William H. Cosby Jr. was born on July 12th, 1937, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and for over thirty years, he has been one of the world's most respected and well-known entertainers and comedians. After tenth grade, Cosby joined the Navy and completed high school through a correspondence course. He later took up an athletics scholarship at Temple University, supporting himself during his studies by tending bar, where his easy-going style and witty joking with the clientèle prompted suggestions that he try stand-up comedy. This he did and was soon to be discovered by the legendary Carl Reiner.
In his early twenties, he appeared on many well-known variety programs including "The Ed Sullivan Show" (1948) (aka "The Ed Sullivan Show"). His big break came in 1965 when he appeared as "Alexander Scott" in "I Spy" (1965), winning numerous Emmys for his performance. He later appeared in "The Bill Cosby Show" (1969), playing a teacher, although originally the show only lasted for two years. He then created a Filmation cartoon based on many of his high school buddies including Weird Harold, Dumb Donald, Mushmouth, and others: the show was, of course, "Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids" (1972). The theme was humorous but also focused on Cosby's more educational side. He studied for many years during his career in the 1960s and 1970s, and he received a doctorate in Education from the University of Massachusetts. Cosby also starred in some highly successful movies such as Uptown Saturday Night (1974), Let's Do It Again (1975), A Piece of the Action (1977), Mother, Jugs & Speed (1976), and California Suite (1978). During his early years he also made some comedy albums that sold very well; his most notable comedy song being "Little Old Man." He was one of the original cast members of "The Electric Company" (1971), and he was featured in the series "Pinwheel" (1979) during the late 1970s and then appeared in the mediocre The Devil and Max Devlin (1981).
In 1984, 'Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids' stopped production, and "The Cosby Show" (1984) commenced. The show was originally intended to follow a blue-collar family, but finally ended up portraying a white-collar family. It was originally rejected by ABC, accepted by a then-floundering NBC, and was an almost instant success. From 1985 to 1987 the show broke viewing records, with Cosby becoming perhaps the strongest driving force in television during the eighties. Despite this great success, he arguably created his own downfall. The Cosby Show led what was considered by many at that time to be the best night of television: the line-up included "Night Court" (1984), "Hill Street Blues" (1981), and "Family Ties" (1982), which all followed The Cosby Show.
Cosby was dissatisfied with the way minorities were portrayed on television. He produced the TV series "A Different World" (1987) and insisted that this program should follow the Cosby Show, rather than Family Ties. A Different World was set in an historically Black college and concentrated on young people and education. Impact was felt on the show immediately; at its peak, the Cosby Show logged an estimated 70 million viewers. However, after the scheduling reshuffle, the show lost roughly 20% of its massive audience. However, Cosby was still riding high in the early nineties until massive competition from "The Simpsons" (1989).
The Cosby Show finally ended in 1992, conceding to "The Simpsons" (1989), with the final production considered to be one of the highest-rated shows of the season and featured a pleading Cosby asking for peace in riot-torn Los Angeles during the height of the Rodney King riots. Cosby never seemed able to top the success of the Cosby Show; his film Leonard Part 6 (1987) was considered to be one of the worst American films in history and may have contributed in part to his downfall as a film actor, along with his performance in Ghost Dad (1990). He did attempt a minor comeback in 1996 starring in the Robin Williams film Jack (1996), which was directed by Francis Ford Coppola; and in another show, "Cosby" (1996), (starring Phylicia Rashad, who appeared as his wife in the previous Cosby Show). Since then he has produced films such as Men of Honor (2000), and shows including "Little Bill" (1999).
Sadly, his son Ennis was murdered in 1997. Throughout the years, Bill Cosby has taken a socially conscious tone, often associated with family values, coupled with a distinctly urban spin on his style. He will go down in entertainment history as one of the most successful and most respected entertainers in the world.
|Camille O. Cosby||(née Camille Olivia Hanks) (25 January 1964 - present) 5 children|
Stories of his childhood and fatherhood
His only prop onstage is a chair
His loud, gregarious voice.
National Enquirer offers $100,000 reward for the capture of the killer of Bill's son, Ennis. [January 1997]
Bill's son, Ennis Cosby (27), was shot dead while fixing a flat tire off the San Diego Freeway. [16 January 1997]
He and wife Camille O. Cosby have five children: Erika (b. 8 April 1965), Erinn (b. 23 July 1966), Ennis (15 April 1969 - 16 January 1997), Ensa (b. 8 April 1973) and Evin (b. 27 August 1976).
