The Cosby Show Cast — where are they now?
The Cosby Show did not have a particularly long run on television. The popular show centered around an upper middle class African American family and ran for eight seasons, from 1984 to 1992.
Critics consider The Cosby Show one of the greatest television shows of all time. The Cosby Show literally changed the way African Americans were portrayed on television, and paved the way for African American television stars of today.
America fell in love with the Huxtable family — from husband and wife Cliff and Claire (a doctor and a lawyer respectively) to Rudy, Vanessa, Theodore, Sondra, Denise, and all the rest. What has become of the actors who blessed us with their presence faithfully every Thursday night?
Bill Cosby attempted to revamp the on screen magic he shared with Phylicia Rashad in a spinoff, called “Cosby”. The show was popular, but never had anywhere near the ratings that “The Cosby Show” had, and coupled with the tragic death of his son Ennis, forced the show to cancel. These days, Bill Cosby is best known for his controversial statements about the black community, often attacking African Americans in the media for their negative behavior. Cosby has stayed in the spotlight, guest hosting for David Letterman when the talk show host was out of work dealing with a heart attack.
Phylicia Rashad became the first black actress to win a Leading Actress Tony award for her amazing and critically praised role in the Broadway revival of ‘A Raisin in the Sun’ co-starring rap mogul Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs. A television movie version of the play earned her an Emmy as well as an award from the NAACP. She’s appeared in guest roles on shows as varied as ‘Everybody Hates Chris’ and ‘Psych.’ Recently, Rashad has appeared as a spokesperson for Jenny Craig.
Sabrina LeBeauf, who played eldest child Sondra Huxtable Tibideaux, attempted to continue her television career once “The Cosby Show” went off the air, but after a few guest appearances on ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation,’ ‘Cosby,’ and ‘Fatherhood,’ Lebeauf decided to enroll in UCLA’s Professional Interior Design Program. Today, LeBeauf owns her own successful interior design business. She continues to perform as an actress on stage, including a critically acclaimed role in the Classical Theatre of Harlem production Chekhov’s Three Sisters”.
Geoffrey Owens, who played Sondra Huxtable’s slightly chauvinistic husband Elvin Tibideaux, has continued his career in television, appearing in multiple minor roles. His screen credits include work with “Cosby Show” castmate Raven Symoné on her show ‘That’s So Raven.’ He’s also had minor stints on ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,’ ‘Medium,’ ‘Boston Legal’ and ‘Without a Trace.’
Lisa Bonet, who portrayed troubled second child Denise Huxtable, was a controversial character in real life as well. After she became pregnant with then up and coming musician Lenny Kravtiz’ child, she was quickly written off the show. The season after she left the show, Bonet came back after a surprise marriage to a Naval officer, and with a daughter in tow. In 1991, the “creative differences” between Bonet and the show’s executives led to her final exit from the “Cosby” world. She did not appear in the series finale. Allegations of Bonet’s drug use have never been confirmed. Bonet has had bit parts in films like ‘Enemy of the State’ and even had a major film role in the John Cusack vehicle ‘High Fidelity.’ Bonet worked with ‘Different World’ co-star Kadeem Hardison on the film ‘Biker Boyz,’ and most recently had a supporting role on the ABC series ‘Life on Mars’, in which she played Sam Tyler’s modern day girlfriend. Bonet has three children – a son with the unlikely name of Nakoa-Wolf Manakauapo Namakaeha Momoa (the child of her and actor Jason Momoa), and two daughters — Zoe Kravitz and Lola Iolani Momoa.
Joseph C. Phillips played Martin Kendall, the surprise husband of Denise Huxtable. Though Kendall had a very stiff and military personality, the Cosby family came to love and accept him, and his daughter from a previous marriage, Olivia. Phillips continues a succesfull career both in Hollywood and in his private life. For four years he played Justus Ward on the soap opera ‘General Hospital’, and had additional roles in ‘Vanished,’ ‘Without a Trace,’ ‘The Parkers,’ ‘King of Queens,’ ‘Popular’ and ‘Las Vegas.’ Phillips has returned to regular series TV work as the mayor in the upcoming show ‘Castle.’ Phillips has taken a sort of political turn to his career, as a conservative speaker with regular appearances on National Public Radio. Phillips has published a semi autobiographical book called ‘He Talk Like a White Boy.’
Malcolm-Jamal Warner has had some success in television, with more than a few failures along the way. His starred in his own show “Malcolm and Eddie” for four full seasons before the plug was pulled. Warner also released an album in 2003 that went mostly unnoticed. He is married to fellow “Cosby Show” alum Karen Malina White.
Tempestt Bledsoe, who played the young Vanessa Huxtable, enjoyed a very brief run as a talk show host in ‘The Tempestt Bledsoe Show,’ which was critically ignored and only lasted a year. Bledsoe then had a recurring role on ‘The Practice’ and guest spots on ‘The Parkers,’ ‘Strong Medicine,’ and ‘Raising the Bar.’ She lends her voice to the role of Abbey on the Disney show ‘The Replacements’. Bledsoe participated in the third season of ‘Celebrity Fit Club.’ In late summer 2009 she will be seen in the Fox Reality series ‘Househusbands’ with her hubby, ‘A Different World’ star Darryl M. Bell.
Keshia Knight Pulliam, who played the feisty and hilarious Rudith “Rudy” Huxtable, graduated from Spelman College in 2001 with a degree in sociology and won both ‘Celebrity Fear Factor’ and a celebrity version of ‘The Weakest Link.’ She has starred in two Tyler Perry projects — the TV series ‘Tyler Perry’s House of Payne’ and a major role in the film ‘Madea Goes to Jail,’ where she shook her wholesome image by playing a prostitute. We will never forget Rudy lip syncing “Night and Day” with her family.
Raven-Symoné, who played the step child Olivia Kendall, is no doubt the most successful Cosby kid. Symoné has been in showbiz since the show went off the air. She’s had roles in ‘Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper,’ ‘Dr. Dolittle,’ ‘The Cheetah Girls,’ ‘Fat Albert,’ ‘The Princess Diaries 2,’ ‘Kim Possible’ and of course her own series ‘That’s So Raven,’ for which she also worked as a producer. She recently held the starring role and was the executive producer of the film ‘College Road Trip’. According to Hollywood rumors, Symone is rumored to star alongside Miley Cyrus in an ‘Adventures in Babysitting’ sequel that is due out in 2010. Symoné has also had something of a successful singing career, releasing several albums since 1993.