Bill Cosby was considered a television pioneer for his work on The Cosby Show, but now the growing rape scandal surrounding the comedian is threatening to destroy the legacy of the groundbreaking show and impact the careers of the other actors who shared the screen with Cosby.
Cosby has been accused of rape by more than a dozen women, incidents that allegedly stretch back for decades. Though many of the accusers have been known for years, the allegations gained new attention after comedian Hannibal Buress publicly called out Cosby for the allegations.
The allegations have meant an abrupt end for The Cosby Show re-runs. Once one of the most popular syndicated shows, it came to an abrupt end, with TV Land canceling the show’s syndication.
The end of The Cosby Show means an end to royalty payments to the other actors involved, though so far many of them have remained silent. Lisa Bonet has refused to comment, and actress Raven Symone slammed accusations that Cosby could have molested her.
“I was NOT [taken] advantage of by Mr. Cosby when I was on the Cosby Show! I was practically a baby on that show and this is truly a disgusting rumor that I want no part of!” the 28-year-old wrote Wednesday on Instagram. “Everyone on that show treated me with nothing but kindness. Now keep me out of this!”
Malcolm Jamal Warner, who played Cosby’s son Theo Huxtable, has also remained silent on the allegations, as have other co-stars.
It is unclear if The Cosby Show will ever return to television, but Cosby has already seen his empire crumble around him. Shortly after the rape scandal began picking up steam, both Netflix and NBC canceled projects they had planned with Cosby. Others soon joined in. Last week, the United States Navy announced that Cosby would no longer hold the honorary chief petty officer title he received in 2011.
“The Navy is taking this action because allegations against Mr. Cosby are very serious and are in conflict with the Navy’s core values of honor, courage and commitment,” Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and Master Chief Petty Officer Michael Stevens said in a statement.
Cosby enlisted in the Navy in 1956, serving for four years before being honorably discharged in 1960. Cosby left the Navy as a 3rd Class Petty Officer.
Others in Hollywood have spoken out against Bill Cosby. Actor and comedian Patton Oswalt, during his recent appearance on the You Made It Weird podcast, hosted by comic Pete Holmes, said Cosby’s allegations were no secret in the comedy world.
“The Bill Cosby thing is so f**king awful, and what’s worse for comedians is a lot of us have known for a long f**king time. It was a very badly kept secret in the comedian world, and a lot of us would talk about it,” he said.
Fans are turning on Bill Cosby as well. In Hollywood, someone vandalized his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, writing “rapist” on it.
Some believe that as the scandal surrounding Bill Cosby dies down, television executives will cool off and The Cosby Show could find a home again. But they say that could still be years away.