There’s really no other way of putting it: The Cosby Show revolutionized the art of the sitcom. From 1984 to 1992, the series followed the lives of the affluent Huxtable family, headed by affable OB/GYN patriarch Cliff and regal lawyer matriarch Clair.
Cosby marked a turning point in the representation of African-Americans on television. Unlike previous shows, including The Jeffersons and Good Times, which portrayed African-Americans in stereotypical, cartoonish roles, The Cosby Show presented a reality in which they were fully-realized, educated, successful people.
The show also captivated tens of millions of viewers. Its two highest watched seasons pulled in an average of 30.5 million viewers each. Even its final and lowest viewed season garnered 13.8 million viewers on average, which is more than most shows nowadays can boast. In addition to being a ratings hit, it was critically beloved, receiving over 100 awards wins and nominations combined.
In recent years, The Cosby Show has had an irregular history of syndication due to behind-the-scenes scandals; nevertheless, its status as an iconic series remains. While some of its many cast members are still in the public eye to date, others have taken a step back.
So, just in case you want to catch up with all of your favorite Cosby kids, or even an adult or two, here’s a quick list of Where Are They Now? The Cast Of The Cosby Show.
15. Denise Huxtable-Kendall – Lisa Bonet
Both on and off screen, Denise was always the most controversial of the Huxtable children. Whether it was leaving to star in a spinoff that she left after one season, dropping out of college, or secretly marrying and becoming a stepmother, she was always full of surprises.
Her portrayer, Lisa Bonet, is full of fun personal and professional surprises all her own. In recent years, she’s had guest appearances on shows as different as New Girl, Girls, and Ray Donovan.
Personally, her life covers a whole lot of exciting ground as well. In 1987, a 20-year-old Bonet married Lenny Kravitz, giving birth to their daughter– and current bonafide star– Zoë Kravitz a year later.
Although their marriage dissolved in 1993, Bonet later married Jason Momoa of Game of Thrones and DCEU fame in 2007, and together, the couple has a daughter, Lola Iolani, and a son, Nakoa-Wolf.
14. Vanessa Huxtable – Tempestt Bledsoe
If Denise was the most controversial Huxtable child, then Vanessa was perhaps the quintessential annoying sitcom child. Prone to tantrums and acting out, she displayed all the hallmarks of Middle TV Child Syndrome– all without actually being the middle child.
After wrapping The Cosby Show in 1992, Tempestt Bledsoe has continued to work steadily in the acting world. Her wide-ranging filmography includes guest stints on shows such as The Practice, The Parkers, South of Nowhere, and the animated series The Replacements. She also had a leading role on the short-lived sitcom Guys With Kids opposite Anthony Anderson.
And it just goes to show you that sometimes Hollywood can be a pretty small world. Bledsoe has been in a relationship with actor Darryl M. Bell, who starred on Cosby‘s spinoff series A Different World, for the past 24 years.
13. Smitty – Adam Sandler
Although he only appeared in a handful of episodes during season 4, Smitty was a key part of Theo’s group of unconventional friends. Some of Smitty’s bright ideas led to some of the group’s worst experiences, including the time they decided to rent a helicopter for prom, which… went about as well as you could expect. The character also marked Adam Sandler’s first onscreen role.
Sandler, of course, would go on to become a big name in comedy, including five years on Saturday Night Live and a whole catalog of movies like Happy Gilmore, Billy Madison, The Wedding Singer, Big Daddy, Click, Grown Ups, and many, many more.
12. Rudy Huxtable – Keshia Knight Pulliam
As the youngest and clearly most adorable member of the Huxtable clan, Rudy Huxtable stole the hearts of the audiences everywhere. The character was so beloved and richly comedic that Keshia Knight Pulliam received the distinct honor of being the youngest ever actress to be nominated for the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Emmy when she was only six years old.
In the years since Cosby went off the air in 1992, Knight Pulliam has had lead roles in shows such as Tyler Perry’s House of Payne and movies including Madea Goes to Jail.
She married former football player Edgerton Hartwell in January 2016, and though the couple are currently in divorce proceedings, Pulliam welcomed her first child, daughter Ella Grace, in January 2017.
11. Sondra Huxtable-Tibideaux – Sabrina La Beauf
The eldest of the Huxtable children, Sondra was (usually) the picture of responsibility. An incredibly intelligent aspiring lawyer, Princeton graduate, and mother of twins Winnie and Nelson, she received the least focus of the core Huxtable family, probably since her life was comparatively put together much of the time.
