Bill Cosby’s Far From Finished Tour
When: 8 p.m. Thursday
Where: The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa
Tickets: SOLD OUT
Because of the breadth of Bill Cosby’s body of work, he is different things to different generations.
“Your” Cosby, depending on how and when you were introduced to him, isn’t necessarily the same as another person’s Cosby.
And former Oklahoma State basketball coach Eddie Sutton is connected to Cosby in a way that has nothing to do with entertainment. Keep reading to find out how.
Cosby will take the stage for a sold-out show at The Joint inside the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa on Thursday.
Who’s ‘your’ Cosby?
Maybe your Cosby is the guy who made America laugh with comedy albums, the first of which was released 50 years ago. Vinyl-buyers smile when remembering his commentaries on Junior Barnes’ slushball, Tonto and Noah’s ark.
(In April, a Twitter user expressed disappointment that Cosby did not have a cameo in the 2014 “Noah” movie. Replied Cosby, “Don’t be disappointed, I’m not the original writer.”)
Maybe your Cosby is the guy who knocked down TV color barriers in the 1960s. The first African-American actor to star in a dramatic series, Cosby won three Emmys while playing the role of Alex Scott in “I Spy.”
Maybe your Cosby is the guy whose cartoon pals doled out Saturday morning life lessons in “Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids.” They’re going to sing a song or two — and you’re going to learn a thing or two. Cosby was recently name-dropped to Olympic wrestler Kenny Monday, and the gold medalist’s immediate reaction was “Hey, hey, hey!”
Maybe your Cosby is the guy who made you crave pudding. He began appearing in Jell-O pudding commercials in 1974. The pudding partnership carried over into a new millennium.
Or maybe your Cosby is Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable, who wore loud sweaters and was the central figure in one of the biggest hit series in television history. “The Cosby Show” is one of three programs (“All in the Family” and “American Idol” are the others) ever to be ranked No. 1 in the ratings over five consecutive years (1985-89).
Cosby is “far from finished” — that was the title of a 2013 televised concert special, his first in 30 years — and he could return to NBC for a new sitcom adventure in 2015.
Enough people covet Cosby’s words that he has accumulated 3.75 million Twitter followers. Cosby follows only six Twitter accounts: Sesame Street, Sinbad, his “Cosby Show” son Malcolm-Jamal Warner, MoviesonTCM, ESPN and PBS.
Cosby was a charter cast member on “The Electric Company,” a PBS educational show for kids that debuted in 1971. Somebody’s Cosby might be the “electric” Cosby.
The Tulsa World collected a sampling of “who’s your Cosby” observations:
Dari Nowkhah, ESPN personality and Tulsa native: Nowkhah’s Cosby is Dr. Huxtable. Nowkhah said Cosby also reminds him of “Big Daddy.” Who’s Big Daddy? It’s Nowkhah’s grandfather Darwin Eaton, who died in 2011. Eaton began donating blood to the Red Cross in 1946 and donated 42 gallons of blood during his lifetime. Said Nowkhah, “Bill Cosby is who we watched every Thursday night when we had dinner at my grandparents’ house.”
Chad Bonham, local author: Bonham said he was such a big “Fat Albert” fan that he named his first dog after the character. “But Dr. Huxtable was his role that continued to shape my strong appreciation for the black community’s impact on pop culture. Cosby was definitely a trailblazer and someone who helped break down color barriers in the world of entertainment.”
Van Malone, Oklahoma State cornerbacks coach and former NFL player: Malone’s Cosby is Mr. Clean. Said Malone, “He is a guy who represents comedy in a clean way. He is as funny as they come, but it is clean. No matter what the subject, he can clean it up.”
Claude Williams, Broken Arrow resident: Williams, an African-American, appreciates what Cosby brought to the table in “I Spy.” Said Williams, “He was the first black man (in a dramatic starring role) on TV, and he wasn’t a pimp or anything negative. Cosby is a smart, inspirational role model in my eyes.” Cosby’s work in “I Spy” was evidence to Williams that he could be seen an an equal.
