Camille Olivia Hanks was studying at the University of Maryland when she met Bill Cosby in the early ’60s. He was doing stand-up comedy in Washington when the two were set up on a blind date. They fell in love and she left school to support his burgeoning career in entertainment.
By 1964, the two were married and they would go on to have five children together. In 1997, their son Ennis (who inspired the character Theo Huxtable) was murdered, and a few years later Dr. Camille Cosby did a one-on-one with Oprah explaining how she’d eventually been able to find joy after mourning the loss of a child.
Throughout that interview it was so clear that you were looking at the real-life Clair Huxtable that even Oprah seemed a bit star-struck by her poise and grace.
During her 2000 appearance on Oprah, Camille revealed:
“I became keenly aware of myself in my mid-thirties. I went through a transition. I decided to go back to school, because I had dropped out of college to marry Bill when I was 19. I had five children, and I decided to go back. I didn’t feel fulfilled educationally. I dropped out of school at the end of my sophomore year. So I went back, and when I did, my self-esteem grew. I got my master’s, then decided to get my doctoral degree. Education helped me to come out of myself.”
When asked why she wasn’t content to just settle for being the wife of a famous entertainer she continued:
“I don’t know exactly what it was, except that for me, integrity is important. For me friendships are important, family is important, and it is a blessing if we can have monetary benefits. That’s wonderful, and I love it. But I have to have the security of people who really care about me, and me about them. I want to be surrounded by people who have integrity. And, of course, my name is Camille, not Bill.”
That was a beautiful answer. But a lot has changed since then.
These days, Camille Cosby is standing alongside her husband during what may turn out to be the worst month of his long career.
For the last few weeks, the beloved TV dad who used to sell us Jell-O pudding pops has been at the center of an ever-growing scandal. He has canceled several appearances, Netflix has postponed the launch of his stand-up special, NBC nixed plans for a new comedy show, and this week Janice Dickinson became the latest woman to make allegations against him; telling E News that he raped her in 1982 after she’d done a stint in rehab.
Cosby is arguably the most successful African-American performer in television history, but this isn’t the first time he has found himself under scrutiny for extramarital affairs.
In his biography, “Cosby: His Life and Times,” Mark Whitaker makes mention of the legendary comedian’s “roving eye” and even tells an anecdote about how he finally cut back on his womanizing by breaking up with his long-time girlfriend. Now it seems those softball admissions about having a weakness for beautiful women may have been shrouding something much more sinister than an affair.
In the last decade alone, more than a dozen women have accused Cosby of rape or sexual assault. No formal charges have ever been successfully filed, so even with all the media speculation, these claims are technically only allegations. But there is one person in this melee whose anguish is virtually indisputable: his wife, Camille.
So how does a woman like that end up spending 50 years of her life beside a man who is now alleged to be a serial rapist? One can only imagine the embarrassment she must be experiencing through all this. But her dilemma is a lot more common than you may think.
In a world that asks you to be a mother, a wife, a businesswoman and an alluring sexual being, women grapple with finding the balance between respecting themselves and prioritizing their relationships. While many say they would leave a spouse who cheats, experts estimate that approximately 50-75% of couples rocked by an affair stay together.
There are many reasons why some women choose to stay: the fear of being alone, financial dependency, belief that they can alter the behavior of their mate, professional status of their partner, deep emotional investment and family obligations.
It is hard enough to come back from infidelity in private, let alone when you have the added stress of being a public figure. Both Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Edwards have weathered similar storms with men they devoted their lives to. And one could argue that it is a lose/lose situation for any wife who finds herself in that position: If you stay, people judge you for not standing up for yourself, and if you leave there is endless speculation about why your marriage failed.
But this isn’t just a simple case of being cheated on. There are some very serious stories coming to the forefront from those who describe Cosby as a sexual predator, who for decades allegedly drugged and violated young women who looked up to him as a mentor.
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SOURCE: CNN / theGrio.com – Blue Telusma