FAT ALBERT AND THE COSBY KIDSOriginal Medium: Stand-up comedy
Delivered by: Bill Cosby
First Appeared: 1960s
Creator: Bill Cosby
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Fat Albert first appeared as a character in Bill Cosby's stand-up comedy routines. He was supposedly one of the kids in the Philadelphia neighborhood where Cosby grew up. He was so popular with
audiences in the 1960s and early '70s, that in 1972 he became the star of a Saturday morning animated TV show on CBS.
Cosby himself did Fat Albert's voice, as well as the voices of three of the other "Cosby Kids" — Mushmouth, Mudfoot and Dumb Donald. Other voices were provided by Jan Crawford (Russell and Bucky), Gerald Edwards (Weird Harold) and Eric Suter (Rudy & Devery). In addition, Cosby did the voice of The Brown Hornet, a television superhero idolized by the boys. Production on the series was done by Filmation, which also did animated versions of Mattel's He-Man & the Masters of the Universe and Archie Comics' Archie and Sabrina the Teenage Witch.
As was the case with many 1970s TV cartoons, there was strong emphasis on teaching positive social values to children. Fat Albert and his friends usually had important and socially relevant decisions to make. They often took guidance from The Brown Hornet, whose adventures appeared in a separate segment of the show, and often parallelled what was going on in the neighborhood so that his actions were able to point the way to the correct choices. And just to make sure the young viewers got the point, Cosby himself would hammer it home in live-action commentary.
Despite the typical '70s pedantry, there was enough entertainment in Fat Albert to keep it running as a network show for a phenomenal twelve years, with new episodes produced during the first five. It even got an Emmy Award nomination in 1974. In addition, Gold Key Comics did a comic book adaptation of it, which ran 29 issues, from 1974-79.
Fat Albert & the Cosby Kids was definitely a product of its time, and despite its long original run, is seldom seen in reruns. Nonetheless, his familiar cry, "Hey hey hey", is fondly recalled by a generation of fans.