20 Years Later, Where Are They Now? The Cast of “The Cosby Show”

May 4, 2012  |  

It has been 20 years since “The Cosby Show” went off the air, and since then, many black sitcoms have tried to fill the void that the iconic show left behind. But how can you? It was light years ahead of its time when it debuted in ’84, and from it, we learned a lot of things. For instance, why you shouldn’t drink, the importance of Gordon Gartrelle shirts, the song “The Night Time (Is the Right Time),” and what the Cosby sweater was, among other more serious and important things. It has been a long while since we’ve seen everyone, so why not catch up with everyone’s favorite black sitcom family?

P.S., We haven’t done a where are they now on “The Cosby Show” before by the way. Just our favorite outfits from the cast, and a piece on the hair of the female cast members. Just in case you were thinking that…Thanks!

Bill Cosby

As Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable, Bill Cosby was the quintessential black father…or at least the black father we all thought we wanted to have. He was funny, but stern, and he was cool as hell! Peep out those Coogi-esque sweaters he was rocking, his dancing skills, and that time he ran track with his old team in those short shorts. Fastest. Dad. Ever. But anywho, Cosby did more work before the show on-screen, but afterwards, he did more producing and hosting. TV wise he did “The Cosby Mysteries,” “Cosby,” hosted “Kids Say the Darndest Things,” and currently does the show “Obkb,” where interviews kids across the country. Movie wise, he was in movies like The Meteor Man and Jack. Aside from all that, we know Cosby likes to speak up on political issues, problems in the black community, and more. Plus, he’s racked up a number of honorary degrees just for being him.

Phylicia Rashad

Fashion forward Clair Huxtable stayed busy after the show ended, and while she did a little TV work (“Cosby” and the TV movie, “A Raisin in the Sun” for example), she more or less got her kicks doing plays and movies. Her film work post “The Cosby Show” includes Once Upon a Time…When We Were Black, Frankie & Alice, Just Wright, Good Deeds, For Colored Girls, and she’s currently working on the Steel Magnolias remake. Of course, on Broadway, she was in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” and was the first black woman to win a Tony for leading actress in a play for her role in “A Raisin in the Sun.”

Malcolm Jamal Warner

The show wouldn’t have been as fun without Theo Huxtable, the girl obsessed only son of Heathcliff and Clair. Early on he was seen as the troublemaking slacker, but as time went on, he became a hard-working teacher in the end. After the show, Warner stuck mostly to TV, and doing an occasional movie: King of the Underground, and “The Tuskegee Airmen (the TV movie).” But TV wise, he did “Here and Now,” was a voice on “The Magic School Bus,” had the fabulous show “Malcolm & Eddie,” (those locs made him look so fine!) “Sherri,” “Reed Between the Lines,” and he also has a recurring role on the NBC show, “Community.” He currently dates Regina King (they’re so ca-ute), and used to date Michelle Thomas (Myra from “Family Matters” and Justine on the show) before she passed away in ’98. He also had a long relationship with Karen Malina White, who played Charmaine on “The Cosby Show.”

Keshia Knight Pulliam

Rudy Huxtable was the very cute youngest child of the Huxtable family. She was smart beyond her years, and had the most interesting friends (we’ll touch on that in a few). After the show ended, a show in which we basically watched her grow up, she went off, went to school at Spelman (got her Bachelor’s in Sociology), became a member of Delta Sigma Theta, and basically lived a normal life. But when she was ready, she popped back up on the scene doing game shows (celebrity episode of “Fear Factor” and “The Weakest Link”) and appeared in Chingy’s video for “One Call Away.” She also did a lot of movie work, including “What About Your Friends: Weekend Getaway,” “Motives,” “Beauty Shop,” “The Gospel,” and “Madea Goes to Jail.” And of course, she appeared recently on the TV show, “House of Payne.”

Tempestt Bledsoe

Vanessa was the often nosey daughter who went head to head with Rudy and Theo, and as she got older, she went from bickering with them, to trying to marry her boo Dabnis (they didn’t end up walking down the aisle). After the show, Bledsoe stuck to television, doing shows like “Johnny B Good,” “Husband for Hire (TV movie),” and just completed Para Norman and is filming the TV movie, “DILFs.” Can’t imagine what that could stand for…

And don’t forget, Bledsoe was also the host of her own talk show, appeared on “Celebrity Fit Club,” and temporarily hosted “Clean House” on Style Network. She’s still dating the actor Darryl M. Bell (from “A Different World”), and the two appeared on “Househusbands of Hollywood.”

