Joan Terrace (AKA Joan Tarshis) starring with Maureen O’hara in a CBS television movie “Mrs. Minerva” in 1959, when she was 11 years old. Alcoholism seems to have destroyed her promising acting career that she had as a child.
It is clear that the many news sources that carried Joan Tarshis’ allegations against Dr. Cosby in November, 2014, did not do any fact checking of her story or Tarshis herself. If they had, they would have immediately found that Bill Cosby did not appear at the Westbury Music Fair in Westbury, New York, in fall, 1969. This is when Tarshis claimed he attacked her after giving a show there. Even without research, the many journalists who interviewed her should have realized that a women who was 66 years old in 2014, was 21 in 1969, 45 years earlier, not 19 years old as she repeatedly claimed. They would have found many other fantastic and impossible claims in her story if they had critically examined her story. If they had investigated her, they would have found her self-admitted history of mental problems, institutionalization, drug medication, alcoholism, trouble distinguishing reality from fantasy, and making false claims.
Joan Tarshis was the sixth woman to accuse Bill Cosby of possibly drugging her and sexually assaulting her(1) . She says that she was not one of the original 12 Jane Does(2) who was ready to accuse him in the Andrea Constand case in 2005/2006. After Constand in Jan. 2005, four women had accused Cosby of drugging them 20 and 30 years before.. In each case it was a single instance of drugging and sexual or possible sexual assault. The last accuser Barbara Bowman in 2006, added a second charge of throwing her down on a bed, and unbuckling his belt when she met him a second time in his Hotel room at an Atlantic City hotel. She claimed she hadn’t realized she had been drugged and assaulted the first time . She said this in an interview in Philadelphia Magazine. Nobody after these five women had accused Cosby of anything between 2006 and 2014.
On Oct 17, 2014, Philadelphia Magazine, almost nine years after they had published the Bowman interview, posted a video of unknown black comedian Hannibal Buress calling Bill Cosby a rapist in a comedy routine. It was a fact he said he learned from Google(3). On November 13, the Washington Post published an editorial(4) by 2006 accuser Barbara Bowman asking why it took 30 years for people to believe her.
Three days after the Post editorial, Hollywood Elsewhere published an email(5) sent by Joan Tarshis. She accused Bill Cosby of two druggings and assaults in the Fall of 1969. She was the first person to accuse Cosby of forcing oral sex on her. She repeated these accusations in a published interview in Philadelphia Magazine(6) on November 17 ,an interview on CNN(7), the Daily Mail(8), Inside Edition(9) and in People magazine(10).
Here is the main part of her story written by herself in her original Email to Hollywood Elsewhere:
“I was 19 years old in autumn of 1969. I had flown to Los Angeles from New York to work on a monologue with Godfrey Cambridge. Two women I was staying with were friends of Bill Cosby, and they took me to have lunch with him in his cottage at Universal Studios, where he was shooting The Bill Cosby Show. He was always generous with his food and drinks, though he never drank alcohol. But he always topped my Bloody Mary’s with beer, which he called a ‘redeye.’
“Cosby seemed to take a liking to me, and so I was invited back a few times. I was naturally flattered. I visited the set on my own and he once introduced me to Sidney Poitier as ‘Midget,’ his pet name for me because I was 5’3″.
“One day he asked me to stay after the shooting and work on some material with him. I was even more flattered and thought this would help move my writing career along. In his bungalow he made me a redeye, and I began to tell him about the earthquake Los Angeles had just had and the sound it made. He liked my ideas for an earthquake bit.
“The next thing I remember was coming to on his couch while being undressed. Through the haze I thought I was being clever when I told him I had an infection and he would catch it and his wife would know he had sex with someone. But he just found another orifice to use. I was sickened by what was happening to me and shocked that this man I had idolized was now raping me. Of course I told no one.
“Back home with my parents, my mother kept bringing his name up as a source of pride. Cosby was very hot then with his first sitcom, The Bill Cosby Show, and she was proud that her daughter had written with him. So the day that he called, she answered the phone and he told her he was inviting me to The Westbury Music Theater. I was repulsed by the thought of seeing him again, but I saw no way out. I couldn’t tell my mother what he had done. Or what I had let happen, feeling the guilt that rape victims often feel.
