Bill Cosby

Actor / Comedian

Born: 12 July 1937
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Best known as: Star of the hit 1980s sitcom The Cosby Show

Name at birth: William Henry Cosby, Jr.

Bill Cosby began his career as a stand-up comic and ended up as one of America's most beloved television stars. Bill Cosby begand doing stand-up in the early 1960s while attending Temple University, and his comedy career was kick-started by a 1963 appearance on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show. His first comedy album was Bill Cosby Is a Very Funny Fellow... Right! in 1964, and Cosby won multiple Grammy Awards for comedy recordings throughout the 1960s. He was particularly known for routines about childhood friends like Fat Albert and Old Weird Harold (both of whom later appeared in the 1970s cartoon series Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids). Bill Cosby starred with Robert Culp in the spoofy TV series I Spy from 1965-68, winning three Emmy Awards and becoming one of the few African-American stars on primetime TV. Cosby appeared in many other TV shows (including the PBS educational show The Electric Company) and in movies including Uptown Saturday Night (1974, with Sidney Poitier) and Mother, Juggs and Speed (1976, with Raquel Welch). From 1984-92, Bill Cosby dominated primetime television with The Cosby Show, a family comedy in which he and Phylicia Rashad starred as Cliff and Claire Huxtable. The show was a huge hit and, along with the 1986 book Fatherhood, re-established Bill Cosby as a leading comedian. From 1996-2000 he starred in a similar sitcom, Cosby, again with Rashad playing his wife. He is the author of many books, including the 1986 bestseller Fatherhood. He was given Kennedy Center Honors in 1998 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2002.

Extra credit: Bill Cosby married the former Camille Hanks on 25 January 1964. They had four daughters and a son together: Erika (born 1965), Erinn (b. 1966), Ennis (b. 1969), Ensa (b. 1973), and Evin (b. 1976). Their son Ennis Cosby was shot to death in January 1997 in a botched robbery after he stopped to change a tire just off a Los Angeles freeway. A Ukrainian immigrant named Mikhail Markhasev was convicted of the crime... Bill Cosby has a bachelor's degree from Temple University (1971), and a master's degree (1972) and Ed.D. (1976) from the University of Massachusetts... In 1997 a woman named Autumn Jackson was arrested after trying to extort $40 million from Bill Cosby, claiming to be his illegitimate daughter. Cosby admitted to an affair with Jackson's mother but denied fathering Jackson. She was convicted of extortion and sentenced to 26 months in jail... Bill Cosby's 1987 movie Leonard, Part 6 is regarded as a famous Hollywood flop... Bill Cosby was a longtime pitchman for Jell-O pudding.

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