Bill Cosby From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Bill Cosby Birth name William Henry Cosby, Jr. Born July 12, 1937 (1937-07-12) (age 71) Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. Medium Stand-up, film, television, print Nationality American Years active 1962–present Genres Observational comedy, Improvisational comedy, Physical comedy Subject(s) Childhood, Family, Parenting, Marriage, Aging, Everyday life Influences Jonathan Winters, Groucho Marx, Dick Gregory, George Carlin, Lenny Bruce Influenced Richard Pryor, Billy Crystal, Jerry Seinfeld, Bernie Mac, Chris Rock, Stephen Colbert, Tim Allen, Dave Chappelle, George Lopez, Steve Harvey, Louis C.K., Jim Carrey, Damon Wayans, Adam Herbert, Kenan Thompson, Cardell Willis, Jeffrey Byrd, Josh Peck Spouse Camille Hanks (1964–present) (5 children) Notable works and roles Alexander Scott in I Spy Host and voices in Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids Himself in Bill Cosby: Himself Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable in The Cosby Show Website www.BillCosby.com Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actor - Drama Series 1966 I Spy 1967 I Spy 1968 I Spy Bob Hope Humanitarian Award 2003 Golden Globe Awards Best Actor - Television Comedy/Musical 1985 The Cosby Show 1986 The Cosby Show Grammy Awards Best Comedy Recording 1965 I Started Out as a Child 1966 Why Is There Air? 1967 Wonderfulness 1968 Revenge 1969 To Russell, My Brother, Whom I Slept With 1970 Sports 1987 Those of You With or Without Children,
You'll Understand Best Recording for Children 1972 Bill Cosby Talks to Kids About Drugs 1973 The Electric Company William Henry Cosby, Jr. (born July 12, 1937) is an American comedian, actor, author, television producer and activist. A veteran stand-up performer, he got his start at various clubs, then landed a vanguard role in the 1960s action show I Spy. He later starred in his own series, The Bill Cosby Show, in the late 1960s. He was one of the major characters on the children's television show The Electric Company for its first two seasons, and created the humorous educational cartoon series Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, about a group of young friends growing up in the city. Cosby also acted in numerous films.
During the 1980s, Cosby produced and starred in what is considered one of the decade's defining sitcoms, The Cosby Show, which lasted eight seasons from 1984 to 1992, and is still in syndication. The sitcom highlighted the experiences and growth of an upper middle-class African-American family. In the 1990s, Cosby starred in Cosby, which first aired in 1996, hosted Kids Say the Darndest Things, which began in 1998, and appeared in a number of movies. He has also appeared on the stand-up circuit. His good-natured, fatherly image has made him a popular personality and garnered him the nickname of "America's Dad". He has also been a sought-after spokesman and over the years has plugged numerous products including Jell-O Pudding, Kodak Film, Ford, Texas Instruments and Coca-Cola (as well as New Coke). Contents [hide] 1 Early life 2 I Spy 3 The Bill Cosby Show and the 1970s 4 The Cosby Show and the 1980s 5 In the 1990s and 2000s 6 Personal life 7 The Pound Cake speech and other comments on moral values 8 Albums 9 Books 10 References 11 External links  Early life West Philadelphia, born and raised, Cosby was the son of Anna Pearl (née Hite), a maid, and William Henry Cosby, Sr., a cook for the U.S. navy. He was one of four brothers. During much of his early childhood, Cosby's father was away in the US armed forces and spent several years fighting in World War II. As a student, he described himself as a class clown. Cosby was the captain of the baseball and track & field teams at Mary Channing Wister Elementary School in Philadelphia, as well as the class president. Early on, though, teachers noted his propensity for clowning around rather than studying. At Glynn Academy, Cosby began acting in plays as well as continuing his devotion to playing sports. He went on to Central High School, an academically challenging magnet school, but his full schedule of playing football, basketball, baseball, and running track made it hard for him. In addition, Cosby was working before and after school, selling produce, shining shoes, and stocking shelves at a supermarket to help out the family. He transferred to Germantown High School, but failed the tenth grade. Instead of repeating, he got a job as