B Bill Cosby
2011 Bill Cosby.jpg
Cosby in 2011
Born William Henry Cosby, Jr.
July 12, 1937 (age 79)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Alma mater Temple University (1971)
Occupation Actor, comedian, author
Years active 1961–present
Spouse(s) Camille Hanks (m. 1964)
Children 5, including Erika Cosby, Ennis Cosby
Medium Stand-up comedy, film, television
Genres Observational comedy, satire, surreal humor, deadpan
William Henry "Bill" Cosby Jr. (born July 12, 1937) is an American stand-up comedian, actor, and author. His start in stand-up comedy began at the hungry i in San Francisco and was followed by his landing a starring role in the 1960s television show I Spy. He was also a regular on the children's television series The Electric Company during the show's first two seasons.
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. 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. 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.
Beginning in the 1980s, Cosby produced and starred in a television sitcom, The Cosby Show, which aired from 1984 to 1992 and was rated as the number one show in America for five years, 1984 through 1989. The sitcom highlighted the experiences and growth of an affluent African-American family. Cosby produced the Cosby Show spin-off sitcom A Different World, which aired from 1987 to 1993, starred in The Cosby Mysteries from 1994 to 1995, starred in the sitcom Cosby from 1996 to 2000; and hosted Kids Say the Darndest Things for two seasons, from 1998 to 2000.
Cosby has been the subject of sexual assault allegations, the earliest of which date back decades but becoming highly publicized since about 2014. 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. 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.
1 Early life
2 Stand-up career
3 Acting career
3.1 I Spy
3.2 Fat Albert, The Bill Cosby Show, and the 1970s
3.3 The Cosby Show and the 1980s
3.4 1990s and 2000s
4 Sexual assault allegations
5 Political views
6 Personal life
6.1 Autumn Jackson extortion trial
7 Awards and honors
7.3 Honorary degrees
7.3.1 Revoked Honorary degrees
8.1.1 Comedy albums
8.1.2 Music albums
Cosby in 1957
Cosby was born on July 12, 1937 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He is one of four sons of Anna Pearl (née Hite), a maid, and William Henry Cosby Sr., who served as a mess steward in the U.S. Navy. 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. 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.[better source needed] Early on, though, teachers noted his propensity for clowning around rather than studying. At FitzSimons Junior High School, Cosby began acting in plays as well as continuing his devotion to playing sports.
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. 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.
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. 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.
He finished his equivalency diploma via correspondence courses and was awarded a track and field scholarship to Philadelphia's Temple University in 1961. There, he studied physical education while running track and playing fullback on the university's football team. 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. After using humor on his customers and seeing his tips increase, he then took his talent to the stage.
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. He booked dates in cities such as Chicago, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Washington, D.C.. 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. 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".
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. Many Americans wondered about the absence of race as a topic in Cosby's stories. As Cosby's success grew he had to defend his choice of material regularly; as he argued, "A white person listens to my act and he laughs and he thinks, 'Yeah, that's the way I see it too.' Okay. He's white. I'm Negro. And we both see things the same way. That must mean that we are alike. Right? So I figure this way I'm doing as much for good race relations as the next guy."
In 1983, he released the concert film Bill Cosby: Himself; it is widely regarded as "the greatest comedy concert film ever". 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. Seinfeld said of Cosby: "He opened a door for all of us, for all of the networks to even consider that this was a way to create a character, was to take someone who can hold an audience just by being up there and telling their story. He created that. He created the whole idea of taking a quote-unquote 'comic' and developing a TV show just from a persona that you see onstage." Comedian Larry Wilmore also saw a connection between Bill Cosby: Himself and the later success of The Cosby Show, saying: "It's clear that the concert is the template for The Cosby Show."
Cosby performed his first TV standup special in 30 years, "Bill Cosby: Far From Finished", on Comedy Central on November 23, 2013. 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.
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.
