It is unbelievable to me that The Cosby Show is celebrating the 30th anniversary of its debut this September. The 24th to be exact. I watched the show religiously as did many millions of others and can – whenever I catch an episode of television today – vividly recall that period of
my life. Along with those memories the fondness for the characters and actors is also rekindled and I am newly reminded of the scope of the talent and influence of Bill Cosby – comedian, actor, educator and social critic.
To coincide with the anniversary of The Cosby Show Simon & Schuster is publishing the first ever major biography of Bill Cosby, Cosby: His Life and Times written by Mark Whitaker. I was thrilled when Stephen Bedford reached out to offer me an advanced copy of the book for review, as well as two copies to give away to those who may stop in to How Sweet it Was. Thank you, Mr. Bedford for your continued generosity. If you’re interested in reading an early copy of this book simply answer the following question in the comments below by Saturday, August 2nd:
In your opinion what is Bill Cosby’s greatest contribution to the world of entertainment?
The two winners will be chosen at random on Sunday, August 3rd and I will post the names on this blog, on Twitter @CitizenScreen, Facebook (Citizen Screen) and Tumblr (Citizen Screen). If you are one of the two lucky winners you will need to contact me within 48 hours of the announcement and provide mailing information so that the book can be sent to you without delay.
Please be aware that the copies available at this time are exclusive, uncorrected versions of Cosby: His Life and Times and do not include the photo spreads that will appear in the final, published book. There may also be typos that will be corrected in the final version, but you can have it before most other people. If you prefer the final publication, you can pre-order it here.
Cosby: His Life and Times tells the story of a fascinating life, the story of a man who dreamed big and whose dreams came true, but not without paying a price along the way. Cosby reads like a novel with details true to the style of a reporter, a position author Mark Whitaker held at Newsweek before he became editor of the national news weekly. Mr. Whitaker also held high position as part of the NBC News and CNN organizations. Cosby: His Life and Times spans Bill Cosby’s life – from his difficult upbringing in a Philadelphia housing project, to his rise to fame and fortune, through trials and tribulations and finally up to his life and career today, which is “Far from Finished” as the actor titled his latest concert film.
While I really enjoyed reading the behind-the-scenes details of how The Cosby Show came to be my favorite section of Cosby: His Life and Times is dedicated to the details of his
breakout role in I Spy in 1965 when Bill Cosby became the first African-American man to co-star on a television show. It was thanks to the fame Cosby achieved on I Spy that the other aspects of his career – concerts and recordings – made him rich. Although I haven’t seen I Spy in years I remember it’s a fantastic program executive produced by the television legend of Sheldon Leonard for Desilu.
Also interesting in relation to the I Spy story, of course, is all having to do with the fantastic Robert Culp who co-starred with Cosby in the series and learning how the Cosby family adjusted to the actor’s newly acquired fame and fortune. Like, for instance, when Bill took his mother Anna to visit the Desilu lot and introduced her to Andy Griffiths. “Mom, this is Andy Griffiths,” Cosby said. “Oh my God,” the disoriented Anna gasped – and she slapped Griffith’s face.
Anyway, there are lots of those types of funny stories and many other poignant ones in this book, certainly far too much was enjoyed by this reader to mention them all. In fact, I loved the book and couldn’t put it down. If you are a fan of classic television I recommend Cosby: His Life and Times as an essential read. If you’ve watched television at all during the last five decades then it is likely Bill Cosby has touched your life. If not by way of The Cosby Show or I Spy then perhaps through his children programming and the popular Fat Albert cartoons or even his famous Jello commercials. In your case I recommend Cosby: His Life and Times because it is an essential read.
Good luck to those of you who try for the exclusive giveaway. Note, however, that this give-a-way is open to residents in the continental U.S. only. My apologies to my Canadian friends or those who live in Hawaii, Alaska or other far away places.