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Home | Episode #11
Speaking Out: My Bill Cosby Story
February 1, 2019 | Student Producers:

Daryan Gomez and Lily Yates
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Speaking Out: My Bill Cosby Story
Professor Gina Lew encounters Bill Cosby and comes away with a story. (6 minutes)
Gina Lew

Some of you will have different memories of Bill Cosby, so this is kind of a generational thing. Some of you will remember him from the I-Spy series. Some of you may remember him as Dr. Huxtable. So, this is my Bill Cosby story. So, um, this was when I was in my Master's program going to school at USC. And one of the jobs that I held while I was working my way through school was to be an NBC page, and one of the perks of being an NBC page was, besides taking tours, people on tours and seeing celebrities here and there in your off hours, you were able to go around and circulate and get to meet people. And that's how you networked, and that's how you got your foot in the door if you were interested in any avenue of television, and my emphasis was television news. So, one day I'm walking through the halls after giving a tour, and I see Bill Cosby, and he's getting his shoes shined. 

At that time, he had come off of the I-Spy series. He was working the comedy circuit. He was doing a lot of educational cartoons, the Fat Albert cartoons, and he was Mr. Jell-O, so very personable. I went right up to him, not very shy, and I pretty much was not interested in most celebrities. I thought that, on sight they were just very self-centered, so I wasn't really taken with celebrity, but I went right up to him and I said, "Hi, how are you?" And he looks at me and you could see his mind was, "All right, I should know who this is." And I said, "Oh no, no, no, you don't know who I am. I'm just a page here, but I always felt you're such a good guy that I could go right up to you and say hi." So he said, "Well, tell me a little bit about yourself." 

And I told him that I was working my way through school and I was working on my Master's and he said, "Well, you know, I come here quite a bit. I'd love to try to help you as you're going through your graduate program." So I'm thinking, "Wow, he really is that guy. He really tries to help all of these people who are trying to better themselves and get a great education." So he asked me, "Hey, why don't we, why don't you give me your phone number and I'll call you?" Because what he was doing there, he was a guest host on the Tonight Show because Johnny Carson, in his contract, always had a few nights off, so he was always coming. He said, "Why don't you give me your phone number and the next time I'm in town, I'll give you a call?" And I'm thinking, "Yeah, sure." 

But I said, "Sure, just, you know, this is my phone number, no problem, blah, blah blah." So it was during November sweeps, and I remember because I was doing Thanksgiving dinner at my parents' house, and my girlfriend, who was my roommate, calls me up and says, "Hey Gina, I just got a call from someone who said he was Bill Cosby and I hung up on him." And I went, "Oh my God, it was true! Blah, blah, blah..." So anyway, he comes the next visit into town. He asked me to come to his dressing room and on the walls, you see Camille's husband. And I'm thinking, "Wow, this guy is such a great guy. He really is that friendly." And he was asking me about my thesis and he was saying, "Did you ever think of pursuing any kind of humorous angle when going through your Master's program? And I'm thinking, "That doesn't add up at all." 

These kind of onsite tutorials continued for a few weeks or so, and then he asked me to go out after his show. He asked me to go to dinner with him so we could continue our conversation, which I thought, "Wow, what a nice guy. He's really trying to help me, blah, blah blah." And then that continued for a few months and then he asked me one night, he said, "Do you have nice clothes?" And I said, "Well, uh, I don't know!" And he said, "Well, the reason why I ask is I'm going to be performing in Reno, and if you'd like to you can come up and watch the show." And I said, "That is so generous of you. I really appreciate it, but you know what, I'm a working student. I don't even think I can get the gas money, and I, for sure, there's no way I could stay at the casino." And he said, "Oh, don't even worry about it. I'll have a room set up for you, and I'll set you up, you don't even have to worry about it. You can bring a few of your friends or whatever."

And I'm thinking, "What a generous man. See how he reaches out and how he's trying to help these people?" And I said, "So you would go ahead and just set up a hotel room?" And he said, "Yeah, but I'll have the key to the room." And then that's when he looked at me with his kind of like, "hey, hey, hey," kinda humorous expression, and I'm looking at him and I'm thinking, "Oh. Oh. Oh! Oh, oh, oh no, no! No, thank you," and that is my Bill Cosby story. And at that time, he was with several women, and he actually fathered a child with a woman at that time. And if you listen to all the other women who spoke out, a lot of it did happen by acting as a mentor for a lot of these young women. So, that is my Bill Cosby story, and I want to thank you for listening.