Social media defends 'Cosby Show' actor

Former "Cosby Show" actor Geoffrey Owens got a lot of support online after a photo of him bagging groceries went viral.

Posted: Sep 5, 2018 4:28 AM
Updated: Sep 5, 2018 4:52 AM

An honest man doing an honest day's work used to be something to be celebrated in America. But it didn't seem like it -- over the Labor Day weekend, of all times -- after actor Geoffrey Owens was spotted at a Trader Joe's in New Jersey, bagging groceries.

It all started with an article in the Daily Mail late last week. A customer at the store in Clifton, New Jersey, spotted Owens -- best known for his role as son-in-law Elvin Tibideaux on "The Cosby Show" -- working as a cashier and snapped a picture.

The image became the basis for the Daily Mail's story under the job-shaming headline, "From learning lines to serving the long line!"

The details in the story were just as insulting: "Wearing an ID badge bearing his name, the former star wore a Trader Joe's T-shirt with stain marks on the front as he weighed a bag of potatoes."

The story exploded on social media over the holiday weekend after Fox News picked it up and tweeted out its own version.

But the articles seemed to produce a flood of support for Owens, as well as a conversation about job-shaming and classism.

Other actors, as well as fans, defended him.

"Family Ties" actress Justine Bateman (also of '80s TV fame), chastised the person who took Owens' picture while he was "earning an honest living."

Actor Chris Rankin, who appeared in the "Harry Potter" movies, said he worked in kitchens after the popular film franchise came to an end.

"I needed a job, no shame in that. And you know what? I really enjoyed it! You do what you need to do and that's nothing to be ashamed of," he said in a tweet.

"I swept floors AFTER the @NFL," said athlete-turned-actor Terry Crews. "If need be I'd do it again."

Actor Blair Underwood tweeted, "#NOSHAME in good, honest, hard work. He's being a man in doing what he needs to do to provide for himself and his family. Much respect to you Sir!"

Owens, 57, played the boyfriend-turned-husband of Sondra Huxtable on "The Cosby Show" and was a regular character on the show's last five seasons.

And he hasn't exactly been sitting around doing nothing since that popular series ended in 1992. A quick look at his profile on IMDB.com reveals a slew of TV roles over the past 25 years: guest shots on shows like "Law & Order," "Blue Bloods," "Lucifer, "The Blacklist" and even a couple of guest appearances on the cable sitcom "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia."

His latest TV role came this year in an episode of "Elementary," and he has a few other screen projects yet to be released.

Owens has done a lot of stage work through the years too, according to his website, and he's the founder and artistic director of The Brooklyn Shakespeare Company.

The Yale graduate, son of former U.S. congressman Major Owens, also has been directing and teaching.

But as any actor will tell you, sometimes the gaps between jobs can force you to get secondary gigs.

The Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, a union that represents actors, made the same point in its tweet standing up for Owens.

"This #LaborDay, we honor #geoffreyowens & ALL of the hard-working actors & artists who work 1, 2, 3 day jobs in order to pay the bills, take care of their families & still work to entertain us," the union wrote in a tweet replying to the Fox News story.

The union also asked other actors to share their experiences under the hashtag #ActorsWithDayJobs.

CNN has reached out to Owens and is waiting to hear back.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 319704

Reported Deaths: 7369
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22276267
Hinds20677421
Harrison18407317
Rankin13880282
Jackson13689248
Madison10249224
Lee10056176
Jones8464167
Forrest7827153
Lauderdale7260242
Lowndes6509150
Lamar634888
Lafayette6310121
Washington5420137
Bolivar4837133
Panola4669110
Oktibbeha466098
Pearl River4604147
Marshall4573105
Warren4440121
Pontotoc425373
Union415777
Monroe4155135
Neshoba4061179
Lincoln4008112
Hancock386687
Leflore3515125
Tate342486
Sunflower339491
Pike3369111
Alcorn325972
Scott320174
Yazoo314171
Adams307486
Itawamba305178
Copiah299966
Coahoma298784
Simpson298189
Tippah291968
Prentiss283861
Leake271974
Marion271280
Covington267283
Wayne264442
Grenada264087
George252051
Newton248663
Tishomingo231568
Winston229981
Jasper222148
Attala215073
Chickasaw210559
Holmes190374
Clay187854
Stone187833
Tallahatchie180041
Clarke178980
Calhoun174132
Yalobusha167840
Smith164034
Walthall135347
Greene131833
Lawrence131024
Montgomery128643
Noxubee128034
Perry127138
Amite126342
Carroll122330
Webster115032
Jefferson Davis108033
Tunica108027
Claiborne103130
Benton102325
Humphreys97533
Kemper96629
Franklin85023
Quitman82216
Choctaw79118
Wilkinson69532
Jefferson66228
Sharkey50917
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 548323

Reported Deaths: 11288
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson809531565
Mobile42066826
Madison35663525
Tuscaloosa26162458
Shelby25595254
Montgomery25081612
Baldwin21839313
Lee16265176
Calhoun14718325
Morgan14626285
Etowah14171363
Marshall12449230
Houston10764288
Elmore10295213
Limestone10182157
St. Clair10160251
Cullman9941201
Lauderdale9596249
DeKalb8967189
Talladega8458184
Walker7335280
Autauga7230113
Blount6944139
Jackson6922113
Colbert6414140
Coffee5627127
Dale4929114
Russell454941
Chilton4472116
Franklin431083
Covington4273122
Tallapoosa4136155
Escambia401780
Chambers3726124
Dallas3607156
Clarke352961
Marion3242106
Pike314078
Lawrence3129100
Winston283572
Bibb268464
Geneva257581
Marengo250665
Pickens236862
Barbour234659
Hale226878
Butler224071
Fayette218162
Henry193843
Cherokee187245
Randolph187044
Monroe179341
Washington170439
Macon162951
Clay160159
Crenshaw155657
Cleburne153244
Lamar146537
Lowndes142054
Wilcox127030
Bullock124242
Conecuh113430
Coosa111429
Perry108626
Sumter105732
Greene93534
Choctaw62025
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
79° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 82°
Columbus
Partly Cloudy
76° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 76°
Oxford
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 79°
Starkville
Partly Cloudy
75° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 75°
We continue to monitor a tropical disturbance in the Gulf of Mexico. This will be in heavy rainfall two locations across the southeast over the course of the weekend, and flooding rainfall could be in tow as well. Things are looking better for Father’s Day itself, thankfully.
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather