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A Quick History of Bill Cosby's Strong-Arming, Megalomaniacal Behavior

By Dustin Rowles | Think Pieces | November 20, 2014 |

By Dustin Rowles | Think Pieces | November 20, 2014 |

Before Hannibal Buress pierced it a few weeks ago, Bill Cosby has been able to hide his sometimes monstrous behavior behind the veil of The Cosby Show, of Fat Albert, and of his long association with family-values comedy. But once that veil was pierced, we could begin to see his past actions from a new perspective, not as someone looking out for the best interest of others, but as a egotistical narcissist who takes what he wants whether they want it or not, or who bends the will of others through sheer force (physical, psychological, or emotional). He’s a guy who exercises his power over others. He thinks he has the right to dictate what other people think and feel, and he passes judgement on other people without any fear of repercussion.

I’m not even talking about Cosby’s alleged sexual assaults. I’m talking about some of his other actions that might have seemed innocuous at the time, but in light of what we really know about Cosby, are in line with his megalomaniac personality. Obviously, those tactics he used on an Associated Press reporter didn’t represent the first time he’s attempted to use intimidation to get what he wanted.

Here’s a quick history of forgotten or little known instances in which Cosby attempted to impose his will onto others. Isolated, they may not seem like much. But on the whole, they show you what kind of a man Bill Cosby really is.

1. When Leonard Part 6, which Cosby wrote, directed and starred in, came out, it was so bad that Bill Cosby actually bought the television rights himself to ensure that it never aired on TV. In fact, when it was released, Cosby actually urged people to boycott it, so as to not sully his reputation.

2. Bill Cosby took to NBC’s airwaves in 1992 and actually thought he had enough good will and personal capital to end the Rodney King Riots by encouraging everyone to stop rioting and, instead, watch the Cosby Show finale.

3. While addressing graduates of Notre Dame in 1990, Cosby singled out one 22-year-old football player, chastised him for his 2.5 GPA (instead of a 3.0) and dragged him on stage and shamed him until the kid began crying.

4. When Lisa Bonet took on a controversial role in Angel Heart while on The Cosby Show, she approached Bill Cosby about taking the role, and he said, according to Bonet: “Lisa, this is called “The Cosby Show,’ and I know how this business works. I know that you kids can be erased just like that. I’ve been in this business long enough to know that. And there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be working. And get out of my dressing room.”

5. After the huge success of The Cosby Show and Different World, Bill Cosby set into motion a Malcolm Jamal-Warner spin-off, Here and Now. It failed miserably. Cosby blamed NBC, saying they gave the show a bad timeslot and sent him C-list talent in order to ensure that he didn’t get too much power at the network. So what did he do? He attempted on several occasions to buy the network away from them.

6. In 1976, Cosby sucker punched Tommy Smothers at the Playboy Mansion for a perceived slight. From WMFU:

In October of 1976, Cosby and Smothers were attending the same party at The Playboy Mansion. Hoping to ease some of the tension, Tom congratulated Bill on his latest television series. What Smothers did not realize was that the show in question had been cancelled the day before. “I liked your show,” said Tom, “it was a really good effort.” Cosby didn’t respond. “He just looked at me [as if to say] ‘Fuck you,’ and I said, ’ Well, Fuck you.’ … and walked away. I’d been getting this kind of thing from him for a long time. It started when he was hosting The Tonight Show. He had this kind of dismissive way of introducing people … and I nailed him - you know, comedic oneupmanship—-and I remember he said, ‘Maybe sometime I’ll knock you upside the head one of these days,’ and I said, ‘Yeah, go ahead and try.’ A couple months later … boom … there it was. I should never have turned my back on him. He didn’t have the balls to do it when I was looking. He slipped behind Hefner and sucker-punched me. He hit me right in the head with his fist - knocked me down … and I was down there a minute or two and he was standing over me screaming at me, ‘C’mon, I’ll kick your ass,’ stuff like that. I’ve never seen him since then. I always thought, maybe if he turns around sometime I might give him a shot.”

7. Back during the final season of The Cosby Show, Bill Cosby once told an AP reporter during an interview that if the interview didn’t go well, he’d give the reporter a piece of fruit. After the story was published, the reporter received a “sheet of paper with three typed words: ‘Here’s your apple.’ The signature in black ink read “Bill Cosby.” And wrapped in a paper towel was indeed an apple, dried and withered.”

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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