“He sent a limo to pick me up and I was dropped off at the Sherry Netherland Hotel and went up to his suite. I remember noticing that his leather shaving kit was filled with bottles of pills, and thinking that this seemed odd. He was, of course, very friendly and I, of course, was very uncomfortable. He made me a redeye, and I, being nervous and dealing at the time with an alcohol problem (I’ve been in recovery since 1988), drank it. In the car I had something else to drink, but was already beginning to feel a bit stoned.
“When we got to Westbury and he went on, there was no seat for me. I stood in the back of the theater with his chauffeur, feeling insulted that I wasn’t respected enough to be given a reserved seat. But soon after, I remember feeling very, very stoned and asking his chauffeur to take me back to the car. I was having trouble standing up. The next thing I remember was waking up in his bed back at the Sherry, naked. I remember thinking ‘You old shit, I guess you got me this time, but it’s the last time you’ll ever see me.’
Ms. Tarshis is very specific about the date. She says it happened in the “fall of 1969.” She talks about “Cosby was very hot then with his first sitcom, ‘The Bill Cosby Show’.” This show only premiered on “Sept. 14, 1969(11). If Tarshis says he was hot from the show, it must have been after Sept. 14 when the show first aired.
In checking multiple sources, including Newsday, the New York Times, the Long Islander, N.Y. Magazine and the Village Voice, I found that Bill Cosby did not appear at the Westbury Music Festival in the fall of 1969.
He only appeared at the Westbury Music Fair for three days that year, May 30th, May 31st, and June 1st(12).
This basically destroys the credibility of Tarshis’ whole story. If Bill Cosby did not play at the Westbury Music Fair in fall 1969, she could not have been taken there and drugged. If she met Bill Cosby at the Westbury Music Fair on May 30th, 31st or June 1st, 1969, she could not have met him for the first time in California in the fall of 1969, several months afterwards.
We cannot simply reverse the order of the two meetings, the first at the Westbury Music Fair in the spring and the second(14) in California at “the Bill Cosby Show” set in the fall of 1969. Tarshis recollects that Cosby called Tarshis’ mother at her house and sent a limo to pick her up. She says that she was afraid to go because he had already raped her in California. This becomes senseless if she had not already met Cosby in California.
In a People Magazine interview, Tarshis places the time he was at the Music Fair about a month after she was on the Bill Cosby Show set shooting with him. The Nov. 19, 2014 article says, “Tarshis went home to her parents in Brooklyn, where Cosby called her about a month later, she says.”
The only possibility to save Tarshis’ story is to assume she mistook the spring for the fall and she met Cosby in April or early May, 1969 in California and saw him a second time at his May 30-June 1 Westbury appearance.
One bit of evidence supports this scenario. She claims there was an Earthquake or tremor when she arrived in L.A. There was only one large tremor felt in L.A. that year and it was April 28th(15). However it was only felt for several seconds as a rolling motion. She says, “I began to tell him about the Earthquake that Los Angeles had just had and the sound it made.” This would put the telling of the story around the first week of May. This would be about a month before Cosby’s appearance at the Westbury Music Fair that year.
There are however four major problems with this a number of major problems with this alternate scenario. This conflicts with time elements in her story with the activities Godfrey Cambridge, Sidney Poitier, the filming of the “Bill Cosby Show,” and Tarshis’ own resume describing when she became a writer.
The first major problem with a fall timeline, is that she says that Godfrey Cambridge flew her out from New York to California just before she met Cosby. Cambridge was mainly in New York and Chicago for at least three months before June 1st. He appeared on many New York talk shows and one Chicago show and started filming Cotton Comes to Harlem in New York in early May, 1969(16).
It makes no sense for Cambridge to fly 21 year old Tarshis out to California to work on a monologue, if he is in New York City and Chicago all this time.
To be honest, I could not find the whereabouts of Cambridge between April 21, 1969 when he gave out a Tony Award in N.Y.C. to May 11 when he was at a benefit for the Free Southern Theater in N.Y.C. (Coincidentally, Bill Cosby was also at that benefit). Given 10-12 hour travel times in 1969 between N.Y.C. and Los Angeles, he could conceivably have been in L.A. some time during the 18 days from April 22nd to May 10th. However, I could not find any evidence that he was actually in L.A. during this time. It is much more likely that he stayed in New York and prepared to start filming Cotton Comes to Harlem. It was an important film for him. His friend, Ossie Davis was directing his first film, and it was set to be part of a six picture deal with producer Sam Goldwyn Jr., based on detective novels from Chester Himes. A May 14, 1969 article said that filming had already started and Cambridge had already been out in police squad cars in Harlem before the movie started(17).
