Fans and fellow actors are rallying behind Geoffrey Owens after photos of the former “The Cosby Show” actor working as a cashier at a Trader Joe’s sparked online mockery.
Owens played Elvin Tibideaux, husband of Sondra Huxtable, on the hit NBC sitcom from 1985 to 1992. He later appeared in “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and “That’s So Raven,” according to IMDB.com.
The Daily Mail published photos of Owens taken by a customer at a Trader Joe’s in New Jersey headlined, “From learning lines to serving the long line!” The photos show Owens ringing up groceries with a name tag reading, “Geoffrey.”
“I was just in Trader Joe’s and I said to my wife, I said, ‘Wait a minute, that’s the guy from The Cosby Show,’ ” shopper Karma Lawrence told the publication. “It made me feel really bad. I was like, ‘Wow, all those years of doing the show and you ended up as a cashier.’ ”
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Fox News also ran a story on Lawrence’s photos of Owens, quoting the Daily Mail story. The stories prompted some online jokes.
“Cliff warned him not to leave medical school and start that wilderness supply store,” wrote one person on Twitter, referring to a story line from “The Cosby Show.”
“Cosby was proven right...elvin was not good enough to date his daughter... props to #geoffreyowens,” read another Twitter post.
The mockery — and Daily Mail and Fox News stories — sparked an outpouring of support for Owens from fans and fellow actors. Many took exception to the publication of the photos, accusing the Daily Mail and Fox News of trying to humiliate Owens.
“Good for him,” wrote actor James Woods on Twitter. “Now maybe some casting director will take note of a fine man who swallows his pride and is willing to work.”
“The people taking his picture and passing judgment are trash,” wrote “Family Ties” actor Justine Bateman on Twitter.
“I hate stories like this,” wrote NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch on Twitter. “He’s a man working hard, there’s shame in publishing this story but not in this man’s job.”
“This is so gross,” wrote actor and producer Emerson Collins on Twitter. “Acting as a business is brutal, and the vast majority of actors have other jobs. Get your damn groceries and shut up.”
“When I worked on ‘Thirtysomething’ I was also summarizing depositions to pay my rent,” wrote actor Patricia Heaton on Twitter. “Why are you trying to humiliate this honorable, hardworking actor? Shame on you!”
“Geoffrey Owen is a fantastic, hilarious actor,” wrote producer and director Judd Apatow on Twitter.
“He’s working and there is pride in every job!” wrote Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham on Twitter. “Good for him!”
“I am going to write a part for Geoffrey Owens,” wrote producer and actor Jaime Primak on Twitter. “I’m going to turn his humiliation into opportunity.”
Others also pointed out that Owens continues to work as an actor and teaches Shakespeare to children.
Fans also spoke out in support of Owens.
“There’s no journalistic merit in this,” wrote one fan on Twitter. “Its only purpose is to publicly humiliate a man who’s doing the best he can under the circumstances.”
“Can we stop taking pictures of former TV/movie stars in normal human lives long after they’ve been in the media?” wrote another person on Twitter.