Famous for playing an adoring and caring father on screen, Bill Cosby was anything but in real life and repeatedly cheated on his wife while leading a playboy lifestyle, a new book claims.
Cosby: His Life and Times by Mark Whitaker goes beyond the comedian’s trademark whimsical style and warm smile to allege a sordid and lavish life of infidelity and aggression.
Allegations of a hard-partying lady’s man who repeatedly cheated on his loyal wife Camille are detailed in Whitaker’s book. The biography paints a fascinating picture of a deeply flawed and complicated man who has battled personal tragedy during his hugely successful career.
At its peak, The Cosby Show was earning its star a staggering $1 million an episode. Whitaker writes about the significant cultural impact it had on American society, breaking down racial barriers with its portrayal of an African American family. For a man who grew up in poverty and shined shoes for a living as a young man, Cosby’s sudden wealth and success was a world away from his roots - a world that including private jets and luxury cars.
That success fuelled a playboy lifestyle that included affair after affair, wild parties in Las Vegas and an over-the-top obsession for the finer things in life, says the book.
Despite repeatedly promising his wife that he would settle down and become loyal to her, romantic indiscretions continued for decades to come, Whitaker writes.
Cosby, now 77, has been no stranger to controversy. Cosby was accused of sexual assault as part of a damning lawsuit that he later settled out of court. And in the late 1980s and early ‘90s, revelations of a secret love child, who had tried to extort money from the funnyman, played out in tabloids.
The author gives insight into what he describes as an infamous short fuse and violent temper.
Whitaker details an incident that took place in 1977 at the Playboy Mansion, when Cosby coward-punched fellow comic Tommy Smothers.
“Cosby was so furious that he couldn’t control himself,” Whitaker writes. “He slipped around (Hugh) Hefner and punched Smothers in the head from behind, so hard that the smaller comedian fell to the ground.”
Hefner was forced to pull the two men apart in a bizarre altercation that began when Cosby interpreted a compliment from Smothers as a slight.
Similarly, Cosby lashed out on the set of his iconic TV hit The Cosby Show. He attacked a cameraman one day and again had to be restrained by an onlooker, Whitaker writes.
Each week, tens of millions of viewers tuned in to watch the Huxtable family go about its life. It made Cosby a star and saw him amass extraordinary wealth.
But Cosby’s life was marred by personal tragedy on numerous occasions, including daughter Erinn’s battle with drug addiction, Whitaker details in the book. And it’s said Cosby never really recovered from the shooting death of his son Ennis in Los Angeles in 1997.
After Ennis’s death, Cosby commissioned portraits and bust statues of his son and would speak to them as though they could hear him, Whitaker claims.
And on the health front, a severe case of glaucoma has robbed Cosby of most of the vision in both eyes, he writes.
“The vision in the first eye and then in the other would slowly but irreversibly deteriorate. It took a decade for others to realise that anything was wrong.”
Despite all this, Cosby continues to spend more than half the year travelling the United States to perform in stand-up comedy clubs and at special showcase events.