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Bill Cosby
Bill Cosby Bill Cosby


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William Henry ‘Bill’ Cosby Jr was born on the 12th of July, 1937 Quite early on in his childhood, his teachers in Mary Channing Wister Elementary School in Philadelphia, Fitz Simmons Junior High and Central High School recognized his propensity for clowning around and making jokes However, Bill Cosby was also very involved in sports He played football, basketball, baseball, and was on the track team While studying, he also worked in a supermarket stocking shelves, as a shoe shine boy and sold produce to help out his family While at Germantown High School, he failed the tenth grade, and dropped out of school He then apprenticed at a shoe repair shop, but somehow could not see himself doing that for the rest of his life He joined the Navy and served at the Marine Base at Quantico, Virginia and at the Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland It was there that he realized the importance of education and he finished his equivalency diploma through correspondence courses In 1961, he won a track and field scholarship to the Temple University in Philadelphia.

There, he studied physical education and was part of the track team and the football team Throughout all this, he kept on ‘clowning around’ telling jokes and making his friends and co-workers laugh He worked in a bar called Cellar in Philadelphia and tried out his jokes with his customers and saw his tips increase He discovered his talent for making people laugh and decided to make a go of his career as a comedian while still a sophomore at the Temple University Although his parents were not at all happy with this decision, he went on to work as a stand-up comedian at several clubs across Philadelphia and later moved on to New York City There, he appeared in the Gaslight Café in 1962 He got a lot of work across America and in 1963 starred in NBC’s ‘Tonight Show’ In 1964, he released his first comedy album titled ‘Bill Cosby Is A Very Funny Fellow … Right!’ He also met his soon-to-be wife while performing in Washington DC.

where she was a student of the University of Maryland Bill Cosby and Camille were married on the 25th of January, 1964 They went on to have 5 children: a son - Ennis William and four daughters – Erika Ranee, Erin Chalene, Ensa Camille and Evin Harrah In 1965, Bill Cosby starred in ‘I Spy’, an action-adventure show in the style of James Bond and reflecting the cold war His popularity outshone the show’s lead star Robert Culp Throughout the 3-year long run of the show, Bill Cosby was always questioned by the media on his stand about racism The media wanted Cosby’s character on the show to talk about the racism issues that were at the forefront of the nation at the time However, for Cosby, it was plain that by depicting the character of a black man who was working at the same level as a white man was equivalent to a positive statement in the issue for racism In 1969, he starred in ‘The Bill Cosby Show’ It was a sit-com and ran for two seasons.

Meanwhile, Bill Cosby still harbored his educational dreams and finished his BA from Temple University and followed it up with an MA in 1972 and an EdD in 1977 from University of Massachusetts Bill Cosby was very interested in education and this led to his involvement with creating several educational series for children: namely ‘The Electric Train’ series for PBS and the highly popular Saturday morning show called ‘Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids’ This show was used by some schools as a teaching tool also became the topic for his doctorate degree in education His thesis was titled ‘An Integration of the Visual Media via Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids into the Elementary School Curriculum as a Teaching Aid and Vehicle to Achieve Increased Learning’ He also ventured into starring in comedy films such as ‘Uptown Saturday Night’ in 1974 and ‘Lets Do It Again’ in 1975 Although these films were successful, there were others that were not Bill Cosby was always more successful on television than on film His comedy routines focused more on amusing anecdotes from his early life and were suitable for children as well.

Even there, he came under the media’s glaring eye for not portraying a more accepted lifestyle of the African American community, or for not discussing the issues of racism But Bill Cosby always maintained a controversial stand about these issues In 1984, Bill Cosby was again thrown into the limelight with the resounding success of his show ‘The Cosby Show’ which was a sit-com It showed a set of college educated parents with five kids and had lots of parallels to his own family life The family in the show was intelligent and affluent and an absolutely non-stereotypical African American family In 1992, when this show went off the air, he starred in several movies and shows where he retained his charming personality In 1996, he starred in a show called ‘Cosby’ where he played a character called Hilton Lucas who is an iconoclast and a senior citizen, looking for a job after being downsized and gets on the nerves of his wife In 1997, Bill Cosby and his family suffered a tragic loss of their son who was shot to death while changing a flat tire on the side of a Los Angeles freeway In 1998, he became the host of ‘Kids Say the Damndest Things’ Bill Cosby was always the center for the fury of the media for not taking up the issue of racism in his shows However, he maintained that by portraying characters in his shows that lived and worked side-by-side with other white characters was enough to show that racism could be overcome.

He also addressed the African American community and exhorted them to lay stress on education, self respect and self improvement rather than on sports and fashion He called for parents to educate their children on the various aspects of African American culture and teaching their children better morals at a younger age He took a stand that African American people should focus on how they can help themselves and make their lives better, rather than focusing on the ill-treatment that they had received in the past The famous ‘Pound Cake Speech’ in 2004 is a case in point Bill Cosby had also come under the media’s hard eye in 1997 when Autumn Jackson, a 22 year old woman, claimed that she was his daughter and tried to extort $40 million from him Although, Bill Cosby admitted to having a one-time fling with her mother, he disputed the paternity claim She was found guilty and sentenced to 26 months in jail In 2006, the media also claimed that Bill Cosby had settled a lawsuit against a woman who claimed that he had sexually assaulted and molested her The same time, 12 other women claimed the same thing But no one came forward and filed a lawsuit.

This brief biography on Bill Cosby outlines his life and his career achievements and tries to focus on the important aspects of his life Although funny and parental, Cosby was always focused on education and using the media of television to impart education to children He was also very firm in his stand about showing how people could deal with the issues of racism, rather than just protesting about it In that he shows a very proactive pursuit towards creating an open environment for all human beings in the world The Bill Cosby biography also focuses on the sometimes unpalatable and controversial aspects of his life However, being a person in the spotlight of the media, this is sometimes inevitable.



 
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