The Inquisitr published a story on Saturday, September 1, about former Cosby Show actor Geoffrey Owens’ job as a cashier at a New Jersey Trader Joe’s. The 57-year-old, who played Sondra Huxtable’s docile husband Elvin Tibideaux, was photographed wearing a dirty company T-shirt while on duty at the grocery store by shopper Karma Lawrence on Saturday, August 25.
“It was a shock to see him working there, and looking the way he did,” she told the Daily Mail about Owens. “It made me feel really bad. I was like, ‘Wow, all those years of doing the show and you ended up as a cashier.'”
As the news spread rapidly across the internet, many showbiz folks came to his defense, saying others should not criticize or make fun of him for simply trying to make a living.
Actress, writer, director, and producer Justine Bateman, most known for starring on ’80s sitcom Family Ties, addressed her dismay in a series of tweets. “So, 26 years after one TV job, this guy looks differently (shock) and is earning an honest living at a Trader Joe’s,” she wrote on Twitter. “The people taking his picture and passing judgment are trash.”
“I’ll also add that Geoffrey Owens is one of the VERY few people on the planet who has acted on a hit TV show. That is something I’m certain that Karma Lawrence has never, and will never do. #Respect.”
'Cosby Show' Actor Geoffrey Owens Is Now Bagging Groceries At Trader Joe's. Once a star of a massive hit television sitcom, the 57-year-old can now be seen behind the cash register. #Celeb #Celebrity https://t.co/e9tX3dSco4
— INQUISITR Entertainment (@IQShowbiz) September 1, 2018
“He’s working and there is pride in every job! Good for him,” tweeted Laura Ingraham, host of the Fox New Channel program The Ingraham Angle.
I had been a working actor for years. Jobs stopped, as they do. I worked in retail. At a flower shop. I passed out flyers. It’s about the work. Work gives you pride and purpose. Your visibility as an actor never goes away. But the money sure does. #geoffreyowens pic.twitter.com/BBzZaBrGBx
— Pamela Adlon (@pamelaadlon) September 2, 2018
“Taking a non-industry job says nothing about talent or ‘worth,'” said actress Nicole J. Butler on Twitter, who also admitted that she had to drive for Lyft for a few months when she needed money.
“There is NO SHAME in honest work. Life gets hard & sh*t gets real. That said, if #GeoffreyOwens is still interested in working in this crazy, non-linear industry, I hope this resurfacing of his name leads someone to cast him in something HUGE. Make him trend.”
I worked in a Wetherspoons kitchen after being in Harry Potter. I needed a job, no shame in that. And you know what? I really enjoyed it! You do what you need to do and that's nothing to be ashamed of. https://t.co/1RI8sltHMe
— Chris Rankin (@chrisrankin) September 1, 2018
“Geoffrey Owens is a great actor who I saw play Puck in William Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Joseph Papp theater,” tweeted documentary filmmaker Jeremy Newberger. “He killed it. If you see him working anywhere get his autograph and wish him well.”
This is so gross. At its simplest, this is a man working a job. The idea that it’s somehow sad or embarrassing says more about the onlooker than Geoffrey Owens. Acting as a business is brutal, and the vast majority of actors have other jobs. Get your damn groceries and shut up. https://t.co/aaeC5A8r03
— Emerson Collins (@ActuallyEmerson) September 1, 2018
“For those of you shaming Geoffrey Owens, go look at his IMDB page,” wrote actor and comedian Brian Scolaro on Twitter. “He works as an actor. But actors get paid crap these days unless they are a lead on a network show. Despite the many channels and platforms these days, the pay has gone down an incredible amount for all of us.”
When I look at this picture of Geoffrey Owens, the only things that come to my mind are courage, humility and dedication. Very few artists, especially actors, can fully support themselves in their craft. Taking honest, hard work to offset those dry periods is honorable. pic.twitter.com/tql80NegJt
— Aharon Rabinowitz (@ABAOProductions) September 2, 2018
“The man is trying to put food on the table and you’re trying to humiliate him?” journalist Yashar Ali, who has written for New York and the Huffington Post, asked on Twitter. He went on to explain to the haters that, while Owens probably “made a lot more than the average American” while he was acting on the Cosby Show from 1985 to 1992, the show did end 26 years ago.
Although he may not be a regular character on a television program, Owens has continuously worked as an actor over the years. Most recently, he’s had guest-starring roles on hit series like Elementary, The Blacklist, Lucifer, Blue Bloods, Divorce, and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. He has also acted and directed various productions both on and off Broadway, including several Shakespeare plays like Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, and As You Like It.
Additionally, Owens teaches the craft of acting to others. He’s worked at Pace, Yale, and Florida State universities as well as at private acting studios. Later this month, he will lead the “Taking the Fear Out of Shakespeare” class at South Orange, New Jersey’s interACT Theatre Productions.