an apprentice at a shoe repair shop, which he liked, but could not see himself doing the rest of his life. Subsequently, he joined the Navy, serving at the Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, Naval Station Argentia, Newfoundland and at the Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland. Cosby is a member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity. While serving in the Navy as a Hospital Corpsman for four years, Cosby worked in physical therapy with some seriously injured Korean War casualties, which helped him discover what was important to him. He immediately realized the need for an education, and finished his equivalency diploma via correspondence courses. He then won a track and field scholarship to Philadelphia's Temple University in 1961, and studied physical education while running track and playing fullback on the football team. However, he had continued to hone his talent for humor, joking with fellow enlistees in the service and then with college friends. When he began tending bar at the Cellar, a club in Philadelphia, to earn money, he became fully aware of his ability to make people laugh. He worked his customers and saw his tips increase, then ventured on to the stage. Cosby left Temple to pursue a career in comedy. He lined up gigs at clubs in Philadelphia and soon was off to New York City, where he appeared at the Gaslight Cafe starting in 1962. He was discovered by actor Carl Reiner, who enjoyed Cosby's brand of humor. Later, the university would grant him his Bachelor's degree on the basis of "life experience." Cosby's career took off quickly, and he lined up dates in Chicago, Las Vegas, San Francisco, and Washington DC, among others. He received national exposure on NBC's Tonight Show in the summer of 1963 and released Bill Cosby Is a Very Funny Fellow...Right!, the first of a series of popular comedy albums in 1964. He was able to return to finish his BA from Temple and received an MA and Ed.D. from the University of Massachusetts in 1972 and 1977, respectively. Cosby's Ed.D dissertation was entitled, An Integration of the Visual Media via Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids Into the Elementary School Curriculum as a Teaching Aid and Vehicle to Achieve Increased Learning. While many comics were using the growing freedom of that decade to explore controversial, sometimes risqué material, Cosby was making his reputation with humorous recollections of his childhood.
Many Americans wondered about the absence of race as a topic in Cosby's stories. As Cosby's success grew he had to defend his choice of material regularly; as he argued, "A white person listens to my act and he laughs and he thinks, 'Yeah, that's the way I see it too.' Okay. He's white. I'm Negro. And we both see things the same way. That must mean that we are alike...So I figure I'm doing as much for good race relations as the next guy."  I Spy In 1965, Cosby achieved a first for African-Americans when he costarred with Robert Culp in I Spy, an adventure show in the James Bond-style. But Cosby's presence as the first black star of a dramatic television series made I Spy unique; Cosby and NBC executives were concerned that some affiliates might be unwilling to carry the series. At the beginning of the 1965 season, however, only four stations--in Georgia, Florida, and Alabama--declined the show. But the rest of the country was taken with the show's exotic locales and the authentic chemistry of the stars, and it became one of the ratings hits of that television season. I Spy finished among the twenty most-watched shows that year, and Cosby was honored with an Emmy award for outstanding actor in a dramatic series, as he would be again for the next two consecutive years. Although ostensibly focused on Culp's character, the show had clearly become a vehicle for his co-star. Yet throughout the series' three-year run Cosby was repeatedly confronted with the question of race. For him it was enough that I Spy portrayed two men who worked as equals despite their different races; but critics took the show to task for not having a black character engage the racial issues that inflamed the country at that time. Cosby was relieved when the series ended, enabling him to concentrate on his family and to return to live performing. During the run of the series, Cosby continued to do stand-up comedy performances and released a half-dozen record albums. He also began to dabble in singing, recording Silver Throat: Bill Cosby Sings in 1967 which provided him with a hit single with his recording of "Li'l Ole Man". He would record several more musical albums into the early 1970s, but his recordings primiarly continued to be of his stand-up comedy work.  