1 9 7 2 – 1 9 8 5 (USA)
Based on Bill Cosby‘s comedy records from the 1960s, Fat Albert and The Cosby Kids featured animated stories about a group of urban adolescents growing up in a Philadelphia neighbourhood.
Colourful characters such as the obese Albert himself, Russell (the youngest member of the gang, based on Cosby’s real-life little brother), Mushmouth (who had big flubbery lips and a subsequent speech impediment “ey-ba-deyba”), Dumb Donald (the one with the bright pink hat pulled down over his face), Weird Harold (a tall and gangly kid who lived up to his name) and Rudy (a well-to-do and occasionally conniving type) hung out – mainly in the street – and always ended the episode with a moralistic musical number which the kids played on instruments fashioned out of junk.
The episodes revolved around the daily life lessons learned by Albert and his friends. Topics ranged from social issues to personal introspection and were blended with humour and music.
Bill Cosby appeared on camera in short live-action segments to comment with or about the characters and what they learned during the episode.
The show’s producers engaged a number of educators from UCLA to work directly with the studio’s writers on story detail and character development.
In 1979 the show was re-titled The New Fat Albert Show and featured a new segment called The Brown Hornet, a send-up of superhero cartoons starring a larger-than-life African-American crime fighter in outer space.
Bill Cosby lent his voice to many of the Fat Albert characters, playing Fat Albert, Bill, Mushmouth, Mudfoot and the Brown Hornet.
Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids enjoyed one of the longest careers in Saturday morning cartoon history, running for twelve consecutive years; a record bested only by the many incarnations of Scooby–Doo.
The show initially ran on CBS from 1972 to 1984 but moved to NBC in syndication for one year in 1989. The series received critical acclaim from parents and educators alike and the ratings were consistently strong.
The Brown Hornet