Sunni Welles, an actor and singer who also accused Bill Cosby of sexual assault, has died at the age of 72. On Tuesday, Welles' son Shaun O'Banion announced her death in a post on Twitter. Deadline later reported that Welles passed away on Monday, following a battle with lung cancer. She was in the care of a hospice center in Downey, California when she died.
Welles got her start in show business as a child, appearing in episodes of shows such as My Three Sons and Leave it to Beaver when she was as young as 10 years old. She would later go on to appear in other shows like Quincy, M.E. and Trapper John, M.D. as well as 1941, a film directed by Steven Spielberg. Welles moved to Las Vegas, Nevada in 1979 and began working as a principal dancer with the Folies Bergère musical variety show. She eventually retired from acting and dedicated her time to performing music with her jazz band, Shiver.
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
Many of O'Banion's followers have sent him supportive statements in the wake of his mother's death, with one writing, "So sorry Shaun. What a magical, wonderful voice. Be kind to yourself." Another person added, "She was a beautiful human being and a courageous woman. So sorry she is gone."
In 2015, Welles came forward as one of dozens of women who accused comedian Bill Cosby of sexual assault. Welles alleged that she met Cosby on the set of his film I Spy and he invited her to a jazz club. She stated that she had been drinking champagne the first time he assaulted her, and then after a second attack, she did not see him again. "It really affected my trust," Welles said during a press conference. "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."