different ways. Erica prefers to lead a private life and lives in New York, where she works as an adjunct art professor.
Her artwork has been featured in many galleries, including SALTWORKS Contemporary Art, the Arlington Arts Center, Slate Gallery, and Artspace in New Haven.
On the other hand, Erinn made headlines when she accused Mike Tyson of sexual assault after meeting one night in 1992 at a New York Club.
Since then, Erinn had made spotty public appearances, the most recent of which is when she represented her father at the 125th Penn Relays on April 29, 2019. Meanwhile, Erinn pursued her Ph.D. at Temple University.
Erinn Cosby attends the premiere of "TETRO" at the Directors Guild Theatre on June 7, 2009, in New York City. | Source: Getty Images.
Even though she felt uncomfortable in the spotlight during her earlier years, she appeared alongside her father in one episode of his hit 1980s comedy series, "The Cosby Show."
Ennis attended Morehouse at his father's advisement, which ultimately led to discovering why he struggled with his grades since childhood.
When Ennis couldn't do better than a 2.3-grade point average in his freshman year, a friend suggested that he get tested for dyslexia during his sophomore year.
After Ennis discussed it with Camille and Bill, they promptly sent him for a battery of tests which confirmed the suspicion that Ennis has dyslexia.
After taking classes designed to help those with dyslexia, Ennis' grades improved. Sadly, at the age of 27, Ennis died in January 1997, the result of a botched robbery attempt.
In his honor, Bill Cosby dedicated his fourth album as a jazz producer for Verve Records to his late son titled "Hello, Friend. To Ennis With Love."
Named as a nod to a personal greeting father and son developed between each other through the years, Bill Cosby elaborated:
“We had our own personal greeting, which was ‘Mon Frere,’ my brother [...] But occasionally, he would greet me with ‘Hello, my friend.’
Bill Cosby speaks during a live taping of 'Meet the Press' at the NBC studios January 11, 2009, in Washington, DC. | Source: Getty Images.
The album also serves as proof to Bill that his son made a positive contribution to those around him. “You know how people hum a song that they love? The people who knew Ennis still hum about him with smiles on their faces," Bill added.
To further honor his son, Bill decided to donate a portion of the proceeds from the album's sale to the Hello Friend Foundation.
The Cosby family-established foundation promotes the understanding and education of people with language-based learning differences, including those with dyslexia. Differences Ennis worked hard to overcome so he could earn his postgraduate degrees.
Several years after Ennis's death, Bill Cosby opened up about the tragic circumstances and what happened when he first heard the sad news.
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