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Many comedians start their career trawling round clubs on the stand Up circuit. Bill Cosby also served his apprenticeship in this way, developing his humorous observational routines. He would return regularly to the live stage throughout his long career of TV and film work.
The comic actor was born in 1937 in Philadelphia and graduated to television stardom when he secured the role of Alexander Scott in the series, I Spy. The show ran from 1965-1968 and co-starred Robert Culp as a fellow secret agent, working for the Pentagon. It was unusual at the time for an African American to have a starring role in a prime time TV series.
Situation comedy followed in 1969 when Cosby starred in The Bill Cosby Show. He played a physical education teacher called Chet Kincaid for two years. The show was set in a Los Angeles high school and DVDs are available for both seasons.
The next project was a children's animated TV series called Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids. In addition to conceiving the idea, producing the show and appearing as host in live action segments, Cosby also supplied the voice for several characters. The series enjoyed a successful, twelve year run and there were some specials made. Music for the show was provided by jazz keyboardist, Herbie Hancock. The series was praised for its educational messages, addressing issues such as playing truant, smoking, racism, gun violence and drug abuse. DVDs of this show are also available.
The star is best known for his comedy series, The Cosby Show, which ran from 1984-1992. Bill Cosby played Cliff Huxtable, a doctor who was married to a lawyer called Claire. The episodes told the everyday story of a professional couple with children, living in Brooklyn. Again, this was pioneering television in its depiction of an upper middle class African American family. The show was top rating and won Emmy and Golden Globe awards.
Cosby had a lot of input into the storylines, especially those involving his fictional son Theo. He drew ideas from real life situations in the life of his real life son, Ennis. Cosby has a long marriage to Camille and they had five children together. Sadly, Ennis was robbed and shot dead. Cosby continues to make TV appearances and also campaigns for the improvement of education and literacy levels amongst the African American community. Bill Cosby will be remembered for his promotion of positive, African American role models on mainstream shows.
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