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Inside Quotes: Bill Cosby On The 'I Love Lucy' In Reverse Beginnings Of 'The Cosby Show'

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act August 15, 2013 at 2:00PM

The chauffeur thing was my idea. Also Clair was going to be a plumber in the union …. Clair was also going to be Dominican, and have a mother and father speaking Spanish—which would be the reverse of [I Love] Lucy. I would be the person that didn’t understand when she spoke Spanish. And in the first show, Phylicia speaks Spanish and throughout the show, she understands Spanish. She doesn’t use it the way I wanted to use it. Mrs. Cosby, along with [executive producer] Marcy Carsey, said, ‘No, we think it’s more interesting to have this career professional.’ And I’m not going to argue with my wife. The day [Rashad] got the part, I was sitting in the back, and women were … reading with a couple of the kids. And many of them when … they were going to tell the kid off, started the head moving like a bobble doll … (laughs). And when Phylicia’s turn came and she was reading with Malcolm [Jamal-Warner] and he said something to her … there was a pause from her. And do you know what she did in that pause? She did something with her eyes. She didn’t bop her head; she didn’t throw her hand up on her hip; and she didn’t say anything out loud. She cut a look that said, oh, maybe four or five things (laughs)—and none of them were good. And I turned to Marcy, and I said ‘That’s Clair.’
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"The Cosby Show"
NBC "The Cosby Show"

The chauffeur thing was my idea. Also Clair was going to be a plumber in the union …. Clair was also going to be Dominican, and have a mother and father speaking Spanish—which would be the reverse of [I Love] Lucy. I would be the person that didn’t understand when she spoke Spanish. And in the first show, Phylicia speaks Spanish and throughout the show, she understands Spanish. She doesn’t use it the way I wanted to use it. Mrs. Cosby, along with [executive producer] Marcy Carsey, said, ‘No, we think it’s more interesting to have this career professional.’ And I’m not going to argue with my wife. The day [Rashad] got the part, I was sitting in the back, and women were … reading with a couple of the kids. And many of them when … they were going to tell the kid off, started the head moving like a bobble doll … (laughs). And when Phylicia’s turn came and she was reading with Malcolm [Jamal-Warner] and he said something to her … there was a pause from her. And do you know what she did in that pause? She did something with her eyes. She didn’t bop her head; she didn’t throw her hand up on her hip; and she didn’t say anything out loud. She cut a look that said, oh, maybe four or five things (laughs)—and none of them were good. And I turned to Marcy, and I said ‘That’s Clair.’

Ahhh... a trip down memory lane I thought I'd share for those who weren't aware of what The Cosby Show almost would've been, if it weren't for the interference by Camille Cosby and Macy Casey, and also how Phylicia Rashad landed her part.

It's all from a 2009 interview with The Root that I stumbled upon while researching for another piece; and thought I'd share it on a slow news day, assuming that while some are familiar with the stories, others may not be.

Would his original idea for the show have worked? Well, we'll never know now, will we.

You can read the full interview HERE.

This article is related to: TV News, Bill Cosby, Phylicia Rashad, Things That Make You Go Hmm...


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