Bill Cosby is an American stand-up comedian, actor, author, and singer.
Let’s find out some interesting facts about him!
1. William Henry “Bill” Cosby, Jr. was born July 12, 1937 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
2. He is one of four sons of Anna Pearl, a maid, and William Henry Cosby Sr., who served as a mess steward in the U.S. Navy.
3. During much of Cosby’s early childhood, his father was away in the U.S. armed forces, spending several years serving in the theater of war in World War II.
4. 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.
5. Early on, though, teachers noted his propensity for clowning around rather than studying.
6. At FitzSimons Junior High School, Cosby began acting in plays as well as continuing his devotion to playing sports.
7. Cosby went on to Philadelphia’s Central High School, a magnet and academically rigorous university prep school where he played football, basketball, baseball, and ran track.
8. In addition, Cosby was working before and after school, selling produce, shining shoes, and stocking shelves at a supermarket to help out the family.
9. 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.
10. In 1956, Cosby enlisted in the Navy, serving at the Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, Naval Station Argentia, Newfoundland and at the Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland.
11. During his four years in the Navy, Cosby served as a Hospital Corpsman working in physical therapy with Navy and Marine Corps personnel injured during the Korean War.
12. He finished his equivalency diploma via correspondence courses and was awarded a track and field scholarship to Philadelphia’s Temple University in 1961.
13. There, he studied physical education while running track and playing fullback on the university’s football team.
14. As Cosby progressed through his undergraduate studies, he continued to hone his talent for humor, joking with fellow enlistees in the service and then with college friends. When he began bartending at a Philadelphia club to earn money, he became more aware of his ability to make people laugh.
15. After using humor on his customers and seeing his tips increase, he then took his talent to the stage.
16. Cosby left Temple to pursue a career in comedy, lining up standup jobs at clubs first in Philadelphia and then in New York City, where he appeared at The Gaslight Cafe beginning in 1961.
17. 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 comedy albums.
18. His album To Russell, My Brother, Whom I Slept With was number 1 on Spin Magazines list of “The 40 Greatest Comedy Albums of All Time”, calling it “stand-up comedy’s masterpiece”.
19. While many comics of the time were using the growing freedom of that decade to explore material that was controversial and sometimes risqué, Cosby was making his reputation with humorous recollections of his childhood.
20. Many Americans wondered about the absence of race as a topic in Cosby’s stories.
21. In 1983, he released the concert film Bill Cosby: Himself; it is widely regarded as “the greatest comedy concert film ever”.
22. Younger, well-established comics like Jerry Seinfeld have credited Cosby as an innovator both as a practitioner of the genre of standup comedy, but also as a person who paved the way for comics to break into sitcom television.
23. Cosby performed his first TV standup special in 30 years, “Bill Cosby: Far From Finished”, on Comedy Central on November 23, 2013.
24. Cosby’s last show of the “Far From Finished” tour was performed at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre in Atlanta, Georgia on May 2, 2015.
25. In 2014, Cosby was set to release his new stand-up special Bill Cosby 77 on Netflix. The release of the film was cancelled due to allegations of sexual assault.
26. Using the Fat Albert character developed during his stand-up routines, Cosby created, produced, and hosted the animated comedy television series Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, a show that ran from 1972 to 1985, centering on a group of young friends growing up in an urban area.
27. Throughout the 1970s, Cosby starred in a number of films, and he occasionally returned to film later in his career. After attending Temple University in the 1960s, he received his bachelor’s degree there in 1971.
28. In 1973, he received a master’s degree from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and in 1976, he earned his Doctor of Education degree, also from UMass. His dissertation discussed the use of Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids as a teaching tool in elementary schools.
29. Cosby has been the subject of publicized sexual assault allegations since about 2000. He has been accused by 51 women of rape, drug-facilitated sexual assault, sexual battery, child sexual abuse, and sexual misconduct, with the earliest alleged incidents taking place in the mid-1960s and the most recent in 2008. He has denied the allegations.
30. Numerous related lawsuits against Cosby are pending; and although most of the acts alleged by his accusers fall outside the statutes of limitations for criminal legal proceedings, one notable case has been ruled actionable, and he has been charged with three felony counts of aggravated indecent assault in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. He surrendered to authorities on December 30, 2015, and was released on $1 million bail. Cosby is scheduled to go on trial on or before June 5, 2017.
31. Cosby married Camille Olivia Hanks on January 25, 1964. Together, they have had five children, Erika, Erinn, Ensa, Evin, and Ennis.
32. Their only son, Ennis, was murdered on January 16, 1997, while changing a flat tire on the side of Interstate 405 in Los Angeles. The Cosbys have three grandchildren.
33. Cosby is a Protestant.
34. He maintains homes in Shelburne, Massachusetts, and Cheltenham, Pennsylvania.
35. Cosby has hosted the Los Angeles Playboy Jazz Festival since 1979. Known as a jazz drummer, he can also be seen playing bass guitar with Jerry Lewis and Sammy Davis, Jr. on Hugh Hefner’s 1970s talk show. H
36. With his wife, Cosby has collected over 300 works of African American art since 1967. The works went on display in “Conversations”, an exhibit at the National Museum of African Art in 2014. The show became controversial for mounting as sexual assault allegations against Cosby became prominent.
37. Cosby is an alumnus supporter of his alma mater, Temple University, particularly its men’s basketball team, whose games Cosby frequently attended prior to his arrest. He is also a member of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity; he was initiated in the fraternity’s Beta Alpha Alpha graduate chapter in White Plains, New York, in 1988.
38. In 2016, it was reported that Cosby is now legally blind.