As the heat turns up on comedian Bill Cosby–with more accusations of predatory behavior surfacing–it’s fascinating to watch the woman most inextricably linked with Cosby in the public mind speak about him. Phylicia Rashad played Claire Huxtable, lawyer and wife to Cosby’s patriarch on The Cosby Show for eight years. The Cosby Show was one of the most influential TV shows in history, and the easy intimacy between the husband and wife characters was a big part of its success. Last April in an interview with The Grio, Rashad talked about Cosby–and in light of the accusations the interview (like everything associated with Cosby now) is strange to watch.
Rashad, while enormously complimentary of her former co-star, never calls him by his first name–always referring to him reverentially (and distantly) as “Mr. Cosby.” (So much for that easy intimacy.) Talking about the influence of The Cosby Show–and the possibility that without it there would be no Barack Obama presidency–Rashad emotionally responds: “I think that is a great compliment to Mr. Cosby, because it was his sensibilities that were at the root of The Cosby Show.” When it was announced last spring that Cosby would return to TV with a new show, Rashad’s reaction was again reverential: “I am so grateful at just the prospect–the prospect–of his return to network television. It makes me so happy. So joyful.” She also said “Anytime Mr. Cosby calls, I’m there,” said Rashad. “But he’s not going to call me for this. And he doesn’t have to. And it’s just fine.” The interviewer asks why not? Rashad repeats again with strange emphasis: “he doesn’t have to and it’s just fine–okay?” Fine why? She won’t say. Check it out below.
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