Phylicia Rashad's Mother Reign

The Cosby Show's matriarch influence on TV Moms

Theatrical Arts Awards - We salute this year's Theatrical Arts honoree Phylicia Rashad.

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Theatrical Arts Awards - We salute this year's Theatrical Arts honoree Phylicia Rashad.

Phylicia Rashad: BET Honoree & Number One Mom - Phylicia Rashad has enjoyed a lengthy, successful career of over four decades. The big sister of Debbie Allen has dazzled the Broadway stage, conquered the silver screen and made a groundbreaking impact on the small screen. Because of her amazing accomplishments, Rashad is one of this year's esteemed honorees at the 2015 BET Honors.  Phylicia's trailblazing role of Clair Huxtable on The Cosby Show inspired a new generation of performers to dream bigger when portraying TV moms. Here's a peek at the actresses who've followed in her original and very outspoken footsteps.(Photo: NBCU Photo Bank)

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Phylicia Rashad: BET Honoree & Number One Mom - Phylicia Rashad has enjoyed a lengthy, successful career of over four decades. The big sister of Debbie Allen has dazzled the Broadway stage, conquered the silver screen and made a groundbreaking impact on the small screen. Because of her amazing accomplishments, Rashad is one of this year's esteemed honorees at the 2015 BET Honors. Phylicia's trailblazing role of Clair Huxtable on The Cosby Show inspired a new generation of performers to dream bigger when portraying TV moms. Here's a peek at the actresses who've followed in her original and very outspoken footsteps.(Photo: NBCU Photo Bank)

Janet Hubert - As Vivian Banks, the aunt of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air's Will Smith, actress Janet Hubert brought, elegance, style and know-it-all sass to her role as mom of the Banks clan. Like Rashad before her, Hubert proved that upper middle class Black moms could have and do it all; juggle a family, successful career and enjoy a loving relationship with her professional husband.  (Photo: Chris Cuffaio/NBCU Photo Bank)

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Janet Hubert - As Vivian Banks, the aunt of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air's Will Smith, actress Janet Hubert brought, elegance, style and know-it-all sass to her role as mom of the Banks clan. Like Rashad before her, Hubert proved that upper middle class Black moms could have and do it all; juggle a family, successful career and enjoy a loving relationship with her professional husband. (Photo: Chris Cuffaio/NBCU Photo Bank)

Sheryl Lee Ralph - Sheryl Lee Ralph starred as Dee Mitchell on the Brandy vehicle Moesha, and proved that motherhood could take many dramedy turns. As stepmother to Moesha, viewers watched as their relationship shifted from rocky to harmonious. In the tradition of Claire Huxtable, Dee navigated and disarmed all detractors with huge amounts of class, grace and a slicing sharp wit. (Photo: UPN/Landov)

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Sheryl Lee Ralph - Sheryl Lee Ralph starred as Dee Mitchell on the Brandy vehicle Moesha, and proved that motherhood could take many dramedy turns. As stepmother to Moesha, viewers watched as their relationship shifted from rocky to harmonious. In the tradition of Claire Huxtable, Dee navigated and disarmed all detractors with huge amounts of class, grace and a slicing sharp wit. (Photo: UPN/Landov)

JoMarie Payton Noble - Family Matters' Harriette Winslow, portrayed by JoMarie Payton Noble, was hardworking and working class all the way. But her slick, perceptive mother's intution is what she shared most in common with Phylicia Rashad's depcition of TV motherhood. Neither Harriette's children nor next door neighbor Steve Urkel could ever get anything over on her. But, it was sure fun watching them try. (Photo: CBS/Landov)

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JoMarie Payton Noble - Family Matters' Harriette Winslow, portrayed by JoMarie Payton Noble, was hardworking and working class all the way. But her slick, perceptive mother's intution is what she shared most in common with Phylicia Rashad's depcition of TV motherhood. Neither Harriette's children nor next door neighbor Steve Urkel could ever get anything over on her. But, it was sure fun watching them try. (Photo: CBS/Landov)

Jacke? Harry - Phylicia Rashad's Claire Huxtable was a firm disciplinarian but extended her outreach of momhood to include being a good friend, advisor and confidant to her Cosby kids. That idea wasn't lost on comedic queen Jack?e Harry, who got the opportunity to mother twins separately on Sister, Sister. As Lisa Landry, Harry proved that sometimes the best parenting for a daughter came in the form of the most reliable and helpful BFF.  (Photo: John D. Kisch/Separate Cinema Archive/Getty Images)

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Jackeé Harry - Phylicia Rashad's Claire Huxtable was a firm disciplinarian but extended her outreach of momhood to include being a good friend, advisor and confidant to her Cosby kids. That idea wasn't lost on comedic queen Jackée Harry, who got the opportunity to mother twins separately on Sister, Sister. As Lisa Landry, Harry proved that sometimes the best parenting for a daughter came in the form of the most reliable and helpful BFF. (Photo: John D. Kisch/Separate Cinema Archive/Getty Images)

