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Bill Cosby

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Bill Cosby

Born : 12 July 1937
City : Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
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Bill Cosby Biography

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.

Early life
U.S. Navy photo of Cosby

Cosby was born on July 12, 1937 and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He is one of four sons born to Anna Pearl (nee 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.

Stand-up career

Cosby left Temple to pursue a career in comedy, though he would return to collegiate studies in the 1970s. He lined up standup jobs at clubs in Philadelphia and soon was off to New York City, where he appeared at The Gaslight Cafe starting in 1962. He lined up dates in Chicago, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and elsewhere. He received national exposure on NBC's The Tonight Show in the summer of 1963. This led to a recording contract with Warner Bros. Records, who, in 1964, released his debut LP Bill Cosby Is a Very Funny Fellow...Right!, the first of a series of popular comedy albums.

Acting career

In 1965, when he was cast alongside Robert Culp in the I Spy espionage adventure series, Cosby became the first African-American co-star in a dramatic television series, and NBC became the first to present a series so cast. At first Cosby and NBC executives were concerned that some affiliates might be unwilling to carry the series. At the beginning of the 1965 season, four stations declined the show; they were in Georgia, Florida, and Alabama.

Socioeconomic views

In May 2004, after receiving an award at the celebration of the 50th Anniversary commemoration of the Brown v. Board of Education ruling—a ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court that outlawed racial segregation in schools—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, pleading for African-American families to educate their children on the many different aspects of American culture.

Humanitarian causes

Cosby has become an active member of The Jazz Foundation of America. Cosby became involved with the foundation in 2004. For several years, he has been a featured host for its annual benefit, A Great Night in Harlem, at the Apollo Theater in New York City.

Personal life

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.

Lawsuits

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.
Numerous women have accused Cosby of rape or sexual assault. In November 2006, Cosby settled a lawsuit filed by a Canadian woman who said he had drugged and sexually assaulted her in his Philadelphia home in 2004.

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