Cambridge was filming “the Watermelon Man”in the fall of 1969 when Tarshis claims he flew her out to L.A. to write monologues for him. This appears to be the only monologue he performed from September 1969 to the end of the year. It was broadcast live on Nov. 29, 1969. Except for perhaps the first two jokes, there is no new material that he hadn’t done before.
The second major problem with a spring timeline, is her claim that she met Sidney Poitier on the set of Cosby’s show. Poitier lived in the Bahamas. A trip to L.A. would have brought big publicity in L.A. and Cosby would have loved the publicity for his new show. There is nothing about Poitier being in L.A. or visiting Cosby in early May. There was only one reported meeting between Cosby and Poitier that year. It was in a New York nightclub named Nepentha. It was reported June 5th, so it was around the time Cosby was in New York playing at the Westbury Music Fair (May 30-June 1)(18).
A third problem for a fall Music Hall encounter is Tarshis has said that Cosby was filming his show at the time she met him, but Cosby was not yet shooting his show in early May. On April 20th, there was an announcement that the new show would be shot at Warner Brothers Studios(19). On the same day, Bill Cosby’s first son, his third child, was born. On April 27th, it was announced that the character that Cosby would play was not going to be a high school teacher/private eye, but only a high school teacher(20). It is unlikely the show could have been shooting before the occupation of Cosby’s character was set. On May 6, 1969, it was announced that Lee Weaver and Sid McCoy had been signed to co-star(21). It is clear that at this point, filming of the show had not yet begun. Only on May 25th was there an article in a newspaper talking about the series now starting to be filmed(22). However, this article describes a scene being shot at the Mother Cabrini Academy Gym in Burbank. When watching the episodes, it appears that the episodes that were broadcast first and third were shot entirely on location. It seems likely that these episodes were shot first in May, 1969 before Cosby was using Warner Brothers studios, Shooting at Warner Brothers almost certainly started in June, after Cosby returned from the Westbury Music Fair engagement in New York.
A fourth problem for the spring alternative timeline or even the original fall timeline is Tarshis’ posted resume at mediabistro.com(23). Although the resume is undated, she lists having an IPhone. Since IPhones first came out in summer, 2007, the resume must be post that date. She writes, “I have worn many hats as a journalist, photographer, biographer, editor, copywriter and publicist – on staff and freelance.” She does not mention writing monologues for Godfrey Cambridge and Bill Cosby. She also states that she has been a writer for 30 years, which means she would have started writing in 1977. This means that for eight years after allegedly writing monologues for Cambridge an Cosby, she wrote nothing. However, the earliest reference to a writing of hers that I could find online was a 1992 Playgirl Magazine article entitled “All the Right Moves: Aggressive, assertive, go-get-‘em broads are scaring the pants off some men—but isn’t that the idea?(24)” She did not reveal her alleged assault by Cosby until 2014, so she could have used the monologues on her resume, or at least the ones she claims now she wrote for Cambridge.
Incidentally, her resume states “I was attending Hunter College and on the way to earning my BA when I was hired as a copywriter. But I will earn my Master’s from SUNY.” She does not state in what subject she was earning her BA or which subject she will earn her Master’s degree in. The field that you studied in college in basic information for any resume. It seems that this is Tarshis’ way of hiding that she does not have a BA degree. According to a November 2014 article on her, in a Woodstock newspaper(25), “She said she now is retired and studying computer science at SUNY Ulster County Community College.” Given that she does not have a background in science and she went to the high school of Performing Arts in N.Y., it is hard to believe that she is starting at 66 the completely different field of computer science.
Fantastic Childish Nature of the Story
We should consider the fantastic nature of all the things that Tarshis relates. In 1965, Time Magazine(26) called Godfrey Cambridge one of the country’s four most celebrated Negro Comedians.” It seems quite fantastic that a 21 year old white woman, with a serious alcohol problem, as she admits she had, living with her parents would so impress one of the four top black comedians in the country that he would fly her to California to write a monologue, especially since he was going to be in New York filming a movie for the next few months. If we assume the impossible fall timeline, it is true that Cambridge was in California, but he filming the Watermelon Man at the time, and his only comedy appearance was on the Hollywood Palace on November 29th(27). He did four and a half minutes of old routines with only possibly one or two new quips thrown in. Cambridge had no need for anybody to write a new monologue for him and he did not use any.