Just as Sondra moved from career to career a few times over the course of the series, actress Sabrina Le Beauf has had an expansive career in multiple fields. In addition to her years as Sondra, she has had appearances on Star Trek: The Next Generation and the animated series Fatherhood. She has also performed extensively in theater, including multiple off-Broadway productions.
Currently, as her Twitter bio states, she is an interior designer and an innkeeper living in Maui.
10. Elvin Tibideaux – Geoffrey Owens
Sondra’s lovable but idiotic husband, Elvin, was a source of frustration and amusement in equal measure for his entire run on the series. Often openly misogynistic, which led him into conflict with the staunchly feminist Clair on many occasions, Elvin was the closest the show came to having a lovable oaf– if it weren’t for the fact that he was also an esteemed med student.
In addition to his career-defining turn as Elvin Tibideaux, Geoffrey Owens has a lengthy filmography with guest starring roles in shows such as Law & Order, That’s So Raven, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and most recently an episode of Fox’s Lucifer.
A graduate of Yale University, he has also built a career as an esteemed Broadway actor, starring in plays from Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, and David Mamet among others.
He has staged and directed many plays, taught at venues such as the Herbert Berghof Studio and Yale, oversees the judging of Lincoln Center’s National Shakespeare Competition, and currently teaches Shakespeare-focused workshops.
9. Kenny/Bud – Deon Richmond
Sometimes, what they say about good things coming in small packages is really true. You’d have to look no further than The Cosby Show‘s Kenny, or “Bud,” to find one of the show’s standout characters whose hilarious comedic timing and frank manner of speaking has stood the test of time.
As Rudy’s best friend for most of the series, Bud is larger than life in every way but physical. The pint-size charmer is always looking to make a quick buck and in search of the best way to land a girl.
After his tenure as Bud, Deon Richmond went on to star in the short-lived sitcom Getting By, before later landing the role of Jordan Bennett in the last few seasons of Sister, Sister. He’s also been in teen-focused films including Scream 3, Not Another Teen Movie, and Van Wilder: Party Liaison.
8. Rusell Huxtable – Earle Hyman
In each of his 40 appearances on The Cosby Show, Cliff’s father, Russell Huxtable, provided gentlemanly gravitas and grandfatherly warmth in abundance. A talented orator, jazz musician, and war veteran, Russell and his beloved wife Anna were lovingly critical of their son Heathcliff and zealously devoted to each and every one of their grandchildren, no matter how foolish their antics could be.
The vibrant character was only brought to life so successfully through the performance of the esteemed actor Earle Hyman. A Tony-nominated and Emmy-nominated star, Hyman’s career in both Hollywood and Broadway has spanned over 50 years.
This included roles in Broadway productions of The Merchant of Venice and Waiting for Godot, and starring roles in telefilms of countless Shakespeare adaptations. He also voiced Panthro in the ’80s animated series Thundercats.
In a 2014 interview with Jet Magazine, the now 90-year-old Hyman described his current status as a working actor quite simply: “You never retire. Acting is in my blood.”
7. Pam Tucker – Erika Alexander
It’s never an easy thing, writing in a character for the ostensible purpose of replacing one who has left the show for good or for a set amount of time. The Cosby Show faced this problem in particular with cousin Pam Tucker.
She was introduced in seasons 7 and 8 as a relative of Clair’s who comes from a far more inner city, non-normative family background than the wealth and comfort the Huxtables are acquainted to. In some ways, it was an attempt for the show to keep up with the changing youth politics of the time; but in execution, it just didn’t work.
Yet Pam’s controversial reception hasn’t affected Erika Alexander’s career at all. Alexander went on to star as Maxine Shaw in Living Single from 1993-1998, with roles in movies including The Long Walk Home, Love Liza, and 2017’s smash hit Get Out. She has also recently featured in recurring role on Bosch, Queen Sugar, and Beyond.
6. Peter Chiara – Peter Costa
In the earliest seasons of The Cosby Show, Rudy’s closest friend was the eternally shy and wonderfully mischievous neighbor, Peter Chiara. With memorable hijinks including the time the two ruined Cliff’s prized juicer, the more laid back Peter stood out as a perfect foil to Rudy’s too cute to handle charm.
According to actor Peter Costa’s IMDb, he didn’t continue on with his career much further beyond his 13 episodes as Peter Chiara. In addition to appearances as himself in The Flamingo Kid and The Cosby Show: A Look Back, his only two other credits are the 1989 film The Lemon Sisters and the 2003 film To Be Legendary.
Although he did not continue with his acting as he got older, Costa has a career in a similar area. He has been a drummer for multiple New Jersey-based metal and experimental bands including Torrential Downpour and the Kreptatka Bar Band.
5. Walter “Cockroach” Bradley – Carl Anthony Payne II
Rudy wasn’t the only Huxtable kid to have a memorable best friend. For 12 episodes across seasons 2 through 4, Walter “Cockroach” Bradley was Theo Huxtable’s best friend and charming partner in crime.
The two frequently produced raps for school assignments, concocted ridiculous schemes to win girls, and, in Cockroach’s last episode, had a fight about who could appear on the TV show Dance Mania.
According to long-standing rumors, Carl Anthony Payne II got into a disagreement with Bill Cosby regarding Payne’s appearance and preference for longer hair, which resulted in Cockroach being written out of the show without a word.
Yet since Payne was no longer on Cosby, he was able to go on to have a starring role in the popular sitcom Martin. In addition to other roles in numerous TV movies and bit parts in sitcoms, Payne has also worked in stand up comedy, directing, producing, and hosting acting workshops.
4. Olivia Kendall – Raven-Symoné
This is an unfortunately all too common occurrence in sitcoms: when the youngest and cutest child star has aged out of their adorable stage, a new and often more annoying child star is brought in to pick up the cuteness title.
Enter Olivia Kendall, Denise’s step-daughter thanks to her marriage to Martin Kendall. Olivia was snootier than Rudy and frequently bickered with Cliff, which made for a sometimes amusing, but often irritating dynamic.
Whether you were a fan of Olivia or not, there’s no denying that her role showed audiences one of the earliest glimpses of Raven-Symoné’s impressive comedic talent.
After Cosby, Raven would go on to have prominent roles in Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper and Kim Possible, before landing the show that would really make her a household name: That’s So Raven. Now, she’s returned to her roots, starring in the spinoff series Raven’s Home on Disney Channel.
3. Theo Huxtable – Malcolm-Jamal Warner
Perhaps the Huxtable child with the greatest development over the course of the series, Theo Huxtable began season 1 as the stereotypical teenage slacker, and concluded the series as a college graduate prepared to embark on a career in psychology.
Diagnosed in the later years with dyslexia, Theo worked as a student teacher in an inner city center and reached out in particular to help students who showed signs of dyslexia, so that they could have an earlier intervention than he did.
Since Cosby ended, Malcolm-Jamal Warner has been a constant presence on TV, including starring roles on shows such as Malcolm & Eddie, Listen Up, and Reed Between the Lines.
He has also had recurring roles on shows including Community, Major Crimes, Suits, and The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story. Currently, he can be seen on Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce, with his next series Ten Days in the Valley premiering on ABC this fall.
2. Clair Huxtable – Phylicia Rashad
To this day, Clair Huxtable remains one of the best sitcom moms of all time. Hard working, supremely intelligent, deeply affectionate, and always in control, Clair was the pinnacle of refined elegance and motherly warmth. Unafraid to speak her mind in any situations, she led the household far better than husband Cliff ever could, keeping the Huxtable machine moving as smoothly as it did for all those years.
A three-time Emmy nominee, Phylicia Rashad’s cultural significance extends so much further than the inimitable Clair Huxtable. In addition to starring in the later sitcom Cosby opposite her onscreen husband Bill Cosby once again, Rashad has a rich history in the theater.
In 2004, she won the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play for her performance as Lena Younger in A Raisin in The Sun. She has also appeared in productions of Gem of the Ocean, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, August: Osage County, and Head of Passes.
1. Cliff Huxtable – Bill Cosby
As paternal as he was childish, Heathcliff “Cliff” Huxtable was the hardworking, fun-loving father everyone wished they had. Never one to turn away from a joke or mischief, he was often in more trouble than his children were; yet he remained wholly devoted to his work as an OB/GYN and to his family, no matter how out of control the house could get even on his rare days off.
From 1994-1995, Bill Cosby starred in The Cosby Mysteries, followed by the sitcom Cosby from 1996-2000. At the same time, he hosted the short-lived series Kids Say the Darnedest Things and created the animated series Little Bill for Nickelodeon.
Since the 2010s, many women have come forward to accuse him of sexual misconduct; however, so far only one trial has occurred in June 2017, which ended in a deadlocked jury and mistrial
What other cast members of The Cosby Show do you still think about that we didn’t talk about here? Let us know in the comments!
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