How rich is Bill Cosby following the sexual assault allegations that put him back in the public eye? Perhaps needless to say, not as much as he used to be; his stock in the entertainment industry has dropped considerably with fewer people willing to hire the aging comedian. It has also tainted his over-50 years of work, which ranges from stand-up comedy acts to live-action television to an animated series to Jell-O commercials. While Bill Cosby’s net worth currently sits at an amazing $400.0 million amassed over his career, the defamation suit against him means that it may not stay that high by 2016’s end.
William Henry “Bill” Cosby, Jr. was born July 12, 1937 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His years before fame were very active: he played numerous sports, starred in plays, worked numerous part-time jobs at once to help support his family, dropped out of school after failing the tenth grade, enlisted in the U.S. Navy and attended university (he graduated high school via correspondence courses).
Cosby quit university to begin a career in stand-up comedy, making his name through humorous takes on his youth, first performing in 1962 before being seen nationally on The Tonight Show a year later. He went on to begin his acting career in 1965 when he appeared on I Spy as the first African American in a starring role, for which he won three straight Emmys. During the show’s run, he added to his net worth considerably by continuing to do stand-up and recording comedy albums.
Bill Cosby continued to accumulate wealth through regular television appearances and specials, including The Bill Cosby Show and Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids. But what brought him the most success was The Cosby Show, a sitcom starring Cosby himself that began in September of 1984. Based around the Huxtable family, the show was considered one of the biggest TV successes of the ’80s and is credited with saving both NBC and sitcoms in general, in addition to paving the way for future shows with a primarily black cast. The Cosby Show is believed to have been the source of a large portion of Bill Cosby’s net worth, with the total earnings of the series itself coming to $330.0 million. Notably, the show’s reruns were removed from television following the sexual assault claims, meaning Cosby has since stopped received royalties from the show’s continued airing. Later on in 1996, he was the star of another family-based sitcom called Cosby, for which he made $1.0 million per episode for the 95-episode series.
Cosby also made a pretty penny from advertising since becoming a household name, and was one of the first black people in the U.S. to serve as a spokesperson. His first advertising gig came from White Owl cigars and he has since branched out to represent Coca-Cola, Texas Instruments, and more. But most important was Cosby’s partnership with Jell-O, for which he began appearing in advertisements in 1974. The comic/actor’s influence was so great that when the company introduced Jell-O Pudding Pops, he was largely attributed to their success—the product selling $100 million worth in its first year. Bill Cosby has promoted Jell-O products for so long that he holds the world record as longest-serving celebrity spokesperson for a brand/product.
However, as noted, Bill Cosby’s net worth and personal stock face taking a massive hit. The celebrity was accused by over 50 women of sexual assault, including drugging, rape, and child sexual abuse. The women say these acts began as early as the 1960s and that they didn’t come forward sooner due to Cosby’s fame and influence. While many of the accusations fall outside the statute of limitation, numerous civil suits have been brought against Cosby, his lawyer, and even his wife. As a result of the charges as well as a December, 2015, arrest for sexual assault on which he is currently out on bail, many companies and groups have distanced themselves from Bill Cosby and some of his past honors have been revoked; it goes without saying that even if he is found innocent, the charges will hinder Bill Cosby’s net worth going forward, if not outright reduce it.
Breakdown of Bill Cosby Net Worth
|The Cosby Show total earnings||$330.0 million|
|Cosby total earnings||$95.0 million|
|Fee per speaking engagement||$100,000|
|Estimated current net worth||$400.0 million|