The Bill Cosby Show and the 1970s He still pursued a variety of television projects: as a regular guest host on The Tonight Show and the star of an annual special for NBC. He returned with another series in 1969, The Bill Cosby Show, a situation comedy that ran for two seasons. Cosby played a physical education teacher at a Los Angeles high school (he had actually majored in physical education at Temple University); while only a modest critical success, the show was a ratings hit, finishing eleventh in its first season. After The Bill Cosby Show left the air, Cosby returned to his education, actively pursuing his doctorate of education from the University of Massachusetts. This professional interest led to his involvement in the PBS series The Electric Company, for which he recorded several segments teaching reading skills to young children. In 1972, he was back in prime time with a variety series, The New Bill Cosby Show, but this time he met with poor ratings, and the show lasted only a season. More successful was a Saturday morning show, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, hosted by Cosby and based on his own childhood, running from 1972 to 1979, then from 1979 to 1984 as The New Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids. Some schools used the program as a teaching tool, and Cosby himself wrote his thesis on it in order to obtain his doctorate in Education in 1977. Also during the 1970s, Cosby and other African American actors, including Sidney Poitier, joined forces to make some successful comedy films which countered the violent "blaxploitation" films of the era. Uptown Saturday Night (1974) and Let's Do It Again (1975) were generally praised, but much of Cosby's film work has fallen flat. Mother, Jugs & Speed (1976) costarring Raquel Welch and Harvey Keitel; A Piece of the Action, with Poitier; and California Suite, a compilation of four Neil Simon plays, were all panned. In addition, Cos (1976) an hour-long variety show featuring puppets, sketches, and musical numbers, was canceled within the year. Cosby was also a regular on children's public television programs starting in the 70's, hosting the "Picture Pages" segments which lasted into the early 80s.  The Cosby Show and the 1980s Cosby's greatest television success came in 1984 with the debut of The Cosby Show. For Cosby the new situation comedy was a response to the increasingly violent fare the networks usually offered.
He insisted on and received total creative control of the series, and he was involved in every aspect of the series. Not surprisingly, the show had parallels to Cosby's actual family life: like the characters Cliff and Claire Huxtable, Cosby and his wife Camille were college educated, financially successful, and had five children. Essentially a throwback to the wholesome family situation comedy, The Cosby Show was unprecedented in its portrayal of an intelligent, affluent, nonstereotypical African-American family. Much of the material from the pilot and first season of The Cosby Show was taken from his then popular video Bill Cosby: Himself, released in 1983. The series was an immediate success, debuting near the top of the ratings and staying there for most of its long run. The familiar question of relevance came up again but was more or less drowned out by praise for the series. People magazine called the show "revolutionary", and Newsday concurred that it was a "real breakthrough." In 1987, Cosby attempted to return to the big screen with the spy spoof Leonard Part 6. Unfortunately, although Cosby himself was producer and wrote the story, he realized during production that the film was not going to be what he wanted and publicly denounced it, warning audiences to "stay away".  