In 1965, Cosby was cast alongside Robert Culp in the I Spy espionage adventure series on NBC. I Spy became the first weekly dramatic television series to feature an African-American in a starring role. At first, Cosby and NBC executives were concerned that some affiliates might be unwilling to carry the series. At the beginning of the 1965 season, four stations declined the show; they were in Georgia, Florida, and Alabama. Viewers were taken with the show's exotic locales and the authentic chemistry between the stars, and it became one of the ratings hits of that television season. I Spy finished among the twenty most-watched shows that year, and Cosby would be honored with three consecutive Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series. When accepting his third Emmy for the show, Cosby told the audience: "Let the message be known to bigots and racists that they don’t count!"
During the run of the series, Cosby continued to do stand-up comedy performances and recorded a half-dozen record albums for Warner Bros. Records. He also began to dabble in singing, recording Silver Throat: Bill Cosby Sings in 1967.
In June 1968, Billboard reported that Cosby had turned down a five-year, US$3.5 million contract renewal offer and would leave the label in August that year to record for his own record label.
In July 1968, Cosby narrated "Black History: Lost, Stolen, or Strayed", a CBS documentary addressing the representation of blacks in popular culture. Andy Rooney wrote the Emmy awarded script for Bill Cosby to read. Michael Eric Dyson said it was one of "the rare exceptions when Cosby took off the gloves and blinders, to discuss race in public with candor and discernment." Due to its popularity and controversial nature, it was rebroadcast less than a month later.
Tetragrammaton Records was a division of the Campbell, Silver, Cosby (CSC) Corporation, the Los Angeles-based production company founded by Cosby, his manager Roy Silver, and filmmaker Bruce Post Campbell. It produced films as well as records, including Cosby's television specials, the Fat Albert cartoon special and series and several motion pictures. CSC hired Artie Mogull as President of the label and Tetragrammaton was fairly active during 1968–69 (its most successful signing was British heavy rock band Deep Purple) but it quickly went into the red and ceased trading during 1970.
Fat Albert, The Bill Cosby Show, and the 1970s
Cosby in 1969
Cosby pursued a variety of additional television projects and appeared as a regular guest host on The Tonight Show and as the star of an annual special for NBC. He returned with another series in 1969, The Bill Cosby Show, a situation comedy that ran for two seasons. Cosby played a physical education teacher at a Los Angeles high school. While only a modest critical success, the show was a ratings hit, finishing eleventh in its first season. Cosby was lauded for using African-American performers such as Lillian Randolph, Moms Mabley, and Rex Ingram as characters. According to commentary on the Season 1 DVDs for the show, Cosby was at odds with NBC over his refusal to include a laugh track in the show (he felt that viewers had the ability to find humor for themselves when watching a TV show).
After The Bill Cosby Show left the air, Cosby returned to his education. He began graduate work at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. For the PBS series The Electric Company, Cosby recorded several segments teaching reading skills to young children.
In 1972, Cosby received an MA from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was also back in prime time with a variety series, The New Bill Cosby Show. However, this time he met with poor ratings, and the show lasted only a season. More successful was a Saturday morning show, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, hosted by Cosby and based on his own childhood. That series ran from 1972 to 1979, and as The New Fat Albert Show in 1979 and The Adventures of Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids in 1984. Cosby wrote a dissertation on it, "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", as partial fulfillment of obtaining his 1976 doctorate in education, also from the University of Massachusetts. Subsequently, Temple University, where Cosby had begun but never finished his undergraduate studies, would grant him his bachelor's degree on the basis of "life experience."
