Long running American Saturday morning animated cartoon, 1972
, based on the childhood stories of comedian Bill Cosby
The show was based on Cosby's comedic material about growing up in Philadelphia, a staple of his stand up comedy act in the 1960's (the childhood stories from 1966's Wonderfulness and 1967's Revenge albums would later become material for the animated cartoon). Cosby himself appeared on camera (not animated) at the beginning of the show, in a junkyard, to set up the episode's animated story. The neighborhood characters were a young Bill Cosby, Fat Albert, Mushmouth (all voiced by Cosby himself), Donald (voiced by Cosby, other times by producer Lou Scheimer), Weird Harold (voiced by Gerald Edwards), Bill's younger brother Russell (voiced by Jan Crawford), and cool guy Rudy
(voiced by Eric Suter).
The show was notable for two reasons: first, it featured a cast of all African-american characters (only the 3rd Saturday morning series to do so). Second, it introduced storylines dealing with serious issues: disabilities, sex education, drug use, gang violence, divorce, death (Not every week, mind you-- sometimes the "issue" was simpler, such as honesty or hygiene). The show's characters would usually get into trouble, but then discover a mature or safe solution to whatever issue they had encountered. The live action Cosby would then himself would appear at the end of the show to sum up what they had learned, and give an "adult" imprimatur to their new found responsible behavior. Cosby, armed with his Master's degree in Education, wanted this show to be an experiment in education. He would use the early years of the program to complete his 253 page doctoral thesis, "The Integration of Visual Media Via Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids Into the Elementary Schools Culminating as a Teacher Aid to Achieve Increased Learning." Cosby would receive his Doctorate in Education (Ed.D.) in 1977 from the University of Massachusetts.
The show, produced by Filmation, ran for 12 years on CBS (although in 1979 the name changed to The New Fat Albert Show), making it second only to Scooby-Doo for longevity in the Saturday morning lineup. It was nominated for an Emmy award (but never won). The series received a Peabody award for excellence in children's television.
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