In the 1990s and 2000s Bill Cosby's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.After The Cosby Show went off the air in 1992, Cosby embarked on a number of other projects, including a notably scripted revival of the classic Groucho Marx game show You Bet Your Life (1992-1993) along with the ill-fated TV-movie I Spy Returns (1994) and The Cosby Mysteries (1994). In the mid-1990s, he appeared as a detective in black and white film noir-themed commercials for Turner Classic Movies. He also made appearances in three more films, Ghost Dad (1990), The Meteor Man (1993); and Jack (1996); in addition to being interviewed in Spike Lee's 4 Little Girls (1997), a documentary about the racist bombing of a Birmingham, Alabama, church in 1963. Also in 1996, he started up a new show for CBS, Cosby, again co-starring Phylicia Rashad, his onscreen wife on The Cosby Show. Cosby co-produced the show for Carsey-Werner Productions. The show was based on a cynical British program called One Foot in the Grave, but Cosby lightened the humor. It centered on Cosby as Hilton Lucas, an iconoclastic senior citizen who tries to find a new job after being "downsized", and in the meantime, gets on his wife's nerves. Madeline Kahn costarred as Rashād's goofy business partner. Cosby was hired by CBS to be the official "spokesman" for the WWJ-TV during an advertising campaign from 1995-1998. In addition, Cosby in 1998 became the host of Kids Say the Darndest Things. After four solid seasons, Kids Say the Darndest Things was canceled. The last episode aired April 28, 2000. Cosby continued to work with CBS through a development deal and other projects. His wellspring of creativity became manifest again with a series for preschoolers, Little Bill, which made its debut on Nickelodeon in 1999. The network renewed the popular program in November 2000. In 2001, at an age when many give serious consideration to retirement, Cosby's agenda included the publication of a new book, as well as delivering the commencement addresses at Morris Brown College and at Ohio State University. Also that year, he signed a deal with 20th Century Fox to develop a live-action feature film centering on the popular Fat Albert character from his 1970s cartoon series. Fat Albert was released in theaters in December 2004. In May 2007 he spoke at the Commencement of High Point University.  Personal life Cosby met his wife Camille Hanks while he was performing stand-up in Washington, D.C., in the early 1960s, and she was a student at the University of Maryland. They married on January 25, 1964, and had five children: daughters Erika Ranee (b. 1965), Erinn Chalene (b. 1966), Ensa Camille (b. 1973), and Evin Harrah (b. 1976), and son Ennis William (1969-1997). His son Ennis was shot to death while changing a flat tire on the side of the Interstate 405 in Los Angeles on January 16, 1997. Bill Cosby is an active alumni supporter of his alma mater, Temple University, and in particular their men's basketball team, whose games Cosby frequently attends (particularly during the team's glory days under coach John Chaney, who is a close friend of Cosby). Cosby is a huge Philadelphia Eagles fan. Recently, when both the Eagles' starting and backup quarterbacks were injured, Cosby sent some of his old football gear to head coach Andy Reid, joking he was ready to play if needed. Cosby also attends many public events, such as the 100th Millrose Games at Madison Square Garden in New York on February 2, 2007.
Cosby enjoys cigars, a hobby he picked up from Groucho Marx, one of his comedy influences. Cosby is also a noted pen collector, and often frequents several well-known fountain pen stores; he is the spokesperson for Fountain Pen Hospital. Cosby maintains homes in Shelburne, Massachusetts and Cheltenham, Pennsylvania. Bill Cosby also has been hosting the Los Angeles Playboy Jazz Festival since 1979. The Playboy Jazz Festival in Los Angeles 2007. Bill Cosby is on stage. Lists of miscellaneous information should be avoided. Please relocate any relevant information into appropriate sections or articles. (August 2008) Cosby received an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from Carnegie Mellon University at its 2007 commencement ceremony, where he was also the keynote speaker. Cosby received an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from Yale University on 2003. Cosby received an Honorary Degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the University of Cincinnati during the 2001 graduation season. Cosby received an Honorary Degree in 2003 presented by President William Harjo LoneFight from the Sisseton Wahpeton College on the Lake Traverse Reservation for his contributions to minority education. Cosby received an Honorary Doctorate from West Chester University of Pennsylvania during the 2003 graduation ceremony. Cosby received an Honorary Doctorate from Baylor University (September 4, 2003 "Spirit Rally"). Cosby received an Honorary Doctorate from Haverford College, May 2002. (Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa) Cosby received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania in May 1997. He also served as the commencement speaker. In a British 2005 poll to find The Comedian's Comedian, he was voted among the top 50 comedy acts ever by fellow comedians and comedy insiders. He received Kennedy Center Honors in 1998. