TV

Checking In With The Cast Of ‘The Cosby Show’ 30 Years Later

Break out your best or worst multicolored sweater and fix yourself a bowl of pudding, because The Cosby Show is celebrating its 30th anniversary. Along with Cheers and Night Court, The Cosby Show helped make NBC a sitcom juggernaut in the 1980s and was the #1 show on television for five years in a row. Based on Bill Cosby’s stand-up act about raising his own family, America tuned in week after week to watch Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable navigate the waters of parenthood while living in an upper-class neighborhood of Brooklyn.

Originally, Bill Cosby had envisioned the Huxtables as a blue-collar family with his character working as a limo driver and his wife holding down an electrician job. It was Cosby’s wife who suggested that he give the Huxtables white-collar jobs and show an upper middle-class African-American family, something that the American TV audience hadn’t seen before. The move obviously paid off, and the blend of comedy and serious subjects like teen pregnancy helped the show snag six Emmys and two Golden Globes over the course of its eight seasons.

It’s been 22 years since we said goodbye to the Huxtables, and now seems like as good a time as ever to catch up with the cast and find out what they’ve been up to over the years.

Dr. Cliff Huxtable (Bill Cosby)

Bill Cosby is an American institution. Yellowstone National Park, apple pie, Bill Cosby. He’s been national entertainment staple since the early 1960s with his first role on the spy caper I Spy, right up through the 70s with Fat Albert, and into the 80s and 90s of course with The Cosby Show and The Cosby Mysteries.

Bill Cosby never made many movies — though I do recall enjoying Ghost Dad as a kid — and he’s only done a handful of television shows following The Cosby Show, but he maintains a full stand-up schedule. He’s spending the rest of 2014 crisscrossing across the United States doing 33 concerts before taking a brief break in December and then picking up again in January. Cosby also makes regular appearances on the late night TV circuit, like his recent imparting of knowledge about sex as a senior citizen to Jimmy Fallon, and of course is a frequent speaker at colleges and events like the Playboy Jazz Festival.

Clair Hanks Huxtable (Phylicia Rashad)

Phylicia Rashad had been a regular on Broadway before joining the Huxtable family and keeping Theo in line. Following The Cosby Show, Rashad rejoined Bill as his wife “Ruth Lucas” for four years on the sitcom Cosby, and has gone on to appear in Psych, Everybody Hates Chris, and The Life & Times of Tim. In 2004, she took home a Tony Award for her work in the Broadway run of A Raisin in the Sun, and in 2010 appeared in the film For Colored Girls.

Rudy Huxtable (Keshia Knight Pulliam)

Following her run as the Huxtable’s youngest daughter, Keshia Knight Pulliam took a brief break from acting to earn a Bachelor’s degree from Spleman College in 2001. From 2007-2012 she was a regular cast member on the TBS show House of Payne and in 2013 appeared in the TV movie The Love Letter and now defunct TV series Guys with Kids. She also proved that competitive diving isn’t really her strong point, as she was the first to be eliminated on the celebrity diving show Splash. (Yeah, I have no idea either.)

Theo Huxtable (Malcolm-Jamal Warner)

Providing the Huxtables with a weekly dose of aggravation as their only son Theo, Malcom-Jamal Warner has had a steady career of smaller TV and movie roles following the end of The Cosby Show. He slugged out four years next to Eddie Griffin on the UPN series Malcom & Eddie, and has had spots and recurring cameos on Dexter, Community, and the TNT drama Major Crimes. Currently, he’s showing up in the final season of Sons of Anarchy.

Vanessa Huxtable (Tempestt Bledsoe)

After her role as Huxtable’s middle child came to an end, Tempestt Bledsoe went on to earn a finance degree from NYU and appear in a series of TV movies that you probably haven’t heard of (Santa and Pete??). She’s been in a relationship with Cosby Show spin-off A Different World actor Darryl M. Bell since the early 90s and has had roles in the TV show Guys with Kids, ParaNorman, and in 2014 appeared in a show called Instant Mom.

Denise Huxtable (Lisa Bonet)

Next to her role as the Huxtable’s second oldest daughter, Lisa Bonet is probably best known for her six-year marriage to Lenny Kravitz. As far as her film roles go, she’s had memorable parts in movies like High Fidelity and Enemy of the State, and had a brief run in the short-lived 2008 series Life on Mars. Currently, she can be seen in various intoxicated historical roles on Drunk History.

Sondra Huxtable Tibideaux (Sabrina Le Beauf)

Sabrina Le Beuf played the role of the Huxtable’s oldest daughter, despite only being 10 years younger than Phylicia Rashad. This could be why we only saw Sabrina on 53 episodes out of the series’ 197. Le Beuf’s film and TV roles have been pretty minimal since The Cosby Show ended, with one appearance on Cosby in 1999 and a part on the short-lived animated series Fatherhood in 2004-2005. Most recently she’s been working with Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, DC appearing in Taming of the Shrew.

Elvin Tibideaux (Geoffrey Owens)

After his role as Sondra’s husband came to an end, Geoffrey Owens has gone on to carve out a solid career with smaller parts in television series like Boston Legal, Medium, and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (Eagles tryouts and fake Tiger Woods). Most recently he’s been seen on the uber depressing HBO drama The Leftovers.

Russell Huxtable (Earle Hyman)

Actor Earle Hyman’s earliest role dates back to 1945’s The Lost Weekend and he later went on to appear in shows like The Edge of the Night and Thundercats before signing on as the elder statesman of the Huxtable clan. The 87-year-old Hyman hasn’t done much acting over the last decade with his last role being in on the TV series Twice in a Lifetime in 2001.

Olivia Kendall (Raven-Symoné)

Ah, little Olivia. Every family sitcom needs a cute kid to say sassy things and the addition of Raven-Symoné interacting with Bill Cosby as Denise’s step-daughter provided the show a fresh spark. After The Cosby Show came to a close, Symoné did the thing that all female child stars do — put out an album. People typically don’t rush out to buy a hip-hop album released by a 7-year-old and Here’s to New Dreams failed to sell more than 73,000 units. Symoné latter had a regular role on Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper before starring in her Disney Channel show That’s So Raven from 2003-2007. These days the actress is doing a lot of cartoon voiceover work and in May announced that she would be entering the Academy of Art in San Francisco as a full-time student.

Updated: an earlier version listed Olivia as Sondra’s daughter. Apologies to all the Cosmaniacs.

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