Diahann Carroll and Patti LaBelle - The polar opposite moms of A Different World's supercouple Whitley and Dwayne Wayne, Marion Gilbert (Diahann Carroll) and Adele Wayne (Patti LaBelle) gave us the some of the series' funniest comedic moments. But each of them possessed little a Claire Huxatable magic. Carroll served up prim and proper, upper crust high-end TLC out of a champagne flute. While LaBelle's down home, no-nonsense and good cooking love always gave audiences a big comforting hug through the TV.  (Photos from left: Harry Langdon/Getty Images, Ian Dickson/Redferns)

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Diahann Carroll and Patti LaBelle - The polar opposite moms of A Different World's supercouple Whitley and Dwayne Wayne, Marion Gilbert (Diahann Carroll) and Adele Wayne (Patti LaBelle) gave us the some of the series' funniest comedic moments. But each of them possessed little a Claire Huxatable magic. Carroll served up prim and proper, upper crust high-end TLC out of a champagne flute. While LaBelle's down home, no-nonsense and good cooking love always gave audiences a big comforting hug through the TV. (Photos from left: Harry Langdon/Getty Images, Ian Dickson/Redferns)

Thea Vidale - Comedian Thea Vidale starred in her short-lived self-titled sitcom which showcased and highlighted the highs and lows of single parentdom. Like The Cosby Show did before it with its discovery of child star turned mogul Rav?n-Symone, Thea's claim to ultimate fame was that it featured and starred a then unknown Brandy Norwood, who would go on to blaze a an award-winning career in TV and music.  (Photo: E.J. Camp/Corbis)

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Thea Vidale - Comedian Thea Vidale starred in her short-lived self-titled sitcom which showcased and highlighted the highs and lows of single parentdom. Like The Cosby Show did before it with its discovery of child star turned mogul Ravén-Symone, Thea's claim to ultimate fame was that it featured and starred a then unknown Brandy Norwood, who would go on to blaze a an award-winning career in TV and music. (Photo: E.J. Camp/Corbis)

Tichina Arnold - Tichina Arnold's Rochelle on the critically acclaimed sitcom Everybody Hates Chris, could be sweet one moment and hard as a rock the next. Whatever Rochelle felt could be read completely in her face; in the pursing of her lips or narrowing of her eyes. And that's what she shares most with her Claire Huxtable predecessor; that fierce and severe "momma's look!"  (Photo: The CW/Jaimie Trueblood/Landov)

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Tichina Arnold - Tichina Arnold's Rochelle on the critically acclaimed sitcom Everybody Hates Chris, could be sweet one moment and hard as a rock the next. Whatever Rochelle felt could be read completely in her face; in the pursing of her lips or narrowing of her eyes. And that's what she shares most with her Claire Huxtable predecessor; that fierce and severe "momma's look!" (Photo: The CW/Jaimie Trueblood/Landov)

Jodi Long - Along with series star and comedian Margaret Cho, actress Jodi Long helped to trailblaze new ground in their depiction of Asian-American life in the sitcom All-American Girl. The first series of its kind, Long's presence as matriarch Katherine Kim, intimately introduced American audiences to Asian life beyond stereotypes. And that was exactly the point of Rashad's depiction of Claire Huxtable and The Cosby Show years before it. (Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

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Jodi Long - Along with series star and comedian Margaret Cho, actress Jodi Long helped to trailblaze new ground in their depiction of Asian-American life in the sitcom All-American Girl. The first series of its kind, Long's presence as matriarch Katherine Kim, intimately introduced American audiences to Asian life beyond stereotypes. And that was exactly the point of Rashad's depiction of Claire Huxtable and The Cosby Show years before it. (Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Tisha Campbell-Martin - Just because you're a mom, it doesn't mean you should be afraid to try new things. And no mom personified that better than My Wife and Kids' Janet "Jay" Kyle, portrayed by Tisha Campbell-Martin. For five seasons, Campbell-Martin championed the adventurous spirit of Rashad before her, by showing viewers moms could reinvent the rules week after week by hilariously breaking them. (Photo: lc/Laura Cavanaugh UPI /Landov)

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Tisha Campbell-Martin - Just because you're a mom, it doesn't mean you should be afraid to try new things. And no mom personified that better than My Wife and Kids' Janet "Jay" Kyle, portrayed by Tisha Campbell-Martin. For five seasons, Campbell-Martin championed the adventurous spirit of Rashad before her, by showing viewers moms could reinvent the rules week after week by hilariously breaking them. (Photo: lc/Laura Cavanaugh UPI /Landov)