| File:Bill Cosby (2010).jpg |
Cosby in February 2010
|Born||William Henry Cosby Jr.|
July 12, 1937
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Occupation||Actor, comedian, author, producer, musician, activist|
|Notable work(s)||I Spy|
The Bill Cosby Show
Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids
The Cosby Show
The Cosby Mysteries
The Electric Company
|Spouse(s)||Camille Hanks (1964–present)|
|Children||Erika, Erinn, Ensa, Evin, Ennis|
William Henry "Bill" Cosby Jr. (born July 12, 1937) is an American comedian, actor, author, television producer, educator, musician and activist. A veteran stand-up performer, he got his start at the hungry i in San Francisco and various other clubs, then landed a starring role in the 1960s action show I Spy. He later starred in his own sitcom, The Bill Cosby Show. He was one of the major performers on the children's television series The Electric Company during its first two seasons, and created the educational cartoon comedy series Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, about a group of young friends growing up in the city. Cosby also acted in a number of films.
During the 1980s, Cosby produced and starred in one of the decade's defining sitcoms, The Cosby Show, which aired eight seasons from 1984 to 1992. It was the number one show in America for five straight years (1985–89). The sitcom highlighted the experiences and growth of an affluent African-American family. He also produced the spin-off sitcom A Different World, which became second to The Cosby Show in ratings. He starred in the sitcom Cosby from 1996 to 2000 and hosted Kids Say the Darndest Things for two seasons.
In 2002, scholar Molefi Kete Asante included him in his book The 100 Greatest African Americans.
In 1976, Cosby earned a Doctor of Education degree from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. His dissertation discussed the use of Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids as a teaching tool in elementary schools.
Cosby was born on July 12, 1937 and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He is one of four sons born to Anna Pearl (née Hite), a maid, and William Henry Cosby Sr., who served as a sailor in the U.S. Navy. During much of his early childhood, Cosby's father was away in the U.S. 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 both the baseball team and the track and field team at Mary Channing Wister Public School in Philadelphia, as well as the class president. Early on, though, teachers noted his propensity for clowning around rather than studying. At FitzSimons Junior High School, 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.
While serving in the Navy as a Hospital Corpsman for four years, Cosby worked in physical therapy with some seriously injured Korean War casualties. He finished his equivalency diploma via correspondence courses. He then won a track and field scholarship to Philadelphia's Temple University in 1961–62, and studied physical education while running track and playing fullback on the football team.
As Cosby progressed through his undergraduate studies, he continued to hone his talent for humor, joking with fellow enlistees in the service and then with college friends. When he began bar tending 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 onto the stage.
Cosby met his future wife, Camille Olivia Hanks, while he was performing stand-up in Washington, D.C., in the early 1960s, when she was a student at the University of Maryland. They married on January 25, 1964, and had five children: four daughters Erika Ranee (b. 1965), Erinn Chalene (b. 1966), Ensa Camille (b. 1973), and Evin Harrah (b. 1976), and a son Ennis William (1969–1997). Their son Ennis was murdered on January 16, 1997 while changing a flat tire on the side of Interstate 405 in Los Angeles. In addition to his five children, Cosby has three grandchildren through his two youngest daughters.
Cosby is a Protestant Christian.
Cosby maintains homes in Shelburne, Massachusetts, and Cheltenham, Pennsylvania.
Cosby has hosted the Los Angeles Playboy Jazz Festival since 1979. An avid musician, he's best known as a jazz drummer, although he can be seen playing bass guitar with Jerry Lewis and Sammy Davis, Jr. on Hugh Hefner's 1970s talk show. His story "The Regular Way" was featured in Playboy's December 1968 issue.
Cosby is an active alumnus supporter of his alma mater, Temple University, and in particular its men's basketball team, whose games Cosby frequently attends. He is a member of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity. He was initiated in the fraternity's Beta Alpha Alpha graduate chapter in White Plains, New York, in 1988.
Cosby also attends many public events, such as the 100th Millrose Games at Madison Square Garden in New York City on February 2, 2007. His love for track and field athletics has also been shown with his long-time sponsorship and on-track work with the Penn Relays. For many years, Cosby has been known to work the finish line at Franklin Field and congratulate athletes.
In July 1997, Cosby testified that he made private payments to Shawn Upshaw, a woman who had briefly been his lover in Las Vegas during the early 1970s. Upshaw later told Cosby that her daughter, Autumn Jackson, was his daughter, too, but he denied it. Cosby said he gave Upshaw a total of about $100,000 because he did not want her to publicly reveal the affair. Twenty-two-year-old Autumn Jackson was sentenced to 26 months in jail for trying to extort $40 million from Cosby.
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