By amazing coincidence, she just happens to be staying in California with two girls who are good friends with another of the top four most celebrated Negro Comedians in America. They are such good friends that apparently they have lunch with him every day. Cosby who could have had lunch with any A list star in Hollywood preferred to have lunch with two unknown roommates. Tarshis just happens to be staying with these roommates. She does not even bother to give their names, or explain how she came to stay with these roommates. They are just anonymous roommates. Cosby was one of the hottest and busiest stars in America at this time and hundreds of agents, ad executives, actors and actresses, singers, reporters and deal-makers had to struggle to schedule appointments for five minutes of time with him, but Tarshis without any effort gets to have lunch with him at least three or four times in a short period. People were paying Cosby $10,000 a night to sit in an audience with a two thousand other people and listen to Bill Cosby speak for two hours. Tarshis gets to talk with him practically alone over lunch, apparently four or five times in the space of a week. As if this was not incredible enough, for good measure, Tarshis says that Cosby introduced her as “Midget” to Sidney Poitier, the leading black actor in America in 1969. Poitier was a movie actor who did no television, Cosby was a television actor who had done no movies at this point in his career. They lived in two different worlds. Poitier lived in the Bahamas. Yet, magically Tarshis has Poitier suddenly appear during one of the four or five lunch hours that she alleges she spent with him. She says Cosby introduced her as “Midget.” Introducing her as “Midget” is just bizarre. She is 5’3″ and he is 6’0″ tall. The height of the average woman around 1969 was around 5’3″, so Tarshis was not even short, let alone a midget in any sense.
Perhaps Cosby was trying to impress Poitier that he knew the famous Joan Tarshis so well and were such good friends that he had a nickname for her, and that is why he introduced her as “Midget” to Poitier. Poitier formed his own movie company with Paul Newman and Barbara Streisand that year.
Somehow this unemployed 21 year old, white woman, with an alcohol problem, living with her parents in New York City who apparently has not attended any college at this time, gets hired by one of the four most honored black comedians in the country and after, he flies her out to California, within a week or two, she coincidentally gets to meet both the leading black television actor and the leading black movie actor in the country.
Tarshis’ Psychological Problems
We have seen that when facts in Tarshis’ story is checked, the story proves false: 1) Cosby did not play the Westbury Music Fair in the Fall of 1969 as she claims. 2) Godfrey Cambridge does not appear to have been in Los Angeles when Tarshis claims he flew her out to write a monologue. 3) Cosby was not filming his television series one month before he appeared at the Westbury Music Fair as she claims.
However, even if the factual details of her story did check out, the fantastic nature of an unemployed 19 year old white girl, living with her parents, and struggling with an alcohol problem, suddenly casually meeting perhaps the three leading black actors in America and being raped by one of them, should make us seriously doubt her story. The fact that she has also has a history of psychological problems is certainly a relevant factor in understanding why she would get on national television and tell this tale.
CNN Interview 9/17/2014
In the article, Tarshis admits that when she met Cosby she was “dealing at the time with an alcohol problem (I’ve been in recovery since 1988)”. That would be at least a 20 year drinking problem. While admitting this, Tarshis hid the important fact that she has also struggled with mental illness as well, as alcoholism. However, neither “Inside Edition” “CNN” “People” or other newsmedia reported the extremely important fact that Ms.Tarshis had been in mental hospitals and has had mental delusions over a number of years. These delusions include believing that she talked with aliens and talked with God in a lightbulb. They also did not reveal the fact that she had been frequently medicated with psychotropic drugs. Ms. Tarshis publicly revealed this on her Facebook page in 2013. That was over a year before she made her terrible charges against Dr. Cosby.
Tarshis Proves How Racist the Mass Media is in America
Why did nobody from the mass newsmedia in America reveal this or think that it was relevant before spreading Tarshis’ story to hundreds of millions of people? They might respond that with the pressure for ratings, they had no time to check. It wasn’t their fault, but the 24 hour news cycle that causes them to make terrible mistakes like this. This is plausible, but only explains errors in general and not the specific errors in this case. In my opinion, the answer is that the people who own and manage the mass newsmedia in the United States are racist and wanted to believe that a famous black man was secretly a rapist. The fact that they did not do any kind of investigation of Tarshis or her story is strong evidence of their racism. It should not be passed over or forgotten or forgiven. It is a serious crime against an innocent man, an innocent group of people and all people.
