Born William Henry “Bill Cosby” Jr. on July 12, 1937 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he describes himself mostly as a “class clown” during his school years. He was class president as well as captain of the basketball team at school. He acted in a number of school plays and in addition to all his extra-curricular activities, he was working before and after school doing odd jobs such as selling produce, working at the supermarket and shining shoes to help his family stay afloat. At one of his schools, he failed the tenth grade and got a job at a shoe repair shop. After a while, he like his father joined the Navy. While in the Navy, Cosby served at a hospital with severely injured Korean War casualties and worked with them in the physical therapy unit for four years. He also finished his diploma by taking courses and headed towards a obtaining an undergraduate degree. While doing so, he bar tended to earn money and continued to joke around with his customers. Seeing that this increased his tips, he ventured towards stand-up comedy.
After securing dates in Chicago, LA, Washington D.C. and San Francisco, he finally got national exposure in 1963. This helped him get Warner Bros. Records’ attention and they signed a contract with him. His stand-up career then transformed into filmography. This began with I Spy Espionage adventure series in 1965. He starred opposite Robert Culp and was the first African-American to be in a dramatic series. He received three consecutive Emmy Awards for Outstanding Actor in Drama Series for his performance on the show. In 1969, Cosby started his show titled “The Bill Cosby Show” which was ranked eleventh after the first season ended. Cosby played a physical education teacher at a high school and was recognized for his work as he used previously unknown African-American actors such as Lillian Randolph and Rex Ingram.
Bill Cosby returned to school after the show ended and started at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He did graduate work there and for The Electric Company, a PBS series, he was seen recording many scenes teaching reading and comprehension skills to young people. He tried his hand at a revamped version of The Bill Cosby Show afterward, but that received poor ratings. However, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, another show hosted by Bill Cosby himself did very well. It ran for five years from 1972 to 1979 and changed its name to The Adventures of Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids in 1984. Schools took this show as a teaching tool and this eventually led to Bill Cosby writing a dissertation. Temple University, where Bill Cosby had started his undergraduate degree but never finished, granted him a Bachelor’s Degree based on the experiences he had. His big break came with the Cosby Show in 1984. The show portrayed Bill Cosby’s family life and was loved by all who watched. Eventually he starred in many shows and films like You Bet Your Life (1992 – 1993), The Cosby Mysteries (1994), The Meteor Man (1993), and Jack (1996).
He became affiliated with The Jazz Foundation of America in 2004 and has hosted its annual benefit. He was also given an award at the 50th Anniversary commemoration of the Brown v. Board of Education ruling, after which he made his stance on education and parenting clear. This ruling was done to outlaw racial segregation in schools. He currently lectures in churches and highlights issues such as drugs, teenage pregnancies, high school dropouts, anti-intellectualism and similar societal vices.