Anyone who grew up in the 1970's and 1980's will remember Bill Cosby's iconic show "Fat Albert," which ran from 1972-1985. It was funny, engaging, and educational in a way that did not feel stilted. In fact, when Cosby's animated show was seeking a spot on Saturday mornings (back in those days cartoons were only shown once a week), it was originally turned down by the NBC network for being "too educational." CBS did not have a problem with the wholesomeness of a series that taught children, even on the weekend, and so, "Fat Albert" found a home in that arena.

Bill Cosby brought special needs into the spotlight

In the early 1970's when "Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids" first debuted, obesity was not the issue it is today, especially in children. The show was based on Cosby's childhood in the poverty-stricken housing projects of North Philadelphia. The characters were based on his real-life friends and his little brother, Russell.

Fat Albert was not the only character to deal with problems that most people didn't want to talk about. Mushmouth had a speech impediment. Dumb Donald's intelligence was less-than-stellar. Old Weird Harold's clumsiness was like an accident waiting to happen. Bill Cosby brought to light so many issues that children face on a daily basis that result in teasing, bullying, and name-calling.

He put a positive spin on it, though, teaching kids that we are not defined by our weaknesses.

In an interview with The New York Times' Arts Beat in 2013, Cosby spoke about the creation of the Fat Albert character. "Overweight people, back in the 20s, 30s, and 40s, on the Broadway stages and in movies, they immediately became the funny person, the clown.

The person you could make fun of, the person who made fun of himself. But these characters were invented because I wanted to change, break the stereotypes. I changed Albert, making him the leader and giving him the intelligence."

Bill Cosby's compassion for kids ruled the show

Though tall and extremely large, Albert was a gentle giant and a voice of reason in a scary situation -- someone to be counted on.

"We did bullying," Bill Cosby told Arts Beat, speaking of some of the life lessons addressed on the program. "We did the little guy who's not accepted because he's little. We did the Jewish kid who can't play on Saturday. We did the little girl who won't talk because she's been abused."

These lessons continue to be pertinent to children, even today.