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2002. He received an Honorary Doctor of Music Degree from Berklee College of Music during the 2004 commencement ceremony. Cosby was also a speaker at the school's 60th anniversary concert in 2005. He won the 2003 Bob Hope Humanitarian Award. In 1969, he received the third in a long line of prestigious "Man of the Year" awards from Harvard University's famed performance group, the Hasty Pudding Theatricals.  The Pound Cake speech and other comments on moral values Main article: Pound Cake speech In May 2004 after receiving an award at the celebration of the 50th Anniversary commemoration of the Brown v. Board of Education ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court's decision that outlawed school segregation, Cosby made public remarks critical of African Americans who put higher priorities on sports, fashion, and "acting hard" than on education, self-respect, and self-improvement. He has made a plea for African American families to educate their children on the many different aspects of American culture (Baker). According to the Washington Times, he has had a long history of endeavors to advance African Americans (DeBose, Brian). In "Pound Cake", Cosby, whose doctorate degree is in education, asked that African American parents begin teaching their children better morals at a younger age. He directed this address to the leaders in the lower and middle economic classes of the African-American community (see main article). Cosby told reporters of the Washington Times, "Parenting needs to come to the forefront. If you need help and you don't know how to parent, we want to be able to reach out and touch" (DeBose, Brian). Richard Leiby of the Washington Post reported, "Bill Cosby was anything but politically correct in his remarks Monday night at a Constitution Hall bash commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Brown vs. Board of Education decision." Cosby again came under sharp criticism, and again he was largely unapologetic for his stance when he made similar remarks during a speech in a July 1 Rainbow Coalition meeting commemorating the anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education. During that speech, he admonished blacks for not assisting or concerning themselves with the individuals who are involved with crime or have counter-productive aspirations. He further described those who needed attention as "blacks [who] had forgotten the sacrifices of those in the Civil Rights Movement." The talk was interrupted several times by applause and received praise from leaders such as Jesse Jackson. As of 2008 Cosby continues to lecture to black communities (usually at churches) about his frustrations with certain problems prevalent in underpriveleged urban communities such as taking part in illegal drugs, teenage pregnancy, Black Entertainment Television, high school dropouts, anti-intellectualism, gangsta rap, vulgarity, thievery, offensive clothing, vanity, parental alienation, single parenting and failing to live up to the ideals of Frederick Douglas, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the African American ancestors that preceded Generation X. Cosby criticizes African Americans that associate his ideals with race treachery.  Albums Bill Cosby Is a Very Funny Fellow...Right! (1963) I Started Out as a Child (1964) Why Is There Air? (1965) Wonderfulness (1966) Silver Throat: Bill Cosby Sings (1967) Revenge (1967) To Russell, My Brother, Whom I Slept With (1968) 200 M.P.H. (1968) Bill Cosby Sings Hooray for the Salvation Army Band! (1968) 8:15 12:15 (1969) It's True! It's True! (1969) The Best of Bill Cosby (1969) More of the Best of Bill Cosby (1970)