In 1976, he earned a doctorate in education from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. His dissertation was titled "An Integration of the Visual Media Via "Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids" (1972) into the Elementary School Curriculum as a Teaching Aid and Vehicle to Achieve Increased Learning."
At one time expressed a very public interest in purchasing the National Broadcasting Company.
Sang on a number of albums in the 1970s.
In addition to numerous best-selling comedy albums over the years, for which he won several Grammy awards, Cosby had a top-40 hit as a singer in 1969 with "Little Old Man."
Insisted that "The Cosby Show" (1984) be filmed in New York; he disliked working in Hollywood.
Grand marshal, Tournament of Roses parade 
Many elements of "The Cosby Show" (1984) were references to his own family. Phylicia Rashad's (Clair Huxtable's) maiden name was Hanks, like his wife Camille's maiden name. Also, like he has in real life, the Huxtables had four daughters and one son.
Is a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity.
Son Ennis is buried on Cosby family estate in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts.
First black performer to win an Emmy, for "I Spy" (1965).
Biography in "Who's Who in Comedy" by Ronald L. Smith, pp. 120-122. New York: Facts on File, 1992. ISBN 0816023387
Cliff Huxtable, Cosby's character on "The Cosby Show" (1984), was ranked #1 by TV Guide in its list of the 50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time [20 June 2004 issue].
The oldest of 4 children.
Inducted into the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame in 1994.
Broke Radio City's 53-year-old attendance record for his concert appearance. (1986)
Is a best-selling author.
Fat Albert, Old Weird Harold, and Dumb Donald were based on his series of comedy routines about his school pals, and he tested them on his most appreciative audience: his mother.
Was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Music from Berklee College of Music (Boston, MA) for his commitment to advancing higher education and for his longtime love and promotion of jazz. [May 2004]
Was once part-owner of the Golden State Warriors of the National Basketball Association.
The character Dr. Hibbert from "The Simpsons" (1989) is based on him.
When "The Simpsons" (1989)) started competing with "The Cosby Show" (1984) in 1989, the already declining audience of the show decreased even more. Because of this, both shows had a playful attitude toward each other. "The Cosby Show" made small references to the "The Simpsons", including one episode where Bill wore a Bart Simpson mask, and "The Simpsons" made small references to "The Cosby Show", including the character of Dr. Hibbert, a direct reference to Cosby.
He decided to become a stand-up comedian when he was a bartender. Many of the bar's customers would comment on how funny he was and tell him to try his act on stage for an audience. He is one of the most successful stand-up comics in history, releasing numerous hit records of his shows and still selling out venues to this date.
When "The Cosby Show" (1984) was ruling the NBC line-up in the mid-'80s, he insisted that his newly produced show, "A Different World" (1987), a spin-off of "The Cosby Show", follow after his show instead of the hit "Family Ties" (1982). He wanted this because he felt there was a lack of shows on TV that featured African-Americans in a positive light. NBC made the move, which led to two things happening: "The Cosby Show" audience was cut by 20% and never fully recovered, and "Family Ties" struggled to get the high numbers it once received. It was canceled in 1989.
Dyslexia ran in the Cosby family. Bill didn't inherit it, but brother Russell Cosby did (not finding out until he was an adult). Bill's son Ennis was dyslexic, but overcame it well enough to graduate from college.
Like Bob Newhart, has the ability to be funny without resorting to profanity.
Recently became a vegetarian.
All his children name's start with the letter E for excellence
Outstanding athlete at Temple University, in football and track and field.
When "The Cosby Show" (1984) was ruling the NBC line-up in the mid-'80s, he insisted that NBC purchase and use Ikegami studio cameras for the production of his show. At the time NBC was owned by RCA, whose studio cameras NBC used exclusively. But Cosby felt that Ikegami's product produced a better picture. NBC agreed and used the cameras.
Won the Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album six years in a row, 1965 to 1970.
Upon receiving his Bob Hope Humanitarian Award at the 2003 Emmys, Cosby paid tribute to two people: children's show host Fred Rogers (who had died earlier that year) and, poignantly, his late son, Ennis.
Did not submit himself for Emmy consideration during the eight-year run of "The Cosby Show" (1984).
Holds a Doctorate in Education.
Played as Running Back for Temple University (Philadelphia, PA, USA) football team during the 1962-1964 seasons.
Received the 12th annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor [October 2009].
Best known by the public for his starring role as Dr. Cliff Huxtable on "The Cosby Show" (1984).
