Q: Back in the '70s, Bill Cosby slugged one of the Smothers brothers. Do you know what caused the altercation?
R.M., Fort Worth
A: The battle of the network stars took place in 1976, according to Ronald L. Smith in the 1985 biography Cosby. At a time when people were clamoring for more family programming, Cosby had just premiered Cos, a Sunday prime-time show aimed primarily at children.
The show, unfortunately, was not well-received. "Bring back Lassie,'' Smith quoted one critic as saying. "At least that show admitted that it was a dog.''
As Cos was floundering during its eight-week run, Tommy Smothers said something to Cosby at a Playboy Mansion party. They "were not buddies,'' Smith writes, and after a few words were exchanged Cosby knocked Smothers down with a right to the jaw.
"Later, the swollen-cheeked comic claimed that he was only trying to complement Bill on his new TV show,'' Smith writes. "The last words Tommy heard were, 'You've been asking for it.'''