Vanessa Clair Huxtable (born March 8, 1973) is the third daughter of Cliff and Clair. In Season 1, she was eleven years old, making her birth year 1973. As Vanessa grew up, she faced typical teenage problems and heartbreaks, such as wearing make-up before her 15th birthday, in violation of her parents' rules. Unlike her older brother, she was an excellent student and seemed to enjoy school; at the beginning of Season 7, shewent off to college one year early. She became engaged in the final season to Dabnis Brickey, a man in his late twenties. Dabnis was the head of maintenance at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, where Vanessa was enrolled. However, Vanessa realized that she was not ready to get married, and they broke off the engagement. They maintained they were "just friends" by the end of the season. Vanessa is played by actress Tempestt Bledsoe.
In the early seasons, Vanessa is usually considered to be nosy, as she usually—sneakily—tries to find out what goes on in the Huxtable house, especially when it involves someone (usually Theo) in trouble with their parents. But, in a later episode, the tables are turned, as Theo catches Vanessa's friends smoking cigarettes in her room, although Vanessa herself did not take part, and even tried to dissuade her friends from doing so.
She often fought with her younger sister, Rudy, over typical childish issues. At one point, their fighting caused damage to both their bedrooms and the kitchen ceiling, driving Cliff to declare their rooms off limits because of "World War Five" and exile them to the basement until repairs were finished. But, on one occasion, Vanessa got into a physical tussle with Denise over a sweater that Vanessa stole from Denise's closet after Denise did not allow her to borrow it.
One of Vanessa's best friends in high school was a girl named Kara (played by Elizabeth Narvaez), who could ramble on about nothing in particular at high speed. Whenever Cliff was on the receiving end of her babbling, he would always reply with a bewildered "Thank you." The two of them, and two more friends of theirs, hatched a sneaky scheme late in the 6th season to go to a rock concert in Baltimore, but were overwhelmed by all the troubles that befell them...and the parents eventually found out the truth, setting the stage for a hostile homecoming from her mother.
The character is loosely based upon Cosby's daughter, Ensa, who was approximately the same age as Vanessa.