Lisa Bonet

Just in Case You Missed It: Bonet’s Denise Huxtable is widely known for her role as fashionista and a Cosby Show kid. Afterwards, she tried to do the spin-off thing with A Different World, however, we all know that when she was the central figure on the show…it was a bit of a bore. She was done with the show after season one because of her pregnancy with daughter Zoe (though she came back later as a guest and also went back to “The Cosby Show”), and since then, her career has been on chill mode. She was in the movie High Fidelity with John Cusack, Biker Boyz, and even on the show, Life on Mars. Even if her acting career isn’t all that, she’s still lucky because she gets to snuggle up with actor Jason Momoa…*drool*

Raven-Symone

Olivia Kendall was like a grown woman trapped in a little girls body. She was mad inquisitive and funny, and when she popped up on the show as Denise’s adorable step-daughter, she was an awesome addition to an already awesome cast. After the show, she did a lot of movies: The Little Rascals, Doctor Dolittle (1 & 2), The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement, College Road Trip, and the TV movies, “Revenge of the Bridesmaids” and “The Cheetah Girls.” TV wise, she did “Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper,” “That’s So Raven,” was a voice on “Kim Possible,” and recently tried to do the ABC Family show, “State of Georgia.” It was canceled though. Aside from being on-screen, she does music, releasing albums like Here’s to New Dreams (’93), Undeniable (’99), and her self-titled album (2008).

She’s now on Broadway doing “Sister Act.”

Joseph C. Phillips

Phillips played Lt. Martin Kendall, father to Olivia, husband to Denise. The two met and wed in Africa and came back to shock the family by letting them know about their surprise marriage. Aside from recurring roles on “The District,” “General Hospital,” “The Young and the Restless” and “Without a Trace,” he’s become a conservative Christian commentator, syndicated columnist, and writer.

Sabrina Le Beauf

No offense to Ms. Le Beauf, but often, when I think of the kids, I think of Denise as the oldest child. Maybe because Sondra was grown and out of the house, she kind of reminded me of a family friend. But anywho, when the show ended, Le Beauf slowly started moving out of the limelight. She did a show called “Fatherhood,” and a TV movie called The Stalker Within, and had guest appearances on “Cosby ” and “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” Nowadays she has her own interior design business.

Geoffrey Owens

Elvin was the boo and of course, husband of Sondra. While he started off as a somewhat annoying and chauvinistic character, he changed a lot during the show. And he was actually pretty funny. After the show ended, he did the movies The Paper, Stonebrook, The Cross, and Dreams, and guest starred on “Law & Order,” “That’s So Raven,” “Boston Legal,” “The Secret Life of the American Teenager,” and “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” He’s now teaching acting classes in NYC.

Gary LeRoi Gray

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anything on the girl who played Winnie, but the little boy who played Nelson seems to have kept pretty busy. He’s done a lot of Disney work, including voice work on “The Fairly Odd Parents,” “Rocket Power,” “Even Stevens,” and “The Wierd Al Show.” He’s also starred in an independent movie called Noah’s Arc: Jumping the Broom.

EXTENDED FAMILY

Clarice Taylor and Earle Hyman

The parents of Heathcliff, known as the knowledgeable Anna and Russell, in real life were veteran actors on screen and stage. After the show ended, Taylor did the movies Sommersby, Smoke, and Due South, but passed away at the age of 93 due to heart failure.

Hyman on the other hand is still doing his thing, and has appeared on “All My Children,” “Cosby,” and “Twice in a Lifetime,” in addition to doing commentary for documentaries. Looking good!

Erika Alexander

Cousin Pam on the show, Alexander is another one we’ve covered before (Where Are They Now: Living Single). In case you missed it: Alexander went on to play the role of Maxine Shaw–one of the greatest characters to ever pop up on TV in my opinion–on “Living Single.” She had great style, great wit, she was fierce and an intellectual, a maneater, and she had the eating habits of a dude. She was also the only girlfriend or friend in general on the show to not live in the same brownstone as the rest of the cast (she lived across the street). Maxine was a long ways away from Cousin Pam. But since the show ended, we’ve only seen her around here and there. She did a random comedy with Tracy Morgan called 30 Years to Life, was in the movie Deja Vu, and had recent guest appearances on Criminal Minds, Suburgatory, and has a role in a film called The Magic City, which came out last year. We hope to see her more often…

THE FRIENDS/BOOS

Deon Richmond

Kenny, aka, “Bud,” was the buddy (and possible boo) of Rudy on the show. He often got a lot of funny but misguided advice from his older brother that he would try to share with Rudy, making many of their exchanges on the show very hilarious. After “The Cosby Show,” Richmond showed up with recurring roles on the shows “Getting By,” “Sister, Sister,” and the show, “Teachers.” He’s also done a lot of popular movies for young people: Scream 3, Trippin’, Not Another Teen Movie, and Van Wilder. He’s now doing a movie called FDR: American Badass!