He was the first entertainer to win an Emmy Award, the Mark Twain Prize, and the Spingarn Medal.
Cousin of Del Shields.
Father of Ensa Cosby.
[on his murdered son, Ennis} He was my hero.
The problem is that your daughter has given her heart to a 15-year-old boy, and a 15-year-old boy does not yet qualify as a human being.
It's the little things that count when you're a daddy. Like taking your little girl for ice cream. First, you have to teach her about the concept of gravity. I can't tell you how many ice creams I've had to pick up off the floor, rinse off and stick back on my kid's cone. Now that may sound strange, but have you bought ice cream lately? Good gosh, it's up to 75 cents a scoop. A scoop! What's in it, gold?
Gray hair is God's graffiti.
A word to the wise ain't necessary -- it's the stupid ones who need the advice.
Don't worry about senility--when it hits you, you won't know it.
Human beings are the only creatures that allow their children to come home.
I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is to try to please everyone.
[on the failure of his experimental educational/variety show, "Cos" (1976)] My first series ["I Spy" (1965)] ran three years, my second ["The Bill Cosby Show" (1969)] ran two years and my third ["The New Bill Cosby Show" (1972)] ran one. This show, if I'm lucky, will run the 13 weeks we contracted for.
My mother and father ate oink. And they loved oink grease. Lard is what they ate. And they soaked up grease with a biscuit. And they loved butter too. And they sopped up and drank and ate grease. Sausage. Bacon. Ham. They loved it. Fatback. Salt pork. Oink. And I was born with lard all on my head, in the cracks of my arms and the back of my leg. So now my cholesterol is 741. So what? It doesn't bother me that it's 741. You eat what I eat, it's supposed to be. Every once in awhile my left arm will go numb. Okay. But if you shake it, it'll go away.
Because of my father, I thought my name was Jesus Christ. My brother Russell thought that his name was Dammit.
[speaking in Washington, DC, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Brown vs. Board of Education ruling that eradicated segregated schooling in America] These people marched and were hit in the face with rocks to get an education, and now we've got these knuckleheads walking around. The lower economic people are not holding up their end in this deal. These people are not parenting. They are buying things for kids--$500 sneakers for what? I can't even talk the way these people talk, "Why you ain't," "Where you is?" You can't be a doctor with that kind of crap coming out of your mouth!
Kids will spend $500 on sneakers but won't spend $200 on "Hooked-on-Phonics".
[on "The Cosby Show" (1984)] I wanted to give the house back to the parents.
No parent must ever say, "Get the kids out of here, I'm trying to watch TV. The father who does start saying this is likely to see one of his children on the 6:00 news."
[commenting that many young actors don't give their parents proper credit] I'm still waiting for some actor to win, say, an Oscar . . . and deliver the following acceptance speech: "I would like to thank my parents, first of all, for letting me live."
What best defines a child is the total inability to receive information from anything not plugged in.
If you're a parent, the five worst words you can say to your children are, "When I was your age . . . " You were NEVER their age. You were older in the womb.
I can tell you, from experience, that whoever said "Children and fools cannot lie" was one or the other himself. There's only one way to guarantee that your children are telling the truth: limit your questions to the names of their schools.
[on Detroit's large population of people in poverty] When I come back and come back and come back I'm making a statement that this is for real. You're about to listen, absorb and to challenge yourself to move in a positive direction. Strength, that's what we're after.
Phil Woods said the following: Death is the last thing he wants to do. Don't worry about it! You don't worry about what's going to be the last thing. You know you're going to be dead. So do I. And if I go before you, am I worried? No. Jealous? Yeah.
[on artist, Varnette Honeywood, in 1997]: You can depict segregation, starving, and homelessness, but in Varnette's work, you can see teenagers doing homework, a family cooking a meal, girls doing their hair. Certain art in our culture depicts a down feeling about African American people are treated. They are poor and needy and need help in the Rightings the wrongs. Varnette's work let us not forget the personal joys.
I don't want sitcom jokes. I don't want jokes about behinds or breasts or pimples or characters saying,'Oh, my God' every other line. What we want to deal with is human behavior. If we can put it on paper and have it come to life through the actors, then we can have people identifying with us.
Some people have said our show is about a white family in blackface. What does that mean? Does it mean only white people have a lock on living together in a home where the father is a doctor and the mother is a lawyer and the children are constantly being told to study by their parents?
My mother was an authority on pigsties. She would look at my room and say, 'This is the worst pigsty I've ever seen'.
|"Cosby" (1996)||$1,000,000/episode (1996)|
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