I grew up watching “The Cosby Show” and being comforted by the warm, familial and comedic sitcom. Dr. Huxtable always had a way of finding creative solutions to the endless issues that arose within the Huxtable family. Bill Cosby’s warmth, wisdom and jocosity continue to intertwine into his current life of entertainment, education and community service.
Bill Cosby grew up in the impoverished neighborhood of Germantown, North Philadelphia with his two brothers and, although the young boys were in the projects, Bill’s parents instilled in them the importance of a strong work ethic and that there was a better life available than what surrounded them in Philadelphia. As the years went on, Bill could not wait to start working himself and he quit high school in the 10th grade and began odd jobs, none satisfying him quite enough. So he decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and he joined the Navy.
The Navy is where Bill excelled in athletics, realized his astute intelligence and went on to earn his high school diploma. After being honorably discharged from the Navy in 1961, Bill was steadfast to continue his education and he earned a track-and-field scholarship to Temple University and majored in physical education. Meanwhile he worked part-time jobs, which is ultimately how his career in show business began. Bill’s unique way of looking at life and his clever jokes lead him to perform at the Gaslight Cafe in New York City where other comedians performed, including Woody Allen.
Bill’s career continued to strengthen and by 1963 he was being interviewed by Newsweek and progressed to appear on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson“ which led to the television series “I Spy” and, a few years later, “The Cosby Show.” Bill has also starred in movies, created numerous records and authored dozens of books.
Bill continues to speak around the nation and inspire and educate people with his wisdom and wit. On Sunday, October 28, Austin will be lucky enough to enjoy two performances by Bill Cosby at The Bass Concert Hall on The University of Texas campus.
I was able to better understand what inspires and motivates Bill to continue to invigorate, educate and entertain audiences when he answered a few questions for me.
I asked about some of the struggles Bill faced growing up and how he has taken the lessons he learned from those struggles and integrated them into his personal life and career. Bill said that the obstacles were multiple and the answer to overcoming such obstacles is for people to talk to youngsters and recognize their problems and guide them.
Depending on each youngster’s resistance “you must stay on them until the bad choices are no longer a habit. This did not happen to me until I was in the Navy where bad choices could not sustain. There was the right way, the wrong way and the Navy way. Later, I began to see there is a need for me to get the message to young boys, particularly 7th and 8th graders, about mistakes they were making.”
Bill pointed out that when we observe our schools, there are still children not getting the adult attention and support they need. Bill even brought up the fact that the food served at many of the schools in our nation is poor and that our children need to be eating more well balanced meals.
Bill has been married for over 48 years and has raised five children and I wanted to know, from Bill Cosby’s standpoint, what are some of the keys to maintaining a healthy marriage and strong family. Bill noted that “these days most people come home from work and still have more work to do, but that work has nothing to do with their family.” Bill went on to say that joining in to fix dinner, talking at the dinner table, joining to clean the dishes and then joining to do school work together are many actions families do not partake in anymore. Bill said that simply “conversation, love and respect” are key points as well. It is vital that children respect their parents.
I wanted to end our conversation with one of Bill’s favorite quotes, which he said he saw on a plaque in a tennis pro shop, “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone.” And I can’t leave out this quote that originated from the real Cosby family, as Bill and his wife would say it to their children to motivate them to get their homework finished, “People who try to do as little as possible, do just that.” This continues to make his wife chuckle to this day.
WHEN: Sunday, October 28, 2012 at 6:30 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Bass Concert Hall
2350 East Campus Drive
Austin, Texas 78712
Purchase your tickets here.