Sunni Welles, a TV actor, musician, and performer who later accused Bill Cosby of
sexual assault, died on Monday in Downey, California, after a battle with lung cancer,
her son, Shaun O’Banion, confirmed to Variety. She was 72.
Welles started her acting career at just 10-years-old when she appeared in a sitcom
Leave It to Beaver and My Three Sons.
Sunni Welles was renowned for her friendship with Elvis Presley, which blossomed
when she toured the world as a singer and dancer.
Welles went on to marry fellow singer and actor John O’Banion, and they had a son
before their divorce. She is survived by her son, Shaun O’Banion.
In the late 1990s, she retired from acting and performed as a jazz soloist with her
She then went on to settle down in Santa Monica, California and worked as a
spiritual medium until she was diagnosed with lung cancer.
Back in 2015, Welles joined the mass of women who accused comedian Bill Cosby of
sexual assault, who she met on the set of the TV series I Spy.
She said she was a 17-year-old aspiring singer at the time of her encounter with
Cosby, which took place in the mid-1960s in Hollywood after a visit to a jazz club.
In a statement, she claimed that she ordered a Coke at the club. She added that she
did not remember leaving the club and later woke up in an apartment naked and
alone, feeling as though she had had sex.
“He was a star. He was Bill Cosby and I buried it in my memory until all of these brave
women began to come forward,” said Welles, who sobbed during her statement.