Even as other entertainment outlets abandoned him and suspicion grew over a series of renewed allegations of sexual assault, Bill Cosby was welcomed to a central Florida theater Friday night to a rousing standing ovation.
Wearing his trademark "Hello Friend" sweater in tribute to his late son, the 77-year-old comedian acknowledged the audience by flashing a thumbs up. The opening moments of his performance made no mention of the controversy that has threatened his legacy as one of television's most beloved figures.
The beginning of his routine, which he delivered sitting down next to a small table, revolved on bits about a religious relay race, churchgoing and drink-swilling relatives. The audience laughed and clapped appreciatively.
The performance was being held as accusations mounted against the legendary entertainer. A Florida nurse named Therese Serignese became one of the latest to level allegations against Cosby, claiming that the entertainer had drugged and sexually assaulted her in Las Vegas in 1976. In an interview with the Huffington Post, she said Cosby was "lying" and exhorted him to apologize.
At least a half-dozen women, including Louis Ferrigno's wife, Carla, and the model Janice Dickinson, have stepped forward in recent weeks accusing the star of sexual assault.