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Cos tickles Pink's fans for a good cause : Bill Cosby helps the hot dog landmark celebrate its 70th anniversary and raise money for at-risk kids.

November 14, 2009|Gerrick D. Kennedy

Bill Cosby manages to attract large crowds wherever he goes -- even when he's munching on chili dogs.

So it was for the recent recipient of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, who made an appearance at Pink's Famous Hot Dogs on La Brea Avenue on Thursday night to help the landmark eatery celebrate its 70th anniversary and raise money for charity.

Gloria Pink, one of the co-owners of the stand along with husband Richard Pink and his sister, Beverly Pink Wolfe, said they wanted to give something back to their loyal customers. For seven days starting at 7 p.m. their famous chili cheese dogs were sold for 70 cents for 70 minutes, with the money going to the featured celebrity's charity of choice.

"I've known [Beverly's] father for years," Cosby said, while sitting in the closed off dining room, as fans recorded him through the adjacent glass. "This is for me to celebrate her father. She took over in a way the father would want his kids to. I'm here for the spirit of her father."

Dressed in his signature University of Massachusetts hoodie and a black Pink's baseball cap, the 72-year-old waved to the hundreds of eager people. Cosby, known for his humor, candor and sometimes his testiness, chastised a paparazzo for accidentally striking a woman with his video camera and spoke about his disappointment at the report of boys allegedly sexually assaulting a teenage girl outside a suburban San Francisco high school during a homecoming dance.

He has long made headlines for his social criticisms of the black community and recently released a hip-hop album that explores drug abuse, high school dropouts and teenage pregnancy. "One day," he declares, "we will win."

Later, when he was handed a plateful of dogs with "Pink's Loves Bill Cosby" written in mustard for a photo, he let the staff know that he prefers his dogs with just "a hint" of the yellow stuff.

Cosby decided after seeing the documentary film, "The Boys of Baraka," in which a group of at-risk Baltimore kids are sent to a boarding school in Kenya, that his funds would go to that program.

"It had so many levels of reality," Cosby said about the film. "I kept thinking to myself, 'Why can't this be known?' "

Steven Chris, a 19-year-old singer and actor, said he loves Pink's but is a bigger fan of Cosby.

"He's inspirational to me," Chris said. "He's just not some famous person. He makes a difference."

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gerrick.kennedy@latimes.com

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