Camille Cosby may not be as visible as her famous husband Bill, particularly as the iconic comedian faces a retrial in a decades-old sexual assault claim launched against him within days of the expiration of Pennsylvania’s 12-year statute of limitations.
However, the devoted wife and mother might be the first to say, “Don’t get it twisted,” because it’s Camille who has in many ways been the very reason that her husband has been able to endure his trials.
In fact, Cosby himself lent insight into that very idea.
“Love. Love and the strength of womanhood,” Cosby said of his wife.
And some have argued that there’s a difference between a strong woman and one who simply has physical and perhaps emotional strength.
Andrew Wyatt, the family’s longtime spokesman who talks with the couple daily, sings Camille’s praises at every opportunity.
“She’s a rock,” Wyatt said this week as Bill Cosby sat through two days of court hearings in preparation for his April 2 trial. “We talk all of the time and she’s always concerned about her husband. She’s an amazing woman.”
Wyatt said Camille Cosby is both a strong woman and a woman of great emotional and physical strength.
“With Mrs. Cosby at the helm, we all have great posture,” Wyatt said.
On Jan. 25, Bill and Camille celebrated 54 years of marriage, though both might agree that there’s been much more clouds than sun as of late.
With prosecutors claiming her husband is a criminal based on unsubstantiated claims that go back to 1965, the couple again faced the unthinkable last month when they lost their 44-year-old daughter Ensa to kidney failure.
“Camille was with her. Didn’t leave her side,” Wyatt said.
When the family was struck with tragedy in 1997 learning that their only son, Ennis, had been murdered while changing a flat tire near a Los Angeles freeway, Wyatt said Camille led the family with her sheer strength.
She also has remained strong for her husband despite the avalanche of bad publicity that’s ended his career, destroyed his legacy and revealed to the world that, at the very least, the man once known as “America’s dad” had cheated on his wife.
“He’s flawed. … Some of you see a brilliant comedian and some of you see a flawed husband whose infidelity made him vulnerable,” Cosby’s former attorney Brian McMonagle told the jury during the first trial. “We don’t run from the fact that is a man who by his own admission danced outside his marriage.”
And that’s an issue that Cosby has had to face with Camille.
“You can’t judge him and certainly you can’t judge her,” Father Carl Dianda, the late D.C.-based priest who presided over the Cosbys’ wedding ceremony, said in 2014.
Dianda, who died in 2016, said Camille “has always been this steady, unmovable, mountain-like figure.”
“Bill wouldn’t be as successful without her because she’s the backbone for everything, and whatever he may have done outside of the marriage, I’m sure he’s paid for it because she’s never been a pushover,” he said.
Known as a woman of immense intellect, Cosby earned a doctorate from the University of Massachusetts in 1992, long after she and her husband had raised five children.
A lover of the arts, Camille helped her husband to assemble some of the most valuable pieces of art work in the world with a collection that still sits on exhibit at the Smithsonian National Museum of Art in Washington.
She also has donated nearly $100 million to colleges and universities, including Spelman where she gave a $20 million gift in 1988.
As speculation mounted that Cosby may have abandoned her husband during his trial last year, she appeared at court by his side during closing statements.
Quietly, she sat. Astutely she observed. Then, during a break, Camille rose, strolled over to her husband at the defense chair, rubbed his face and gave him a kiss on the forehead before exiting the court with an assistant.
“Like the queen that she is,” Wyatt said. “Her presence is awe-inspiring.”