By Veronica Dudo
With a career spanning six decades, Bill Cosby has captivated generations of fans with his signature comedy routines which have been featured in televisions series, animated cartoons, on stage, in recorded albums and in bestselling books. This beloved comedian has entertained audiences throughout his 49 year career and has also worked to promote the importance of education. On July 27th, the comedic legend brings his tour to Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City. During a recent phone interview, Cosby spoke about his long-lasting career, his time at Temple University, why education is vital for today’s youth and his love of classic cinema.
Cosby first took the industry by storm with his story telling style in the 1960’s. He says this particular style has given him a lot of creative freedom during his career.
“This style, this storytelling that I have is totally American, an American style. It is my style, the punctuation, the hesitation but it is not so pedantic.” Cosby says.
After appearing on many popular variety programs including “The Ed Sullivan Show,” Cosby got his big break on the series, “I Spy.” He also starred in a number of movies and recorded albums of his award winning comedy routines. Cosby was also the comedic genius behind “Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids” and “The Cosby Show.”
With multiple Emmy Awards, Grammy’s, Golden Globes and a long list of additional accolades, Cosby truly enjoys his job of making people laugh.
Born and raised in Philadelphia, Cosby attended the Mary Channing Wister Elementary School. Little did he know his sixth grade year would forever change his life. Mary B. Forchic, his mother’s former schoolmate at the Philadelphia High School for Girls, was his teacher that year. Together the pair had a specific plan for Cosby’s academic performance.
“My mother, upon meeting her and having not seen her since high school, told her to make sure to get me,” he recalls, “I performed from failing to outstanding in everything [that year] but she wrote in the report card, ‘I’m just afraid, as William moves to the seventh grade that he will not be monitored and will then fall back on his old habits.’ And I did,” Cosby remembers.
Learning to have confidence in his academic ability paired with hard work would later be the cornerstone of Cosby’s time at Temple University after he served in the United States Navy.
“They put me in remedial everything at Temple University and I will tell you I was the happiest 23 year old in remedial everything. I was there and I now knew what I had to do,” he said about his decision to become a physical education teacher.
“I would teach in junior high school in lower economic or even below poverty neighborhoods seventh and eighth grade to stop these boys and girls from thinking the way I thought. To have them understand responsibility, to have them understand the love for education and the possibility that they are able to get out of being what they were marked as they were in their bassinets—disadvantaged and at-risk—that through education they can get themselves up and out and be with career and jobs—their choice,” he explains.
Even before entering the entertainment spotlight, Cosby wanted to spread a message of hope to the youth of tomorrow about the importance of education. Decades later, he continues to travel across the country speaking at numerous colleges and universities. He especially enjoys giving some sincere suggestions to college freshman.
“If you know that you’ve chosen so and so college because it’s a place that you want to get your education then you have to behave that way. Now, as you begin to be faced with the challenges and the temptations causing compromise, this is what you will be charged with, so that if you come out of college having graduated but just wanting to pass, taking in to account that your behavior was that of procrastination and just learning enough so that you would be able to recognize something and pass, that you’ve done a great disservice to your own potential,” he says.
While growing up in Philadelphia, Cosby remembers going to see movies as a kid. He spent many happy afternoons watching kid friendly adventures that didn’t contain profanity, explicit violence or nudity.
“I was able to go on a Saturday afternoon and see cowboys and cartoons and a serial—we called them chapters in our neighborhood in the Projects in Philadelphia,” he shares.
Those classic films left a lasting impression on the entertainer so when Ted Turner’s, cable station, Turner Classic Movies debuted Cosby was a supporter.
“The station meant a lot to me because there was no profanity at the time so I went in and I volunteered to do some commercials for them and they accepted,” he explained of his partnership with TCM adding, “The first one we did, we did a take-off of film noir and they looked that way and I was very proud to do that.”
Cosby also sat down with TCM’s primetime host, Robert Osborne to discuss his favorite films. Cosby says he and his wife often watch the channel especially enjoying Osborne’s film introductions. “He is so super, super wonderful; he is a guiding light,” Cosby says.
With football season approaching, Cosby—a lifelong Eagles fan—gives his prediction for this year. “Over the past couple of decades, I am a person wanting the Eagles to win the championship but I also have this feeling that something is going to happen to a player or players: injury and we won’t be able to finish strongly—it always pops up; but I wish and I will follow and I will root and that’s about it,” He says.
Throughout his life, this native Philadelphian and legendary entertainer has truly lived out his hometown’s nickname, the City of Brotherly Love, while addressing social issues and encouraging family values.
BUZZ @ THE BEACH
For the July 27 weekend, the Atlantic City Food & Wine Festival hits town featuring appearances by Paula Deen, Robert Irvine, Buddy the “Cake Boss” Valastro, Anne Burrell, Andrew Zimmern, Nadia G and Tyler Florence. Borgata welcomes Joel McHale; Seth Meyers; and Steve Aoki along with the 3rd Annual Evening of Comedy with Steve Schirripa, Joey Kola, Patty Rosborough and Vic DiBitetto. Jennifer Lopez and Enrique Iglesias bring their world tour to historic Boardwalk Hall while the Summerland Tour 2012 hits Revel with Everclear, Sugar Ray, Gin Blossoms, Lit and Marcy Playground. Friday, Melissa Gorga from The Real Housewives of New Jersey hosts the party at the Pool After Dark; then Jamie Kennedy hosts Epic Saturdays. Bill Cosby brings his comedy to Harrah’s and Meat Loaf will perform at the House of Blues. On July 31, Donny and Marie begin their week long engagement at Caesars.