Richard Hicks, Muscogee (Creek) Nation foster care caseworker: Hicks’ childhood coincided with “Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids.” Said Hicks, “What I liked about the show was how much they ragged on one another but were all still good friends.”
Craig Clary, Tulsa insurance agent: Clary’s Cosby is the Cosby from Grammy-winning albums. “I was born in 1959,” Clary said. “A friend played his Cosby album for me in 1968 or ‘69. His humor was understandable to a kid but appreciated by adults. My dad loved his stuff, too. Then a grown cousin introduced me to more of his routines. It gave me a connection to the grown-ups, and growing up was my primary wish as a kid.” Clary’s wife, Tracy, indicated her Cosby is the guy who pitched Jell-O Pudding Pops.
Tamatha Ogilvie, Locust Grove resident and Broken Arrow teacher: Ogilvie’s Cosby is Dr. Huxtable. “I just finished watching all the seasons again on Hulu,” she said. “I love the show because it is centered around family and it showed struggles of their kids with school and relationships. I guess I relate to Clair Huxtable because she always knew what was going on with her kids and she always knew what Cliff was up to, and she was the one in charge.”
Sherilyn Smith, Pryor business owner: “The Cosby Show” had an impact on Smith, who said, “Bill Cosby always had all the right answers and made you feel important.” And, big bonus, there were lots of laughs.
Scott Pettus, Northeastern State University assistant athletic director: Pettus’ Cosby is the Cosby who recorded comedy albums. Example: Cosby joked that his philosophy major girlfriend in college wondered aloud “Why is there air?” Cosby’s response: “Well, any phys. ed. major knows why there’s air: To blow up volleyballs, blow up basketballs.”
Eddie Sutton, former Oklahoma State basketball coach: Sutton’s Cosby is a consoler. After 10 members of OSU’s basketball travel delegation died in a 2001 plane crash, Cosby contacted Sutton to offer condolences. No stranger to tragedy, Cosby lost a son, Ennis, in 1997.
“He has just been a good friend and has called me from time to time,” Sutton said.
Sutton, who retired to Tulsa, said he visited Cosby (he’s a sports fan) backstage after the comedian’s last appearance here. Sutton is going back for more. He has tickets for Cosby’s show on Thursday at The Joint.
Bill Cosby timeline
1963: Cosby makes first “Tonight Show” appearance. He later becomes a guest host.
1964: Releases first comedy album, titled “Bill Cosby is a Very Funny Fellow… Right!” Seven Cosby albums would go on to win Grammys for best comedy performance.
1965: Teams with Robert Culp in “I Spy” and becomes first African-American to co-star in a dramatic TV series. Cosby parlays the role into three Emmys.
1968: The syndicated “Bill Cosby Radio Program” debuts.
1969: A Cosby TV special wins an Emmy for outstanding variety or musical program.
1969: "The Bill Cosby Show" begins a two-year run on NBC.
1971: Original cast member on the PBS children’s show “The Electric Company.”
1972: “The New Bill Cosby Show” airs.
1972: The “Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids” cartoon debuts.
1974: Cosby stars with Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte in the movie “Uptown Saturday Night.” Cosby reteams with Poitier for “Let’s Do It Again” the following year.
1974: Cosby begins his long stint as a Jell-O pudding pitch man.
1976: Variety show “Cos” debuts on ABC.
1984: “The Cosby Show” launches on NBC and becomes one of the most popular series in TV history.
1992: Cosby hosts a reboot of “You Bet Your Life.”
1994: “The Cosby Mysteries” TV series debuts.
1996: Cosby returns to the sitcom world with “Cosby” on CBS.
1998: Cosby begins hosting duties on “Kids Say the Darndest Things.”
1999: The Cosby-created “Little Bill” cartoon series debuts on Nick Jr.
2004: A live-action “Fat Albert” movie starring Kenan Thompson ("Saturday Night Live") is released.
2013: Cosby goes to Comedy Central for his first TV concert special in 30 years (“Bill Cosby: Far From Finished”).
2014: Cosby makes an appearance on the Jimmy Fallon-hosted version of “The Tonight Show.”
2014: NBC executives say a new Cosby sitcom could appear in 2015.