- NAME: Bill Cosby
- OCCUPATION: Film Actor, Television Actor, Comedian, Television Producer
- BIRTH DATE: July 12, 1937 (Age: 76)
- Did You Know?: After originally dropping out of high school, Bill Cosby went on to get his Bachelor's Degree from Temple University and a PhD from the University of Massachusetts.
- Did You Know?: Bill Cosby was the first African-American male to win a Primetime Emmy Award for I, Spy.
- EDUCATION: Temple University, University of Massachusetts (Amherst)
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Full Name: William Henry Cosby Jr.
- AKA: Bill Cosby
- ZODIAC SIGN: Cancer
Best Known For
Bill Cosby is an American comedian, actor and producer, who has played a major role in the development of more positive portrayal of African-Americans on television.
While filming the television series "Cosby," Bill Cosby received the tragic news that his son had been shot and killed.
Using his natural innocence and appeal, Bill Cosby became synonymous with the popular and fun treat, Jell-O.
After his iconic career had run its course, Bill Cosby took up more serious causes as he addressed issues in the African-American community.
Bill Cosby is best known for his time transforming television history as Heathcliff Huxtable on the hit television series "The Cosby Show."
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The sitcom focused on an upper-middle class African-American couple with five children. Each of the children's characters shared some traits of their real-life counterparts. Married since 1964, Cosby and his real-life wife, Camille, had four daughters and one son. It took some time to find a TV network willing to air the series about an African-American doctor, his lawyer-wife and their five children. In 1984, The Cosby Show debuted to favorable reviews and strong ratings.
Week after week,
The Cosby Show drew audiences with its warm humor and believable situations. Cosby's character, Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable, became one of the most popular dads in television history. He also served as a parental figure to his young co-stars, including Lisa Bonet, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Tempestt Bledsoe, Keshia Knight Pulliam and Raven-Symoné, on set. Phylicia Rashad co-starred with Cosby as his wife, Clair. After being the highest-rated sitcom on TV for five consecutive years, the show finally ended its run in 1992.
Over the show's eight-year run, Cosby found time for other projects: He appeared in several films, including Leonard Part 6 (1987) and Ghost Dad (1990). In 1986, Cosby achieved another career milestone—becoming a bestselling author. His reflections on parenting were included in the book Fatherhood, which sold more than 2.6 million copies. His opus on aging, Time Flies (1987), also enjoyed huge sales. In addition, Cosby enjoyed great popularity as a pitchman, appearing in commercials for such products as JELL-O.
After The Cosby Show, Cosby continued to work in television. He starred in The Cosby Mysteries, in which he played a retired criminologist who sometimes helped out a detective friend. In 1996, he returned to the sitcoms with Cosby, re-teaming with former co-star Phylicia Rashad. They were unable to obtain the same level of success as their earlier effort, but they did enjoy some popularity, staying on the air for four years.
While working on Cosby, the comedian experienced a deep personal loss. His only son, Ennis, was killed in 1997, shot to death while changing a tire on his car on the side of a California highway. Around the same time, Cosby was caught up in a paternity scandal. A young woman named Autumn Jackson claimed that Cosby was her father, and tried to blackmail him for $40 million (she threatened him, saying that she would go to the tabloids if she didn't get the money). She was arrested and later convicted of extortion, and was sentenced to 26 months in prison. Cosby admitted that he had a brief encounter with Jackson's mother, but he claimed he was not Autumn's father.
While coping with these difficult episodes, Cosby took on new professional challenges. He started a series of children's picture books featuring a character named Little Bill in 1997, which also became a children's TV program. A frequent speaker at commencement ceremonies, Cosby shared his advice in 1999's Congratulations! Now What?: A Book for Graduates. He took a serious look at the education system in 2000's American Schools: The $100 Billion Challenge, and paired up with his daughter Erika for 2003's Friends of a Feather: One of Life's Little Fables.
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