The story of Bill Cosby and how the renowned comedian became a multi-millionaire despite his troubled origins is well known. But many may not know of the woman behind his success, his mother, Anna Pearl Cosby. Other people may have helped him reach his current status, but none of their contributions compare to that of his mom Anna.
To find out about her origins and the many trials and tribulations Cosby faced to shape Bill and his brothers’ lives, read the article below.
Anna Pearl Cosby Was Born In A Family Of Eight
Bill’s mother Anna was born on Brunswick County, Virginia, United States. She was the daughter of William Sidney Hite and Martha Alice Rice. She also had seven siblings: Lillie, William, James, Lillian, Burnett, Bernard, and Burtha Hite.
Hite’s ancestors were slaves from Virginia. The family moved north to Philadelphia during the Great Black Migration. Her father was a farmer and died of neurosyphilis in 1922. She was only ten at the time of her dad’s death.
After her father’s death, her mother would go on to marry her stepfather, a local preacher named Robert Willis Morgan. There are implications that the stepdad-daughter’s relationship was not all roses and rainbows in Bill Cosby’s biography, Cosby: His Life and Times.
Anna Wanted To Become A Teacher
She attended the Philadelphia High School for Girls (short: Girls’ High). At the time, Anna was living with one of her father’s younger brothers, Robert Hite. Robert and his wife, Bell, acted as her guardians until early ninth grade. But, due to some family-related issues, Cosby couldn’t complete the grade.
She later also went to high school but only studied till the first semester. She had a dream of becoming a teacher. However, her dream wouldn’t become a reality since she never really completed her studies. Instead, since she was fourteen, she made a living as a maid, mostly cleaning, sewing, and cooking for as little as eight dollars.
Anna Cosby And Her Husband Lived In The Same Neighborhood
Anna lived around the corner from her husband, William Henry Cosby Sr. William’s family lived in a row house on West Godfrey Avenue in an area within Germantown, Somerville. The pair shared contrasting personality traits: Anna was bright and spirited, while William was moody and not well-educated. He was also a year younger and taller than Anna.
Her hubby had “behavioral problems ” and was sent to Virginia when he was younger. However, he returned to Philadelphia later and began dating Anna. They were neighbors for a very long time and also had common friends. The entire community expected them to marry sooner or later.
Her Marriage With William Henry Sr.
Cosby and William tied the knot on the day before Labor Day in 1936. They were 23 and 24 at the time. The duo went on to welcome four children together. Their marriage was fine at first, but things got worse when their second child suffered illnesses since his birth.
The emotional and financial pressures got to William Sr., and he began to drink. The pair encountered various problems in their married life from that time on. Anna’s ex-husband would spend most of their earnings on booze. He would stay late drinking at bars, and if he didn’t get enough money, he would even scold and beat her.
The family relationship was getting worse, and she often had to send Bill to her relatives not to get him involved. Soon after the Second World War started, William Sr. enlisted in the Navy as a mess steward. Their marriage looked bound to fail, and sometime after the war, he left the family to fend for themselves.
Anna Pearl Cosby Had Four Kids
Ten months after their marriage, the former pair had their first son, William Henry Cosby Jr., aka Bill Cosby, on July 12, 1937. Their second child, James, battled with illness from birth and would eventually die of Rheumatoid fever when he was six in 1946.
They also had two more children, Robert and Russell Cosby.
She Was An Inspiration To Her Kids
It was no secret that the Cosby family lived in poverty. There are several instances mentioned in her son’s biography about him having only two pairs of clothes.
When Anna’s husband began drinking, and the family’s financial situation took a hit, the children would search for change in their father’s pocket. When the siblings got caught by William Sr, Anna would swoop in and take the blame for them instead.
She was deeply affected by the death of her second child. But she worked herself to the point of exhaustion to provide a better living for the sake of her little ones.
Besides her daily job as a maid, she was also the instructor of a makeshift charm school, which held its classes in the family apartment. Her unfulfilled dreams became a driving force for her to provide her kids with the education she couldn’t get.
As such, Bill’s mother took extra care and sent all of his siblings to college. She also made no exceptions and loved all of them equally.
Anna’s Relationship With Bill
Being the oldest son, Bill, the father of Evin Harrah Cosby shared a loving bond with his late mother. Anna was also cautious in handling him as he was quite a troublemaker. On one occasion, she even caught him revealing his nether regions to the entire neighborhood as part of a prank.
Bill once also mentioned he feared disappointing his momma Anna when he was not going to school. But, remembering his mom’s lessons, he would go on to complete his studies and eventually find success through comedy.
Is Anna Pearl Cosby Dead?
Unfortunately, Anna died on August 7, 1991, aged 78, in Fayetteville, Fayette County, Georgia. A private memorial was held for her three days later, on August 10.
Although she is no longer with us, Anna has left behind a lasting legacy in Bill, Russell, and Robert, who are successful in their respective life.