Born: July 12, 1937
Date of Birth: July 12, 1937
After finishing 10th grade, Bill joined the Navy and later earned his high school diploma through a correspondence course. He would go on to attend Temple University on an athletic scholarship, but eventually dropped out to become a stand-up comedian.
Bill’s first big break was in 1965, when he landed a co-starring role opposite Robert Culp on the action/adventure TV series I Spy. He won three consecutive Emmys for his performance as Alexander Scott on the show. When the show concluded in 1968, Bill drew on inspiration from his own life to create the sitcom The Bill Cosby Show. Making its debut in 1969, it marked the first time an African American starred on his own comedy show. The show would last two seasons.
Bill also created the animated TV series Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids (1972-1985), based on the animated TV movie Hey, Hey, Hey, It's Fat Albert (1969). The Saturday afternoon cartoon, which premiered in 1972, was based on friends from Bill's childhood. Although the show was a comedy, it also delivered an educational message in each episode.
Before his sitcoms really started to take off, Bill released several comedy albums. He won a total of 10 Grammys over the span of his career. In 2012, Cosby won the Grammy Hall of Fame award, which honors recordings of historical significance dating back 25 years.
He made a return to the sitcom world with The Cosby Show in 1984, which went on to air on NBC for eight very successful seasons, until it came to an end in 1992. The show revolved around an African-American middle class family. What made this show unique was the fact that each character shared some traits with their real-life counterparts.
The show quickly became the most popular sitcom on television, winning six Emmys and three Golden Globes. Still to this day, the show remains one of three television programs that was number one in Nielsen rating for five consecutive seasons. Cosby would later be inducted into the Television Hall of Fame.
In addition, Bill has written numerous books, including his 1986 bestseller Fatherhood.
In 2014, Bill made headlines, but this time for all the wrong reasons. More than 40 women came forward and publicly accused Cosby of sexual misconduct, dating back almost 40 years. The comedian continues to claim he is innocent. These allegations led NBC and Netflix to drop projects they had in the works with the comedian.
A year later, a warrant was issued for Cosby’s arrest, with three counts of aggravated assault in the case of Former Temple University employee Andrea Constand. She accused Cosby of assaulting her in his home back in 2004.
Cosby has been married to his wife Camille since 1964 and they have four daughters. While working on the sitcom Cosby (1996-2000), the comedian experienced a terrible tragedy when his only son, Ennis, was shot to death on January 16, 1997 while changing a tire on his car in Los Angeles during a failed robbery attempt.
Bill also appeared in various commercials throughout his career, including his well-known stint as the spokesperson for Jell-O for 25 years.
Bill received a degree from Temple, as well as two advanced degrees in education from the University of Massachusetts: a master’s degree in 1972 and a Doctor of Education degree in 1977. ~Brenden Zerihun
Filmography:Lightning in a Bottle (2004)