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Phylicia Rashad was caught off guard by Cosby Show’s success, controversy

Phylicia RashadPhylicia Rashad (Photo by Manny Carabel/Getty Images) Actress Phylicia Rashad suggested she had no idea TV’s long-running The Cosby Show would attract such extreme success, or that it would become the subject of such extreme controversy. Nine months after her longtime TV co-star, Bill Cosby, was sent to prison after a conviction on three counts of aggravated indecent assault, an article in Variety suggests that Rashad could never have foreseen all that would come out of the sitcom that was known for showing Black people in a successful, positive light.

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Rashad suggested there was no controversy when they were filming the show centered around a Black family living in New York.

“We were (just) having fun,” Rashad told the news organization on Friday at the ATX Television Festival in Austin. “We were working and we were having fun.”

The festival was a time for Rashad to be recognized for her work, not only as Clair Huxtable, the successful Brooklyn lawyer and wife to Cosby’s Cliff Huxtable, but for a lifetime of work on the big and small screen. She received the “Award in Television eXcellence” at the festival, earning a standing ovation during the program.

When Rashad began playing the role of Clair Huxtable in the 1980s, she came to the television show with a background primarily in theater and television commercials. Cosby directed her and the rest of the cast to just be themselves, she told Variety.

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Cosby told her, “I want you to take the time to look at me and trust the audience will be with you,” she said. “When we were taping the pilot episode, Mr. Cosby said one thing to the entire cast. He said, ‘Don’t try to be funny, just tell the story.’ ”

Rashad said when the show ended, she took a souvenir — a cookie jar — to remember her experiences.

“It was home,” she said of the set and what the cookie jar represented. “Everyone touched it. When I look at it, I think of the kitchen, and the kitchen is the heart of the home.”

As for her future direction, Rashad will star in the OWN drama David Makes Man, in which she portrays a middle school teacher to the main character.

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