William Henry "Bill" Cosby, Jr. (born July 12, 1937) is an American comedian, actor, author, television producer, educator, musician and activist. A veteran stand-up performer, he got his start at various clubs, and then landed a starring role in the 1960s action show, I Spy. He later starred in his own series, the situation comedy The Bill Cosby Show, in 1969. He was one of the major characters on the children's television series The Electric Company for its first two seasons, and created the educational cartoon comedy series Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, about a group of young friends growing up in the city. Cosby has also acted in a number of films. During the 1980s, Cosby produced and starred in what is considered to be one of the decade's defining sitcoms, The Cosby Show, which aired eight seasons from 1984 to 1992. The sitcom highlighted the experiences and growth of an upper-middle-class African-American family. He also produced the spin-off sitcom A Different World, which became second to The Cosby Showing ratings. He starred in the sitcom Cosby from 1996 to 2000 and hosted Kids Say the Darndest Things for two seasons. In 1976, Cosby earned a Doctor of Education degree from the University of Massachusetts. For his doctoral research, he wrote a dissertation entitled, "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".Cosby was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He is one of four sons born to Anna Pearl (née Hite), a maid, and William Henry Cosby, Sr., who served as a sailor in the Navy. During much of his early childhood, Cosby's father was away in the U.S. armed forces and spent several years fighting in World War II. As a student, he described himself as a class clown. Cosby was the captain of the baseball and track and field teams at Mary Channing Wister Elementary School in Philadelphia, as well as the class president. Early on, though, teachers noted his propensity for clowning around rather than studying. At Fitz Simmons Junior High, Cosby began acting in plays as well as continuing his devotion to playing sports. He went on to Central High School, an academically challenging magnet school, but his full schedule of playing football, basketball, baseball, and running track made it hard for him. In addition, Cosby was working before and after school, selling produce, shining shoes, and stocking shelves at a supermarket to help out the family. 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. Subsequently, he joined the Navy, serving at the Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, Naval Station Argentina, and Newfoundland and at the Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland. While serving in the Navy as a Hospital Corpsman for four years, Cosby worked in physical therapy with some seriously injured Korean War casualties, who helped him discover what was important to him. Then he immediately realized the need for an education, and finished his equivalency diploma via correspondence courses. He then won a track and field scholarship to Philadelphia's Temple University in 1961–62, and studied physical education while running track and playing fullback on the football team. Cosby also joined the school's chapter of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity.Cosby left Temple to pursue a career in comedy, though he would return to collegiate studies in the 1970s. He lined up gigs at clubs in Philadelphia and soon was off to New York City, where he appeared at The Gaslight Cafe starting in 1962. He lined up dates in Chicago,Las Vegas, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., and elsewhere. He received national exposure on NBC's The Tonight Show in the summer of 1963 which led to a recording contract with Warner Bros. Records, who released...
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