Bill Cosby has done so much in his 75 years.
He broke down racial barriers in "I Spy," the 1960s spy drama in which he starred with Robert Culp. He made audiences laugh with the short-lived "Bill Cosby Show," and continued the laughter on Saturday mornings with Fat Albert, Mushmouth, Dumb Donald and the rest on "Fat Albert and The Cosby Kids." (Hey hey hey!")
He appeared on "Electric Company" and taught kids via the "Picture Pages" segments that appeared on shows like "Captain Kangaroo." Of course, his 1980s smash hit, "The Cosby Show," made every kid wish Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable was their dad. And it's impossible to think of Jell-O Pudding Pops without remembering Cosby as the product's spokesman.
Cosby hasn't gone gently into retirement, either. He's spoken up on many issues affecting the African-American community and America in general -- often delivering speeches that are controversial. And he has hard-earned experience with the social issues he speaks about -- his only son, Ennis, who inspired Theo on "The Cosby Show," was murdered 15 years ago for the simple crime of changing a flat tire in Los Angeles.
But if you're of a certain age, you may remember all of that, yet have a special spot in your heart for Cosby's stand-up comedy, whether you saw him perform in person (I did!) or listened to his albums over and over (guilty!) His tale of listening to the "Lights Out" radio program about "The Chicken Heart That Ate New York" is hilarious and yet weirdly terrifying. ("It's outside of your door!")
But probably the most popular Cosby routine is a simple 10-minute monologue on his futile attempt to provide his kids with a nutritious breakfast. You know the one: Bill half-heartedly tries to offer the kids eggs and bacon, but they want chocolate cake. Cosby doesn't just deliver the words of the routine, he whole-heartedly jumps into all the characters, mimicking his angry wife, his pleading 4-year-old and his own sleepy, lazy self. Here's just a snippet:
"And five children sat at breakfast! And the morning music was playing! And they were eating chocolate cake! And singing songs to me, 'Dad is great! Give us chocolate cake!' And we had a ball!
Until ... she came down like this. And when she saw what the children are eating -- I've always heard about people having a conniption but I'd hever seen one. You don't want to see 'em. My wife's face ... split. The skin and hair split and came off of her face so that there was nothing except the skull and orange light came out of her hair and it lit all around and fire shot from her eyesockets and began to burn my stomach.
And she said, 'Wherrrrre did they get chocolate cake, wherrrrrre?'
And I said 'They asked for it!'
And the children, who had been singing praises to me, LIED ON ME, and said 'Uh-uh, we asked for eggs and milk and Dad made us eat THIS!"
Watch the whole routine here. Happy birthday, Mr. Cosby. May you have all the chocolate cake you desire. After all, it has eggs, and wheat.
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