“I finally feel like I have my father.”
Rita Cosby is talking about a big change in her life. She now has “the most amazing, most profound, most deep relationship” with her dad — after decades of “sort of an intermittent relationship” ever since her parents’ divorce when she was nineteen.
Cosby, the former Fox News and MSNBC anchor, details her story in a new book, Quiet Hero: Secrets From My Father’s Past, out today. Writing about her personal life was “strange”, she tells TVNewser, after a professional life spent reporting on others.
But she is proud to tell this tale. “I’ve always wanted to be closer to my father,” explains Cosby, who describes her dad, Richard, as having been distant over the years, “never very good with emotions”.
Cosby never knew why.
The father-daughter relationship began to shift in the fall of 2008. Cosby’s mother had passed away, and as Cosby sorted through her personal effects, she discovered “this old, tan, tattered leather suitcase”. In it was a POW tag, with a prisoner number. And a Polish war armband.
“This was my father’s,” Cosby remembers thinking. She knew her dad had emigrated from Poland after World War II, but the items in the suitcase were a mystery.
“I need to know,” she thought, “what really happened.”
But Cosby’s father had never wanted to discuss his past. It was a “shut-off” that Cosby feels might have been the impetus for her reporting career. “I could ask other people questions about their past — to compensate, maybe, for what I wasn’t able to do at home.”
With her father in his eighties, she seized the moment. She reached out to Richard Cosby to ask about his life as Ryszard Kossobudzki, a teenager during the war.
In a series of visits, her father opened up for the first time. He told of joining the Polish Resistance, and of being captured and held as a prisoner of war.
As their discussions continued, father and daughter grew closer. The two even took a trip together to Poland, Richard’s first since he came to the U.S.
Cosby hopes her story “inspires other people” to build closer ties with family. “It doesn’t matter who reaches out [first]. The bottom line is to have a great relationship in the end.”
Quiet Hero puts Cosby back in the spotlight as an author. It’s her first book since 2007’s controversial Blonde Ambition: The Untold Story Behind Anna Nicole Smith’s Death. Howard K. Stern, Smith’s former attorney and boyfriend, filed a defamation lawsuit in response, which court records show was ‘dismissed with prejudice’ last November.
“The action has been resolved, and we cannot discuss the conclusion further,” Cosby tells TVNewser.
“I stand by my journalism,” she says about Blonde Ambition in general. “And I was very proud of the book.”
As she looks toward the future, Cosby is open to returning to network news full-time. “I’ve had a lot of interesting offers over the past few years,” she says. “I think I will be doing some more full-time work in television after the book tour. It’s so much in my blood.”
Since leaving MSNBC in 2007, Cosby has freelanced in radio and for Inside Edition. As for her trademark raspiness, it’s gone now, the result of a 2006 surgery to remove callus-like growths on her vocal chords.
“And I haven’t had a problem since,” Cosby says. She didn’t want to dramatically alter her voice, just to improve it. “I wanted it to still be me.”
And being “me” means being busy with Quiet Hero. The book is a source of pride, especially when Cosby thinks about what her late mother might have thought of the father-daughter reconciliation.
“I feel that she’s smiling down on me now,” Cosby says, “and is very, very happy.”