Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Dr. William Henry Cosby, Jr., (born July 12, 1937) is an African American actor and comedian. His sitcom, The Cosby Show was very successful, and notable for being one of the first to star a well-to-do middle-class African-American family. During the 1980s, Cosby was among the highest paid entertainers in the United States. His popularity has diminished somewhat in recent years, but Cosby remains an icon of popular culture.
Cosby was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at North Philadelphia's Germantown Hospital at 3:00 A.M. He joined the United States Navy in tenth grade and completed high school through correspondence courses. Later, he won an athletic scholarship to Temple University. After working as a bartender for several years, he began his career as a stand-up comic, winning fame for his performances and a series of record albums beginning in 1963. As a comedian, Cosby told stories rather than jokes. His breakout routine as an imagined conversation between God and a skeptical Noah, but Cosby found his richest vein of humor in his Philadelphia childhood, particularly in tales about his friends Fat Albert and Old Weird Harold.
TV producer Sheldon Leonard landed Cosby a break-out television role in I Spy (1965), the first time an African-American actor starred in a weekly dramatic television series. Cosby won two Emmy Awards for his portrayal of an undercover CIA agent.
Cosby then appeared in a series of shows named after himself: The Bill Cosby Show, The New Bill Cosby Show, the animated Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, Cos, The Cosby Show, The Cosby Mysteries, and Cosby (based upon the British series One Foot In The Grave). He has producer, writer, director and even composer credits on many of his projects.
Bill Cosby was a regular on the Captain Kangaroo show in the 1980s, presenting the "Picture Pages" segment which was later syndicated on its own.
He won several Grammy awards for comedy albums, had a top forty song ("Little Old Man") in 1969, and sang on a number of albums. He won more Grammies for comedy than any other artist, winning every year from 1965 to 1970 and again in 1987. As of 2005, he had 3 gold- and 6 platinum-certified comedy albums. He has also written several humorous books about different aspects of life, based on his stand-up comedy such as Fatherhood and Love and Marriage. In fact, Fatherhood and Time Flies were the best selling non-fiction hardback books of 1986 and 1987, respectively.
Cosby has also made occasional forays into film acting, but the critical and popular success which came so abundantly to his stage and television work has not blessed his movie performances: his natural charisma has often been undermined by mediocre scripts in films like The Devil and Max Devlin (1981) and Ghost Dad (1990), and the notorious flop Leonard Part 6 (1987), although his work in ensemble casts in Uptown Saturday Night and Let's Do it Again, a pair of productions headed up by Sidney Poitier in the mid-1970s, received favorable reviews.
Cosby earned a doctorate in education from the University of Massachusetts in 1977: his thesis concerned the use of the Fat Albert series as a teaching aid. He has attempted to integrate education with television in some projects, such as Picture Pages, where Cosby taught children how to draw in a series of shorts aired by PBS. Notably, he structured the 80's Cosby family to represent children at all ages, and the addition of Sandra as a Princeton-educated lawyer is meant to show how good parenting and education of children leads to success. The Cosby Show also served as a vehicle to raise issues of drugs, illiteracy, teen pregnancy, and gang violence. He is now a leading educational philanthropist.
He hosted the television program, "Kids Say the Darndest Things", which aired from 1996 through 2002.
He is married to Camille Hanks and they have four daughters. Their only son Ennis Cosby, aged 27, was murdered on January 16, 1997, while changing a flat tire in Los Angeles, California. On March 12, 1997 Mikail Markhasev was arrested in Los Angeles and charged with the attempted robbery and shooting of Ennis.
Cosby currently maintains a home in Shelburne, Massachusetts.
Starting in 2004, Cosby publicly denounced black communities for having low standards in allowing fatherless single parent households, high crime rates, and high illiteracy rates. He further stated that it was up to the black community to fix its own problems. He expanded upon his remarks in San Jose, CA during an event to promote the Read-2-Lead Classic. Anger over his remarks continued, but often the validity of what Cosby said wasn't in question (U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) has made similar remarks regarding the decline of the African-American family), it was the forum that was the issue.
In May 2004 Cosby made public remarks critical of low-income African Americans whom he believed to be deprioritizing education in favor of sports and fashion. As a result, Cosby came under sharp criticism, however he was largely unapologetic for his stance. Cosby made similar remarks during a speech on July 1 at a Rainbow Coalition meeting commemorating the anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education. During that speech, he admonished struggling young men to "stop beating up your wife because you can't find a job" and stated that African-Americans had forgotten the sacrifices of those in the Civil Rights Movement. The talk was interrupted several times by applause and received praise from leaders such as Jesse Jackson.
In 1997, Cosby was the target of allegations from Autumn Jackson, a young woman who claimed she was his daughter. In court, Cosby testified that he had sex with Jackson's mother on one occasion. Cosby further admitted he gave financial support to Jackson's mother. Cosby said he told Jackson he would be a father figure to her, but that he was not her father. Autumn Jackson was later convicted on extortion charges.
In January 2005 a woman alleged she was drugged and fondled by Cosby. The woman made the allegations nine months after it allegedly took place. In a statement from Cosby's publicist, Cosby's attorney said, "the charges are categorically false and we have no further comment."
In February 2005 a second woman, California lawyer Tamara Green (maiden name Lucia), came forward alleging that in the 1970s she was drugged and groped by Cosby. She claims that as she slipped under the influence of the drug, Cosby attempted to undress her, and as she grew to understand what was occurring she stated that if he tried to rape her he would have to kill her. Upon realizing she would not, in her words, "be put into submission," he left her in her apartment with two one-hundred-dollar bills. Cosby's attorney continues to deny any merit to the allegations, claiming "Mr. Cosby does not have any knowledge of a woman named Tamara Green or Tamara Lucia."
"Human beings are the only creatures that allow their children to come back home and be happy."
"I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody."
"Our children are angry. The profanity is out in the street. It's on the buses and in the subway. Our children are trying to tell us something, and we are not listening,"
- Bill Cosby is a Very Funny Fellow--Right! 1963
- I Started Out as a Child 1964
- Why is there air? 1965
- Wonderfulness 1966
- Revenge 1967
- To Russell, My Brother, Whom I Slept With 1968
- 200 mph ~1970
- Himself (Also released as a movie) 1982
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