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Phylicia Rashād
Phylicia Rashad appears on the series as attorney Clair Huxtable, wife of Cliff Huxtable.
Vital Information
Born: (1948-06-19) June 19, 1948 (age 73)
Place of birth: Houston, Texas, U.S.
Family/Career Information
Years active: 1972–present
Spouse(s): William Lancelot Bowles, Jr. (1972–1975)
Victor Willis (1978–1982)
Ahmad Rashād (1985–2001)
Related to: Debbie Allen (sister)
Website/URL: Facebook page
Character/series information
Appeared on
/involved with:
The Cosby Show
Character played Clair Huxtable

Phylicia Rashād (born Phylicia Ayers-Allen; June 19, 1948) is an American Tony Award-winning actress and singer, best known for her role as Clair Huxtable on the long-running NBC sitcom The Cosby Show.

In 2004, Rashād became the first African-American actress to win the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play, for her role in the revival of A Raisin in the Sun.[1][2] She resumed the role in the 2008 television adaptation of A Raisin in the Sun, which earned her the 2009 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special. Rashād was dubbed "the mother" of the African-American community at the 42nd NAACP Image Awards.

Early life[]

Rashād was born in Houston, Texas. Her mother, Vivian Ayers, was a Pulitzer-prize nominated artist, poet, playwright, scholar, and publisher. Her father, Andrew Arthur Allen (d. 1984), was an orthodontist.[3][4] Rashād's siblings are jazz-musician brother Tex (Andrew Arthur Allen, Jr., born 1945), sister Debbie Allen (1950), an actress, choreographer, and television director, and brother Hugh Allen (a real estate banker in North Carolina). While Rashād was growing up, her family moved to Mexico, and as a result, Rashād speaks Spanish fluently.

Rashād studied at Howard University, graduating magna cum laude in 1970 with a Bachelor's degree in Fine Arts.[5]


Phylicia first became notable on the stage with a string of Broadway theatre credits, including Deena Jones in Dreamgirls (she was Sheryl Lee Ralph's understudy until she left the show in 1982 after Rashād was passed over as Ralph's full-time replacement) and playing a Munchkin in The Wiz. In 1978, she released the album Josephine Superstar, a disco Concept album telling the life story of Josephine Baker. The album was mainly written and produced by [[Jacques Morali and Rashād's second husband Victor Willis, original lead singer and lyricist of the Village People. She met Willis while they were both cast in The Wiz.

Other Broadway credits include August: Osage County, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Gem of the Ocean, Raisin in the Sun (2004 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play/Drama Desk Award), Blue, Jelly's Last Jam, Into the Woods, and Ain't Supposed To Die A Natural Death. Off-Broadway credits include Lincoln Center’s productions of Cymbeline and Bernarda Alba a musical; Helen, The Story and Everybody's Ruby at the Public Theater; The Negro Ensemble Company productions of Puppet Play, Zooman and the Sign, Sons and Fathers of Sons, In an Upstate Motel, Weep Not For Me, and The Great Mac Daddy; Lincoln Center's production of Ed Bullins' The Duplex; and The Sirens at the Manhattan Theatre Club. In regional theatre, she performed as Euripedes' Medea and in Blues for an Alabama Sky at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia. Other regional theatres at which she has performed are the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. and the Huntington Theatre in Boston.

In 2007, Rashād made her directorial debut with the Seattle Repertory Theatre’s production of August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean.[6]

Film and television[]

Rashād received a career boost when she joined the cast of the ABC-TV soap opera One Life to Live in 1983. Her biggest career break to date which catapulted her to stardom is her best known role, that of attorney Clair Huxtable on The Cosby Show. The show starred Bill Cosby as obstetrician Cliff Huxtable, and focused on their life with their five children.

When Cosby returned to TV comedy in 1996 with CBS's Cosby, he called on Rashād to play Ruth Lucas, his character's wife. The pilot episode had been shot with Telma Hopkins, but Cosby then fired the executive producer and replaced Hopkins with Rashād.[7] The sitcom ran from 1996 to 2000.[8] That year, Cosby asked Rashād to work on his animated television series Little Bill, in which the actress voiced Bill's mother, Brenda, until the show's end in 2004. She also played a role in the pre-show of the "Dinosaur" ride at Walt Disney World's Animal Kingdom theme park.

She played Kill Moves' affluent mother on Everybody Hates Chris on Sunday, December 9, 2007. In 2007 she appeared as Winnie Guster in the Psych episode Gus's Dad May Have Killed an Old Guy. She returned to the role in 2008, in the episode Christmas Joy.

