HE WAS on our screens constantly during the ’80s and ’90s, but these days, former Cosby Show star Geoffrey Owens has a very different career.
The 57-year-old, who played Sondra Huxtable’s husband Elvin Tibideaux in the hit sitcom, was recently spotted by shopper Karma Lawrence working at a New Jersey branch of the US grocery chain Trader Joe’s.
The woman was so surprised by her discovery she snapped a photo of the startled-looking actor wearing a Trader Joe’s uniform complete with a name-tag which read “Geoffrey”.
Ms Lawrence told the Daily Mail she was surprised to see the former star working at the store, where staff are believed to earn around $US11 ($A15) an hour.
“I used to watch The Cosby Show all the time — it was my favourite show. It was definitely him,” Ms Lawrence told the publication.
“I would have thought after The Cosby Show he would maybe be doing something different.
“It was a shock to see him working there and looking the way he did. It made me feel really bad. I was like, “Wow, all those years of doing the show and you ended up as a cashier.’”
Ms Lawrence’s photos quickly went viral, and news of Mr Owens’ “$11-an-hour supermarket job” quickly made headlines across the globe.
However, the photos have also sparked significant outrage, with many claiming the actor, who has also appeared on It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia and That’s So Raven, was being publicly “shamed” for taking on a second job to pay the bills.
— Barkin Moon (@BarkinMoon)
And soon, a slew of well-known celebrities as well as social media users took to Twitter to defend the father-of-one and his new role.
Many high-profile names shared similar stories of working in unusual jobs after their show business careers ended, including Harry Potter actor Chris Rankin, who posted on Twitter about a kitchen job he took after the popular movies.
Actor and media commentator Melissa Francis also weighed in, posting on Twitter about the low-wage jobs she had worked in after appearing on TV and in films.
I worked in a Wetherspoons kitchen after being in Harry Potter. I needed a job, no shame in that. And you know what? I really enjoyed it! You do what you need to do and that’s nothing to be ashamed of. https://t.co/1RI8sltHMe— Chris Rankin (@chrisrankin)
.@cvpayne pointed out this story. As a former series regular who also worked for minimum wage AFTER Hollywood I respect the hell out of Owens – every paycheck has dignity no matter the size https://t.co/reLzaHlMRc— Melissa Francis (@MelissaAFrancis)
Those of us who have been in this industry awhile know the determination it takes, through good times and bad. We’ve all been there.
I got nothin’ but love for you, #GeoffreyOwens. An honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work. https://t.co/UUQg6KHdQL— Daniel Dae Kim (@danieldaekim)
Others argued most working actors needed to take on second jobs to pay the bills — and that there was “no shame” in earning an honest living.
In response to the news story about Geoffrey Owens, people have been tweeting supportive messages saying he’s a great Shakespeare actor and teacher. Details about his classes here: https://t.co/0IUgE90OAb pic.twitter.com/jofepEcMCp— Shakespeare Magazine (@UKShakespeare)
Dear people, Geoffrey Owens is doing what all working actors do. He’s supplementing his acting income. There is no shame in that.— Adina Porter (@AdinaPorter)
I don’t know #GeoffreyOwens
I know this –
Almost every successful actor, singer, athlete or celebrity, is one lucky (unlucky) break away from bagging groceries themselves.
Few would admit it.— Donnie Wahlberg (@DonnieWahlberg)
Mr Owens appeared on the show from 1985 to 1992, alongside now-disgraced star Bill Cosby.
He is the son of former United States Congressman Major Robert Owens, and is also a respected theatre actor.