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'Cosby Show' Kids See Life After Last Episode

April 30, 1992|BRUCE BEAN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

For many of the Cosby kids, working on the show was like going to school, and not just for acting lessons.

"It was wonderful working with (Bill Cosby) because I learned a lot about working in this business," said Malcolm-Jamal Warner, who portrayed Theo Huxtable. "I also learned how to conduct myself in public."

Now that they've graduated from "The Cosby Show," many of the young people are hoping to put their education to work in other areas of show business.

Warner, 21, is starring in a Cosby-produced comedy pilot for NBC, playing a character not unlike Theo--a single man recently out on his own who works with troubled youngsters.

Raven-Symone, 6, who played the Huxtables' stepgranddaughter Olivia, is also starring in a comedy pilot for NBC called "Violet," about a 6-year-old who lives with her father and dreams of becoming a star.

Merlin Santana, 14, who played Stanley, Rudy's first love interest, is working on an ABC pilot called "A New Day," playing a streetwise foster-care child who is adopted by a white family in suburbia.

Karen Malina White, 23, who was on the show for two years as live-in cousin Pam's best friend, says that she hopes to join the cast of NBC's "A Different World," the "Cosby" spin-off.

Two other Cosby kids are concentrating on a more traditional education. Keisha Knight Pulliam, 13, who played daughter Rudy, hopes to become a doctor, her publicist said. Tempestt Bledsoe, 18, who played Vanessa Huxtable, is attending New York University.

The young "Cosby" veterans contacted by The Times expressed appreciation for the opportunity they'd been given.

"It was a positive and uplifting show and the best job I ever had," said White, who is currently working on the Off-Broadway production of "Chain."

Deon Richmond, 13, who was with the series for seven years as Rudy's friend Kenny, agreed. "It was like a family process," he said. "I grew up in this family that always had fun."

Richmond, who is working on his own undisclosed project, said that while working was an intense time, a bit of fun was never far off.

"Cosby was always playing practical jokes, and he also let us pull a prank every now and then," he said--even on the final episode.

"I was supposed to ring the doorbell and come in, but before I went on I had makeup fix me up with a wig that made me look a lot like James Brown and went in. It got quite a laugh."

Warner said that he hopes the show gave viewers, especially African-Americans, something to aspire to, and he is happy that it was such a success.

"I'm glad those people didn't get discouraged by the criticism that the show was not black enough," he said.

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