As Cosby's star dims, Phila. to erase a mural

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A portrait of Bill Cosby stares out at passersby as they walk under the bridge at North Broad Street near Indiana. The city's Mural Arts Program plans to remove a mural. ( Michael Bryant / Staff Photographer )

A mural on Broad Street in North Philadelphia depicts the Bill Cosby that Philadelphia once revered.

The comedian stands tall in the 2008 Father's Day painting, his eyes kind and smiling, alongside civil rights leaders including the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela.

In yet another sign of Cosby's fall from public grace, the mural will soon disappear.

A Philadelphia native who attended Temple University on a track and field scholarship in the early 1960s, Cosby has long been a city icon. But now, facing more than a dozen sexual assault allegations and recent reports that he acknowledged obtaining Quaaludes to give women before sex, the star is under heavy scrutiny.

In a deposition in a 2005 civil case - portions of which were made public this week - Cosby testified that he gave the drug to at least one woman he had sex with, but said both the drug use and the sex were consensual.

The Mural Arts Program had planned to remove the mural, near Indiana Avenue, for months, according to spokeswoman Cari Feiler Bender, because it was painted on a wall that is now in poor shape. But the recent public scrutiny surrounding Cosby has accelerated those plans.

"We've decided to move it up on our list," Bender said, adding there is not yet an exact time frame for its removal.

The mural's pending elimination follows months of controversy surrounding Cosby. Long a prominent supporter of his alma mater, he resigned from Temple's board of trustees late last year.

Cosby's publicist, David Brokaw, could not immediately be reached for comment.


mconway@philly.com

215-854-2819 @MadelineRConway