Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids is an animated television series that was created by Bill Cosby. The show premiered in 1972 under the production company named Filmation and it ran until 1985. The show is based on Bill Cosby’s childhood memory with his childhood friends. Each episode of Fat Albert has an educational lesson in the end and it is emphasized by Bill Cosby’s live-action segments. And during the early episodes of the show, Fat Albert and his friends typically gather in the North Philadelphia Junkyard to sing a song with their cobbled-together instruments while summarizing the show’s lesson.
Fat Albert was first seen in Bill Cosby’s stand-up comedy routine named “Buck-Buck” which was recorded on his album Revenge that was released in 1967. The stories were about Bill Cosby’s tales while he was growing up in North Philadelphia. In 1969, Cosby brought Fat Albert to life by teaming up with a veteran animator named Ken Mundie and they created a prime-time animation special entitled “Hey, Hey, Hey, It’s Fat Albert”. The live action and animation mixed special were aired on NBC and it even had music specifically written for the show which was performed by jazz keyboardist and pianist Herbie Hancock in 1969. Later on, it was released on the Warner Bros. album entitled Fat Albert Rotunda. Cosby and Mundie wanted to develop the actual appearance of Fat Albert’s friends that’s why they decided to add another animator, Amby Paliwoda who is a former Disney animator. Paliwoda created the characters of the Gang and painted a group portrait which eventually landed on the front page of TV Guide magazine after the special was aired.
When the producers saw potential in the show, they wanted to air Fat Albert during Saturday mornings on NBC but the network programming managers refused because they said that the animated TV series was too educational. That’s why Bill Cosby, along with a new production company named Filmation Associates, took the show to CBS where Fat Albert and his Gang had new images that were created by artist Randy Hollar and Michelle McKinney.
When the animated series aired on CBS, it was retitled to Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids and its first episode was aired on September 9, 1972. The show’s production lasted for twelve years, although it was not continuous. It had three prime-time holiday specials which featured special characters. Just like every Saturday morning cartoons during that time, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids featured an adult laugh track but it was eliminated during the show’s last season. In 1989, the animated TV series had its rerun on NBC Saturday mornings and the USA Network.
Fat Albert and his Gang
Fat Albert and his Gang all portrayed different personalities and characters and here they are:
He was voiced by Bill Cosby himself and he was based on his childhood friend named Albert Robertson. He is the main character of the show and he is the leader of the Junkyard Gang. Even though he may be a little obese, Fat Albert is athletic and he loves playing sports. Fat Albert is considered to be wise beyond his years and he likes to maintain his integrity in the gang and with other people as well.
James “Mushroom” Mush
James Mush was also voiced by Bill Cosby. He is a slack-jawed, gullible person with big lips. He is always seen wearing a blue scarf and a red knit hat. He always talks in virtual “Ubbi Dubbi” because of an overdose of novocaine in his mouth.
Miller was voiced by Jan Crawford and as his name shows, he has a large overbite. Bucky is a quick and flexible athlete and he plays the stovepipe organ in the Junkyard Band.
Rudy Davis was voiced by Eric Suter and he is a smoot-talking and smart dressed guy with a smart-aleck character which always gets him into trouble. Davis is Donald Parker’s best friend. Even if he sometimes has a cocky attitude and a dismissive demeanor he has a good heart and he always learns from his mistakes.
William “Bill” Cosby
He is also obviously voiced by Bill Cosby and his character is based on Cosby himself and he plays the host of the animated series. Bill is also a good athlete and he loves playing sports just like Fat Albert. He is always the voice of reason in the gang but sometimes he can be a little stubborn.
Weird Harold Simmons
Simmons was voiced by Gerald Edwards. He is a tall, beady-eyed, skinny kid who always wears a gold dress blazer and a wrong pair of socks.
Russel Cosby was also voiced by Jan Crawford. He is Bill’s younger brother and he is based on Bill Cosby’s real-life brother. He is the youngest and smallest among the Junkyard Gang and he likes wearing a yellow scarf, red boots and a heavy blue jacket.
Fat Albert’s Awards
Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids was nominated in the Emmy’s in 1974. And IGN named them as the 82nd best animated series of all time. TV Guide named the show as the best cartoon series of the 1970s in 1993 during the magazine’s celebration of 40 years of television.
Fat Albert and Other Media
Fat Albert also had a comic book adaptation by Gold Key Comics which ran for 29 issues from 1974 to 1979. It also had a film adaptation that was released in 2004 entitled Fat Albert which starred Kenan Thompson, Kyla Pratt, and Bill Cosby.