Sports (Bill Cosby Album) (1970) Live: Madison Square Garden Center (1970) When I Was a Kid (1971) For Adults Only (1971) Badfoot Brown & the Bunions Bradford Funeral Marching Band (1971) Bill Cosby Talks to Kids About Drugs (1971) Inside the Mind of Bill Cosby (1972) Fat Albert (1973) Bill (1973) At Last Bill Cosby Really Sings (1974) Down Under (1975) Bill Cosby Is Not Himself These Days (1976) Disco Bill (1977) My Father Confused Me... What Must I Do? What Must I Do? (1977) Bill's Best Friend (1978) Bill Cosby: Himself (1982) Those of You With or Without Children, You'll Understand (1986) Cosby and the Kids (1986) Where You Lay Your Head (1990) My Appreciation (1991) Oh, Baby (1991) At His Best (1994) Hello Friend: To Ennis, With Love (1997) 20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection: The Best of Bill Cosby (2001) The Bill Cosby Collection (2004) State of Emergency (2008)  Books Fatherhood (1986) - ISBN 0-425-09772-2 Time Flies (1987) - ISBN 0-553-27724-3 Love and Marriage (1989) - ISBN 0-553-28467-3 Childhood (1991) - ISBN 0-399-13647-9 Kids Say the Darndest Things (1998) - ISBN 0-553-58126-0 Congratulations! Now What? A Book for Graduates (1999) - ISBN 0-7868-6572-5 American Schools: The 100 Billion Dollar Challenge (2000) - ISBN 0-7595-5000-X (with Dwight Allen Ed.D.) Cosbyology: Essays and Observations from the Doctor of Comedy (2001) - ISBN 0-7868-6810-4 I Am What I Ate...and I'm Frightened!!! (2003) - ISBN 0-06-054573-9 Friends of a Feather (2003) - ISBN 0-06-009147-9 Come On People: On the Path from Victims to Victors (2007) - ISBN 1-59-555092-5 (with Alvin F. Poussaint M.D.)  References ^ Welkos, Robert W. (2007-07-24). "Funny, that was my joke". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved on 2008-05-04. ^ Bill Cosby Biography (1937-) ^ A Glimpse at Bill Cosby's Virginia Roots ^ "Bill Cosby Trivia". TV.com. Retrieved on 2008-05-04. ^ "Bill Cosby and Me - Behind the Lens" (9-11-2007). Retrieved on 2008-05-04. ^ a b c d e f "Bill Cosby Biography", Buzzle.com. Retrieved on 2008-05-04. ^ William Morris Agency, retrieved May 31, 2006 ^ a b "Transition Profile — Bill Cosby". Veterans Careers. Military.com. Retrieved on 2007-05-31. ^ Kennedy Center, retrieved May 31, 2006 ^ ESPER, retrieved May 31, 2006 ^ Verve Records, retrieved May 31, 2006 ^ His Ed.D is mistakenly thought by many to be honorary. The degree was earned, and the real dissertation can easily be found in the UMI ProQuest Dissertation Abstracts as pub. no. AAT 7706369 ^ Leonard Part 6 (1987) ^ Celebrating honors and achievements "Commencement 2007- Carnegie Mellon University" ^ Yale Bulletin and Calendar Vol 31, No 31. June 6, 2003. ^ http://www.haverford.edu/commencement/cosby.htm ^ "BIOGRAPHY OF BILL COSBY". John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Retrieved on 2007-02-23. ^ Berklee College of Music (2004-05-08). "Retiring College President Lee Eliot Berk and Bill Cosby Honored at Berklee College of Music's 2004 Commencement". Press release. Retrieved on 2007-02-23. General References DeBose, Brian (September 9, 2004). ""Cosby urges leaders to aid black families"", The Washington Times. Retrieved on 2007-11-04. Leiby, Richard. "Publications with a Cannes-Do Attitude." Washington Post. May 19, 2004: 3. Morano, Marc. "Bill Cosby was hounded by President Nixon." World Entertainment News Network. May 1, 2000. 2 Mar 2006. www.imdb.com "Segregated Expectations" USA Today. May 15, 2003: 12. Wu, Frank H. "Brown at 50: Keeping Promises." Black Issues in Higher Education. May 20, 2004: 49 "Biography — William Henry "Bill" Cosby, Jr.". Biographies in Naval History. Naval Historical Center, Department of the Navy (June 22, 2006). Retrieved on 2007-11-04.  External links Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Bill Cosby African American portal Official Bill Cosby Site Bill Cosby at the Internet Movie Database Bill Cosby at the Internet Broadway Database Interview with Cosby from 1990 (24 minutes) Interview transcript from interview after the Pound Cake Speech You Bet Your Life home page Works by or about Bill Cosby in libraries (WorldCat catalog) [hide]v • d • ePrimetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor - Drama Series Robert Young (1956) · Robert Young (1957) · Raymond Burr (1959) · Robert Stack (1960) · Raymond Burr (1961) · E. G. Marshall (1962) · E. G. Marshall (1963) · Bill Cosby (1966) · Bill Cosby (1967) · Bill Cosby (1968) · Carl Betz (1969) · Robert Young (1970) · Hal Holbrook (1971) · Peter Falk (1972) · Richard Thomas (1973) · Telly Savalas (1974) · Robert Blake (1975) Complete list: (1956-1975) · (1976-2000) · (2001-present) Persondata NAME Cosby, Bill ALTERNATIVE NAMES Cosby, William Henry, Jr. SHORT DESCRIPTION DATE OF BIRTH July 12, 1937 (1937-07-12) (age 71) PLACE OF BIRTH Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. DATE OF DEATH PLACE OF DEATH
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