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What Did Bill Cosby Say in His 1969 “Man of the Year” Acceptance Speech?

The irony comes in many forms. In this case, it comes in the form of a well-known, wholesome comedian who has kept dark secrets, secrets that were unbecoming.

In 1969, Bill Cosby received the “Man of the Year” award. And in his acceptance speech, Bill suggested changing the name of the yearly accolade to “the nice guy as far as we know” award.

Who is Bill Cosby?

William Henry Cosby, Jr. was born on July 12, 1937, to William Sr. and Anna Cosby. As we would know him, Bill was born and raised in Philadelphia and was the eldest of four Cosby brothers. 

Earlier in his life, Cosby realized he was a great storyteller and that humor could help him get what he wanted. One of his teachers noted that Cosby was so good at making things up and lying, he should become a lawyer or an actor. (Source: Biography)

Cosby was noted to be intelligent but was not interested in Academics. Instead, he was more interested in sports, joining the school, and later on, the Navy’s track teams. Cosby dropped out of high school and joined the Navy as a medical aide in 1956.

Later on, it was reported that Cosby regretted dropping out of high school but earned its equivalent while in service with the Navy. Soon after, Cosby gained a scholarship with Temple University, where he also worked as a bartender in a coffee shop.

This is where his story of success started, as Cosby began filling in for the house comedian and did warm-up acts. Soon after, Cosby decided to drop out of college and pursue his career in stand-up comedy. In 1963, Cosby appeared on Johnny Carson’s Tonight show, which introduced him to a national audience. (Source: Biography)

On-Screen Success

Known for his success with The Cosby Show’s television series, which ran from 1984 to 1992, Cosby’s TV stint started in 1965 with the series I Spy. This show made him the first African-American actor to perform in the dramatic lead role. He’s acting as a black secret agent, won him three Emmy Awards, and helped African-American actors advance their careers on television. (Source: Britannica)

Cosby then started on his projects, including Bill Cosby Specials from 1968 to 1975, The Bill Cosby Show from 1969 to 1971, and the successful cartoon Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids from 1972 up to 1989.

The Cosby Show, which aired with NBC in 1984, was one of the most popular sitcoms in TV history. The sitcom won several major awards since it depicted a broad cross-cultural appeal and avoided stereotypical racism against African-Americans. His success led him induction to the Television Hall of Fame in 1984. (Source: Britannica)

The Irony of America’s Dad

In the years 2014 and 2015, several women came up and accused Cosby of sexual assault. The first woman who broke her silence was an operations manager for Temple University women’s basketball named Andrea Constand. Soon after, many women started accusing Cosby’s sexual assaults. A total of sixty women accused Cosby of sexual assault, spanning as early as the 70s. (Source: ABC)

All of the women who accused Cosby claimed they were drugged. A long and grueling courtroom drama ensued in the years to follow, a drama that Cosby never wanted any part of in the first place. The drama started in 2014 and ended on June 30, 2021, with Cosby being released from the State Correctional Institution Phoenix at 84. (Source: BBC)

These sexual assault allegations have genuinely changed the public’s view of Cosby. He was known as America’s Dad and has advanced both as an African-American comedian and scholar. Multiple universities rescinded their distinctive honors from Cosby. Several co-actors and actresses withdrew their support from him. And the worst of it all, his legacy as a wholesome comedian has been forever tarnished.  (Source: ABC)

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