Michelle Thomas

She played Theo’s longtime girlfriend, Justine. We’ve covered Thomas before (Where Are They Now: Family Matters), so in case you missed it: Thomas went on to play the very silly but sweet Myra Monkhouse on “Family Matters.” She was about one thing, and one thing only–loving her some Steve Urkel. Though she seemed like the perfect fit for him with her bubbly self, Urkel ended up leaving Monkhouse behind for his love, Laura Winslow. After the show ended, Thomas did “The Young and the Restless,” but sadly, the actress passed away in ’98 at the age of 30 after battling a rare form of stomach cancer.

Karen Malina White

White was known as chatterbox Charmaine both on “The Cosby Show,” and “A Different World.” After having the opportunity to show out on both shows, she had a role on “Malcolm & Eddie” as Nicolette, and voiced Dijonay Jones on “The Proud Family.” She’s also been in a few movies (not just Lean on Me), showing up in Once Upon a Time…When We Were Colored, and producing a short film called Kissed By the Devil.

Allen Payne

LANCE! *in Charmaine voice* He was the boyfriend of Charmaine, and we got to catch our first looks at the brother on this show. After the fact, the cutie went on to do a LOT of movie work, classic black movies at that: CB4, Jason’s Lyric, Vampire in Brooklyn, The Walking Dead, Blue Hill Avenue, and in the TV movie, “The Tuskegee Airmen.” Along with Keshia Knight Pulliam, he also starred in “House of Payne.”

Carl Anthony Payne II

He was Theo’s best friend, Cockroach, for the early seasons, but allegedly, after refusing to get a haircut, he was fired by Bill Cosby (why not get the freaking haircut!?) and written out of the show. But Payne bounced back okay. We’ve covered him before too (Where Are They Now: Martin), so once again, in case you missed it: Cockroach! Well, he was Cockroach in his “Cosby Show” days, but on “Martin,” he was the uber-stupid but lovable Cole Brown. You know, the guy who loved all the hats, cleaned planes, loved him some Big Shirley and lived with his mother? That hilarious guy. When the show ended, Payne stuck to a lot of TV work, including a few episodes of “The George Lopez Show,” a guest appearance on “Girlfriends,” and most recently, appearing on a few episodes of BET’s “The Game.”

William Thomas Jr.

As Dabnis Brickey, Thomas was the object of Vanessa’s affections. Well, at least for a while, because in the end, the characters broke off the engagement they had going on. But anywho, after “The Cosby Show,” Thomas did a lot of guest spots on shows like “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” “The West Wing,” “Sister, Sister, and he had a recurring role on “The Bold and the Beautiful” most recently in 2005.

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  • thetruthdealer

    bill cosby the rapist

  • benedicte

    How many times are you gonna type in the word black it kinda mean because I other shows like victorious,I Carly you don’t keep typing the word ”White”

  • They left out Adam Sandler. ..wth is HE doing now? Lol.

  • Jnxcat

    lisa bonet was also in enemy of rthe state with will smith! also, i find it HIGHLY ODD that NOT ONE of the Cosby kids has ever been arrested, on drugs or in the media for something crazy! that is incredible for child stars!

    • MIssK

      NOT ONE on drugs???…. ummmm check again boo

    • CarlaKah

      except for lisa bonet???

    • guess mr cosby did a good jod on sceen as well

  • Rwilliams482

    the girl that played winnie died in a car accident a few years ago 

  • Getoq14u

    Hey! you forgot Rudy’s friend, the chubby little white boy who never spoke and always ran away scared…what happened to him??!!

    • James

      ?Who

    • @msredbonebrite

      Peter!!! LOL!!

    • stiil running home to his mom lol lol

  • Whoomp There It Is

    LOL!!! this was sooooooo poorly written! wtf??

  • Pingback: 20 Years Later, Where Are They Now? The Cast of “The Cosby Show” | Old School 94.5()

  • IllyPhilly

    Damn, ya covered pretty much everyone. Well, besides the trillions of guest stars who blew up. They look the same. 

  • :)

    Great article… but how y’all gonna mention Allen Payne & not meniton New Jack City?????!!!! I love that movie.

  • MissDiva05

    This is definitely a timeless show… I love that it is an American CLASSIC – it crossed so many boundaries and portrayed us in such a real and positive light.

  • Ggirl

    How many times are you going to run this article?

  • L-Boogie

    Okay, I will make two comments.  Coogi-esque sweaters.  LOL!  Dr. Huxtable buying knock-offs.  LOL!

    • L-Boogie

      I used to want to be Ms. Huxtable.  Stylish, smart, and beautiful.  The total package. 

    • Nunya

      I HARDLY think so, L-Boogie. Cos was wearing actual Coo GI before Biggie made it popular.

      • Nunya

        *Coogi. Stupid autocorrect.