Sunni Welles, a former actor and singer who was among the women who accused Bill Cosby of sexual assault, has died, her son Shaun O’Banion announced on Twitter today. She was 72.
Welles died Monday after a battle with lung cancer at a hospice care center in Downey, CA, O’Banion told Deadline in a statement.
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Welles’ acting career began when she was a child at age 10, appearing in episodes of such popular shows as Leave It to Beaver and My Three Sons.
She alleged at a 2015 news conference that Cosby raped her twice when she was an aspiring singer in the mid-1960s by drugging her drink. She said Cosby invited her to a jazz club after she ran into him on the set of I Spy. Welles said the first time he attacked her, she was drinking Champagne; after the second time, she never saw him again. It really affected my trust,” Welles said. “My mother didn’t believe me initially, either. You’ve been hurt to a level that a lot of people don’t really understand. Still, to this day.”
Cosby was released from prison in June after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned his 2018 sexual assault conviction, finding fault with the way prosecutors pursued a case against him after earlier declining to file charges.
In 1979, Welles moved to Nevada to perform as a principal dancer with the Folies Bergère musical variety show in Las Vegas. She also appeared in the television series Quincy, M.E. and Trapper John, M.D. as well as the Steven Spielberg film 1941. She later retired from acting to perform as a jazz soloist with her band Shiver, which toured in California in the late ’90s.
Her credits also include the 2004 short film Lift, written and directed by O’Banion.
It is with profound sadness that I announce that my mother, Sunni Kay Welles, passed away today at the age of 72. If you have a moment, give a listen and think of her. She was an extraordinary woman. https://t.co/IFpRR5JO32
— 𝙸𝙽𝚃. 𝚁𝙰𝚅𝙴𝙽𝚆𝙾𝙾𝙳 𝙵𝙸𝙻𝙼𝚂 – 𝙽𝙸𝙶𝙷𝚃 (@shaun_obanion) August 10, 2021
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