The philanthropist and renowned TV producer Camille Cosby has been a great supporter of her husband, Bill Cosby, from the early years of their marriage.
The couple who share five children lost their only son in 1997. Camille Cosby was a cautious mother and had spoken to her son the night before he was shot dead.
She had told him to be careful as she was worried about the growing crime rates on the freeway in Los Angeles and racial issues in the country.
Photo of Bill Cosby on “The Cosby Show” (left), Camille Cosby at the 35th Anniversary of the Jackie Robinson Foundation on March 3, 2008, in New York (right), Photo of Ennis Cosby in winter January 25, 1977 | Photo: Getty Images
Popularly known as Bill Cosby, William Henry Cosby Jr., the oldest of four boys, was born July 12, 1937, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in a public housing complex.
Accounts from his school years portray a prankster and storyteller who loved to entertain his classmates. However, he was the class president and captain of both the baseball and track and field teams.
His childhood was marked by tragedy when one of his four brothers died. His father drank heavily, and Bill started shining shoes to make ends meet while in middle school.
Bill Cosby speaks to reporters outside of his home on June 30, 2021, in Cheltenham | Photo: Getty Images
Bill, unmotivated with school work, dropped out of high school and joined the US Navy in 1956. After regretting his decision, Bill earned his high school equivalency diploma while in the service.
After leaving the Navy, he got a scholarship to study physical education at Temple University. To earn a living as a student, he became a bartender. His sense of humor hits the mark with clients who became his first audience.
Bill gave up his studies to pursue a career in comedy. He booked stand-up jobs at different clubs in different cities before gaining national exposure in 1963 when he appeared on NBC’s “The Tonight Show.”
Bill Cosby arrives for sentencing for his sexual assault trial at the Montgomery County Courthouse on September 25, 2018 in Norristown | Photo: Getty Images
With his exposure, he signed a recording contract with Warner Bros. Records and released his debut LP “Bill Cosby Is a Very Funny Fellow…Right!” in 1964.
In 1965, Bill was offered a role in “I Spy” and made history by becoming the first black actor in a lead role in a series. He landed the Emmy Award for best actor three consecutive years making him the first African American to win an Emmy for acting.
At the end of the 1960s, he got down to directing a sitcom, “The Bill Cosby Show,” which aired for only two seasons. He went back to school, and in 1972, he received his Master of Arts from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Bill Cosby arrives for sentencing for his sexual assault trial at the Montgomery County Courthouse on September 24, 2018 in Norristown | Photo: Getty Images
Bill and other African-American actors went into filmmaking with successful films like “Uptown Saturday Night” in 1974, “Let’s Do It Again” in 1975. and “Mother, Jugs & Speed” in 1976.
In 1984 the actor returned to television with a successful show called “The Cosby Show.” The show tells the story of a wealthy African-American family from Brooklyn.
His role as Heathcliff Huxtable remains the greatest success of his career. The show went off the air in 1992 after eight seasons and made a comeback in 1996.
Bill Cosby walks through the Montgomery County Courthouse for day fourteen of his sexual assault retrial on April 26, 2018 in Norristown | Photo: Getty Images
Camille Olivia Hanks, known as Camille Cosby, is an American producer, author, and philanthropist born March 20, 1944. She is the wife of famous comedian Bill Cosby.
Born in an upper-class family, she was presented to D.C. society as a debutante in 1961. She grew up organized even though her siblings said she was bossy.
The supporter and advocate of HBCUs, Camille dropped out of college at 19. Despite her fortune and success, Camille did not feel educationally fulfilled.
Camille Cosby at the College Bound 20th Anniversary Celebration at the Hyatt Regency on Capital Hill on October 18, 2011 in Washington | Photo: Getty Images
However, she resumed her studies, and in 1990, she obtained a master’s degree from the University of Massachusetts, followed by a doctorate in 1992.
Camille, who acts as Bill’s manager, is a shrewd businesswoman who avoids public life. She helped develop “The Cosby Show” and has written forewords for several books. She was also the co-producer for the Broadway play “Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years.”
Camille Cosby at the Dick Gregory’s Celebration Of Life at City of Praise Family Ministries on September 16, 2017 in Landover | Photo: Getty Images
BILL AND CAMILLE’S RELATIONSHIP
While studying psychology at the University of Maryland, Camille met Bill at a comedy gig at a small Georgetown club. She abandoned her studies at 19, got married to Bill on January 25, 1964.
Even though Bill is seven years older than her, she became his manager. The couple moved to New York, and as Bill’s career soared, they moved to Hollywood, where people compared her to Lena Horne.
A year after their marriage, they welcomed their first child Erika who Erinn followed in 1966, Ennis in 1969, Ensa in 1973, and Evin in 1976. Their children all have names beginning with the letter “E” because it stands for “excellence.”
Bill Cosby and Camille Cosby speak onstage at the Apollo Theater 75th Anniversary Gala on June 8, 2009 in New York | Photo: Getty Images
Their relationship has not been with its ups and downs. Camille stood by him as sexual assault cases hit the Cosby family, accusing Bill of drugging and raping many women. She said,
“The man I met and fell in love with, and whom I continue to love, is the man you all knew through his work.”
In the heart of the scandal, Camille defended Bill. Even though she admitted that he had cheated on her in the past, she still stood by him.
Bill Cosby and Camille Cosby arrive at Bill Cosby Trial at Montgomery County Courthouse on June 12, 2017 in Norristown | Photo: Getty Images
ENNIS COSBY’S LIFE AND DEATH
Ennis, a gifted athlete, was the only son of Bill and Camille. He excelled at sports and participated in track and field events like his father.
However, Ennis struggled with his schoolwork until he was diagnosed with dyslexia when he entered Morehouse College in Atlanta.
Ennis, a good poet, was also tutoring children struggling in school. He was required to work with a little boy for a year to get his degree. However, he spent three years with the child.
Camile Cosby leaving a restaurant in January 25, 2002 in New York | Photo: Getty Images
Unfortunately, his life was cut short on January 16, 1997. The night before he was murdered, Camile had spoken to Ennis, asking him to be careful on the freeway in Los Angeles. She said,
“Ennis, just be careful.”
These were her last words to him because she was concerned about the rising crime rates on the freeway. After his death, she felt bad that she couldn’t stop him.
Bill Cosby and Camile Cosby at a charity benefit in Santa Monica, Los Angeles, November 1966 | Photo: Getty Images
Ennis had pulled over to fix a flat tire along California’s Interstate 405 in Los Angeles on the day he died. A Ukrainian-born teenager, Mikhail Markhasev, reportedly high on drugs, tried to rob Ennis.
Ennis was shot and killed when he took too long to hand over the money. After the shooting, Camille was disturbed that the media never reported that Markhasev had a history of racial prejudice.
In August 1998, Markhasev, 19, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. He reportedly showed no remorse for his crime during his trial, even after a jailhouse letter proved that he allegedly confessed to the crime.
Photo of Bill Cosby on May 22, 1964 | Photo: Getty Images
In 2001, Markhasev confessed his guilt, withdrew his appeals because he said it was based on falsehood and deceit, and apologized to the Cosby family.
After their loss, the Cosby family had to allow themselves to live through the pain so they could heal. They all had to be comfortable with dealing with the memory of Ennis.