In February 2008, she appeared in the television adaptation of A Raisin in the Sun. She starred on Broadway theatre as Big Mama in an all-African American production of Tennessee Williams's Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Cat on a Hot Tin Roof directed by her sister Debbie Allen. She appeared alongside stage veterans James Earl Jones (Big Daddy) and Anika Noni Rose (Maggie), as well as film actor Terrence Howard, who makes his Broadway theatre debut as Brick. She will appear as Violet Weston, the drug-addicted matriarch of Tracy Lett's award-winning play, August: Osage County at the Music Box Theatre.

In November 2010, Rashād starred in the Tyler Perry film For Colored Girls, based on the play For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf]] by Ntozake Shange.

Personal life[]

Rashād's first marriage, in 1972, was to dentist William Lancelot Bowles, Jr. They had one son, William Lancelot Bowles III, who was born the following year. The marriage ended in 1975. Rashād then married Victor Willis (original lead singer of the Village People) in 1978. Their divorce was finalized in 1982.

She married former NFL wide receiver and sportscaster Ahmad Rashād on December 14, 1985. It was a third marriage for both of them and she took his last name. They were married after he proposed to her during a pregame show for a nationally televised Thanksgiving Day football game between the New York Jets and the Detroit Lions on November 28, 1985.[9][10] Their daughter, Condola Phyleia Rashād,[11] was born on December 11, 1986 in New York. The couple divorced in early 2001,[12] but she kept the name Rashād.


  • Rashād received two Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, for The Cosby Show. She received an Emmy Award Nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie for A Raisin in the Sun in 2008.
  • In 2004, Rashād became the first African-American actress to win the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play, for her role in the revival of A Raisin in the Sun.[2][13] She was nominated for the same award the following year, for Gem of the Ocean.[2] Also, the 2008 television adaption of A Raisin in the Sun earned her the 2009 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special.
  • In 2011, Rashād won the "Outstanding Supporting Actress" award at the Black Reel Awards for her role in For Colored Girls, which also earned her a 2011 NAACP Image Award nomination for NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture.
  • On May 15, 2011 Rashād received an honorary doctorate degree from Spelman College for her work in the Arts.[14]
  • In 2003, she was honored as Woman of the Year by the Harvard Black Men's Forum.
  • In 2005, Rashād received an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts (D.F.A.) degree from Brown University.[15]
  • In 2011, she was named the first Denzel Washington Chair professor in Theatre at Fordham University, supported by a $2 million gift from the actor.[16]


  1. "Tony Awards Wrap Up" by Amy Somensky. Jun 9, 2004]
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Tony Awards (official site)
  3. Phylicia Birthday-01948-June-19. Archived from the original on 2007-11-14. Retrieved on 2007-12-27.
  4. Lawrence, Muhammad. - "One-woman dynamo". - The Courier-Journal. - September 12, 1999.
  5. About Phylicia Rashad. Yahoo! Inc. Retrieved on 13 August 2012.
  6. Phylicia Rashād to direct Seattle Repertory Theatre's Gem of the Ocean. Monsters and Critics (December 6, 2006). Retrieved on December 11, 2009.
  7. Dana Kennedy. "Pilot Errors This Fall Season", Entertainment Weekly, September 20, 1996. Retrieved on 2007-06-21. 
  8. "Cosby" (1996). Retrieved on 2007-06-21.
  9. Moses, Gavin. "Sportscaster Ahmad Rashād Scores with a Televised Proposal to Cosby's Phylicia Ayers-Allen", People Magazine, December 16, 1985. Retrieved on October 31, 2009. 
  10. Ken Shouler. "Catching It All", Cigar Aficionado. Retrieved on 2007-06-21. 
  11.ād%2520Resume.pdfTemplate:Dead link
  12. "Actress Phylicia Rashād Divorcing Sportscaster Husband Ahmad Rashād", Jet, 2001-03-05. Retrieved on 2007-06-21. 
  13. Monsters & Critics: "Tony Awards Wrap Up", by Amy Somensky. Jun 9, 2004
  14. "Michelle Obama Addresses 2011 Spelman Class; Joins Debbie Allen, Phylicia Rashad as Honorees", Rolling Out, May 16, 2011. Retrieved on May 17, 2011. 
  15. 04-126 (Honorary Degrees 2005)
  16. "Denzel Washington donates $2.25 million to Fordham", The Wall Street Journal, October 5, 2011. Retrieved on 2011-10-05. 

External links[]