Cosby: His Life and Times
When I took a look at the size of COSBY: HIS LIFE AND TIMES --- both the number of pages and the size of the print --- I thought it would take me forever to read the book because I assumed it would be dry and boring. There certainly is a lot to read here, but it’s far from being dry and boring.
Author Mark Whitaker has penned the first major biography of one of the most beloved comedians of all time, Bill Cosby, just in time for the 30th anniversary of the hit ’80s sitcom “The Cosby Show.” His writing is upbeat and lively, making the book a pleasure to read.
"COSBY: HIS LIFE AND TIMES is packed with tons of information, along with countless funny and touching stories about 'The Cos.' This is the book for fans of Bill Cosby --- the actor, the comedian, the writer, the person."
Whitaker takes the reader back to Cosby’s family tree, to the days when his ancestors were slaves, explaining how his parents eventually met and married. He talks about Cosby’s early years in Philadelphia, growing up in a housing project in a poor neighborhood, with an alcoholic father and a mother who worked as a maid to provide for her family. He details Cosby’s struggles with school (he dropped out of high school but then later went on to college), his stint in the Navy, his teaching job, his early years on stage, and his decades of work on the small screen (specifically, his two biggest successes, “I Spy” and “The Cosby Show,” but also flops such as “The Bill Cosby Show” and “Cos”).
Cosby’s career hasn’t always been golden. When he first started out as a stand-up comic, he sprinkled his routine with a few “off-color” jokes. He didn’t mean to characterize himself as a racist, but that’s how he was sometimes perceived. He later dropped those jokes from his repertoire and made a name for himself as a comic who developed original, fresh material. One of his best-known routines involves Noah and his conversations with God about building the ark. In the past few years, Cosby has been quite vocal about the importance of fatherhood, particularly in the African American community. This stance has earned him both praise and criticism, but in my book, he is still a legendary comedian and a wonderful person.
The author covers a lot of ground, including Cosby’s professional and personal struggles; the loss of his only son, Ennis, who was murdered in 1997 at the age of 27; and life with his wife, Camille, to whom he has been married for 50 years. Although he mentions an affair that Cosby had years ago with a woman, whose daughter eventually tried to extort $40 million from the comedian, Whitaker chooses not to bring up a sexual assault allegation leveled againt Cosby a decade ago by a woman who claimed he attacked her in his home after being given pills.
Despite this omission, COSBY: HIS LIFE AND TIMES is packed with tons of information, along with countless funny and touching stories about “The Cos.” This is the book for fans of Bill Cosby --- the actor, the comedian, the writer, the person.
Reviewed by Christine M. Irvin on September 26, 2014