It’s hard to believe, but The Cosby Show premiered 30 years ago today, on September 20, 1984. It immediately began to dominate broadcast television, becoming a Thursday night staple in over 21 million households in the US. It became a cornerstone of prime time television, single-handedly reviving both the sitcom format and its network, NBC. The show had an incredibly successful run of 202 episodes over eight seasons, finally going off the air in 1992.
If you were alive in the 1980s, you almost certainly knew everything about The Cosby Show. At least you think you did. Here are some surprising facts about everyone’s favorite TV family.
1. Whitney Houston turned down the role of Sondra Huxstable, the eldest daughter in the family. Although the family had just four children in the pilot, a fifth child was added and first appeared in episode 10. Whitney was unable to commit to the full production schedule and wanted to focus on her music recording career. The role of Sondra was instead performed by Sabrina Le Beauf.
2. Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable was actually called “Clifford” in the first few episodes of the show, and his nameplate on the exterior shots of the house also display “Clifford.” It was changed to “Heathcliff” later in the first season.
3. The show’s theme, Kiss Me was composed by Stu Gardner and Bill Cosby. There were seven different versions of the theme song used during the course of the series. The most famous was in the fourth season from 1987-88, when the theme song was performed by Bobby McFerrin.
4. Despite all the success of The Cosby Show, in 2002 TV Guide only ranked it #28 in its list of the 50 Greatest Television Shows of All-Time.
5. TV Guide made up for the slight two years later by proclaiming Dr. Cliff Huxtable as TV’s #1 Greatest Dad of All-Time.
6. Samuel L. Jackson was Bill Cosby’s stand-in for several years. Jackson said of the experience, “I was the right height, and I was the right skin tone. We did the blocking, while they did the camera choreography because it was a three-camera show. For two to three years, they would put his crazy sweaters on me.”
The Cosby Show