From Joan Tarshis’s Facebook website 5/8/13
In the video, Ms. Tarshis refers to a manic-depressive episode involving Anne Murray winning a Grammy Award. She won Grammy awards in 1974, 1978, 1980, and 1983(28). This suggests that at least one her manic-depressive episodes happened between 1974 and 1983.
Tarshis also states on her facebook page that she suffered a serous brain trauma in 2013.
Tarshis made fun of her own mental state when she published this rather witty cartoon:
At least a half dozen checkable facts in Joan Tarshis’ Demon Cosby tale are false, extremely unlikely or impossible, from Tarshis’ age (21, not 19) to Cosby’s performing in the fall of 1969 at the Westbury Music Fair. The whole story is fantastic. Given her self proclaimed history of alcoholism and mental instability, there is no reason to believe that any part of the story is true or that she ever met Bill Cosby.
(1) http://www.phillymag.com/news/2014/11/17/bill-cosby-rape-sexual-assault-joan-tarshis/. Philadelphia Magazine says in an interview with her, “Tarshis is the fifth woman to publicly accuse Cosby of sexual assault” In fact, Andrea Constand, Tamara Green, Shawn Brown and Beth Ferrier accused him, in 2005, and Barbara Bowman accused him in 2006. They might have left out Shawn Brown because her daughter, Autumn Jackson, was arrested for trying to extort $40,000,000 from Bill Cosby in 1998.
(12)Here is a list of all the acts that did appear at the Westbury Music Hall in the Fall of 1969
Sept. 23 – Oct 5 – Jan Peerce in an Israeli Salute, Oct. 7-12, Jimmy Roselli and Corbette Monica, Oct. 18, Chambers Brothers, Oct 19, Gary Puckett and the Union Gap, Oct. 20, Jewish National Fund, Oct. 21-26, Liberace, Nov. 2, The Association, Nov. 6-10, Steve Lawrence and Edie Gormet, Nov 11-23, Caberet with Judy Carne Nov. 26, Four Seasons with Frankie Vallie, Nov. 28-30, Ray Charles, Dec. 26-Dec. 31, Ann Coria: This was Burlesque.
There were no other advertisements or reviews listing Cosby or any other shows.
(13)Newsday, April 16, 1969, May 20, 1969
(15)http://archives.chicagotribune.com/1969/04/29/page/1/article/s-california-hit-by-light-earthquake, also N.Y. Times, April 29, 1969, pg. 19. “Quake Felt in California”
(16)Here is a list of Cambridge’s appearances around this time. the television show listings are from numerous newspapers. All the shows were filmed in New York City:
Feb. 23, Interview in New York Apartment (Boston Herald, pg 199), March 6, Merv Griffin Show, March 7, Steve Allan Show, March 23, Merv Griffin Show, March30, Merv Griffin Show, April 4, Performing in Chicago April 1-3 at Mister Kellys, http://archives.chicagotribune.com/1969/03/31/page/22/article/ticker-tower, Joan Rivers Show, April 9, performing in Chicago (Boston Herald Traveler, April 9, 1969, pg. 43c), April 11, in Chicago on Kup’s Show, April 10, Joan River’s Show, April 21 Tony Awards in N.Y. May 11, Waldorf Astoria, benefit for “Free Southern Theater” with Bill Cosby (N.Y. Times, May 12, pg. 58), He started shooting the film “Cotton Comes to Harlem” in New York around this time. Register-Republic (Rockford, IL) Page: 52, on May 14, has an article saying that Cambridge was riding around with police for a few days for training for the film he had started shooting.
(17)Ibid, Register-Republic (Rockford, IL), May 14, 1969, pg. 52.
(18)Dallas Daily News, June 5, 1969, pg. 25, et al. The same article also mentions Godfrey Cambridge being at another New York nightclub.
(19)Greenboro Daily News April 20, 1969, pg. 42, et al.
(20)Greenboro Daily News, April 27, 1969, pg. 80, et al.
(21)Evening Star, Washington D.C., May 6, 1969, pg. 33, et al.
(22)San Diego Union, May 25th, pg. 154
(24)Playgirl Magazine, August, 1992, Volume 20, issue #3.
(27)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KojyA9evNak Cambridge comes on around 45 minutes.