Earle Hyman, the actor best known for playing Russell Huxtable, the wise father of Bill Cosby’s Dr. Cliff Huxtable on “The Cosby Show,” passed away on Friday a the age of 91, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Hyman — a seasoned stage performer and regular on and off Broadway — was nominated for a Tony award for his role as Oscar in the 1980 play “The Lady From Dubuque.” He also replaced Morgan Freeman in the off-Broadway smash “Driving Miss Daisy.” Hyman adored the play so much that he reprised his role when the shoe opened in Norway and performed all his lines in Norweigan.
“While acting in London I studied French. By then I had a hankering to study Norwegian so I could read Ibsen, Hyman told the New York times in a 1991 interview. “I came to Norway in 1957 and my first visit was to Ibsen’s grandson and his wife. Well, I said, darn it, I’m going to find a school or somebody and learn Ibsen’s language. As a result of learning Norwegian I got Danish and Swedish (which are very similar).”
Hyman played the role grandfather to the fie Cosby kids from 1984 to 1992 and received an Emmy nomination in 1986 for outstanding guest performance in a comedy series on “The Cosby Show” episode “Happy Anniversary.”
“That’s the one episode that was the most loved, most seen. People just loved it. It just shot off the charts,” Hyman said on a 2009 edition of the podcast “Just My Show.” “We just had a ball, and the atmosphere just went over into a kind of reality. We were no longer Clarice and Earle, we were really Anna and Russell Huxtable.”
Cartoon fans will remember Hyman for his role as Panthro in 125 episodes of the popular ’80s animated series “ThunderCats.”