Also, during the 1970s, Cosby and other African-American actors, including Sidney Poitier, joined forces to make some successful comedy films that countered the violent "blaxploitation" films of the era. Uptown Saturday Night (1974) and Let's Do It Again (1975) were generally praised, but much of Cosby's film work has fallen flat. Mother, Jugs & Speed (1976), co-starring Raquel Welch and Harvey Keitel; A Piece of the Action, with Poitier; and California Suite, a compilation of four Neil Simon plays, were all panned. In addition, Cos (1976) an hour-long variety show featuring puppets, sketches, and musical numbers, was canceled within a year. It was during this season that ABC decided to take advantage of this phase of Cosby's career by associating with Filmation (producers of Fat Albert) in creating live-action segments starring Cosby for the 1964/1971 animated film Journey Back to Oz, which made its network premiere on Christmas 1976, and aired, subsequently, in syndication. Cosby was also a regular on children's public television programs starting in the 1970s, hosting the "Picture Pages" segments that lasted into the early 1980s.
The Cosby Show and the 1980s
Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame awarded in 1977
Main articles: The Cosby Show and Bill Cosby in advertising
Cosby's greatest television success came in September 1984 with the debut of The Cosby Show. Cosby is an advocate for humor that is family-oriented. While working on The Cosby Show he held creative control, co-produced the series and involved himself in every aspect of production. Plots were often based on ideas that Cosby suggested while in meetings with the writing staff. The show had parallels to Cosby's actual family life: like the characters Cliff and Clair Huxtable, Cosby and his wife Camille were college educated, financially successful, and had five children. On the show, Cosby played the role of an obstetrician.
Much of the material from the pilot and first season of The Cosby Show was taken from his video Bill Cosby: Himself, released in 1983. The series was an immediate success, debuting near the top of the ratings and staying there for most of its long run.
In 1987, Cosby attempted to return to film with the spy spoof Leonard Part 6. Although Cosby himself was producer and wrote the story, he realized during production that the film was not going to be what he wanted and publicly denounced it, warning audiences to stay away.
1990s and 2000s
Cosby, a production assistant, and Ginna Marston of Partnership for Drug-Free Kids review the script for a 1990 public service spot at Cosby's studio in Astoria, Queens.
After The Cosby Show went off the air in 1992, Cosby embarked on a number of other projects, including a revival of the classic Groucho Marx game show You Bet Your Life (1992–93) along with the TV-movie I Spy Returns (1994) and The Cosby Mysteries (1994). In the mid-1990s, he appeared as a detective in black-and-white film noir-themed commercials for Turner Classic Movies. He made appearances in three more films: Ghost Dad (1990), The Meteor Man (1993), and Jack (1996). In addition, he was interviewed in Spike Lee's 4 Little Girls (1997), a documentary about the 1963 racist bombing of a church in Birmingham, Alabama.
Also in 1996, he started up a new show for CBS, Cosby, again co-starring Phylicia Rashād, his onscreen wife on The Cosby Show. Cosby co-produced the show for Carsey-Werner Productions. It centered on Cosby as Hilton Lucas, an iconoclastic senior citizen who tries to find a new job after being downsized and, in the meantime, gets on his wife's nerves. Madeline Kahn costarred as Rashād's goofy business partner Pauline. Cosby was hired by CBS to be the official spokesman of the WWJ-TV during an advertising campaign from 1995 to 1998. Cosby hosted a CBS special, Kids Say the Darndest Things on February 6, 1995, which was followed after as a full season show, with Cosby as host, from January 9, 1998, to June 23, 2000. After four seasons, Cosby was canceled. Its last episode aired April 28, 2000. Kids Say the Darndest Things was terminated the same year.
A series for preschoolers, Little Bill, made its debut on Nickelodeon in 1999. The network renewed the popular program in November 2000. In 2001, Cosby's agenda included the publication of a new book, as well as delivering the commencement addresses at Morris Brown College, Ohio State University, and at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Also that year, he signed a deal with 20th Century Fox to develop a live-action feature film centering on the popular Fat Albert character from his 1970s cartoon series. Fat Albert was released in theaters in December 2004. In May 2007, he spoke at the commencement of High Point University.
In the summer of 2009, Cosby hosted a comedy gala at Montreal's Just for Laughs, which is the largest comedy festival in the world.
Cosby received the National Football Foundation's Gold Medal in 2010
A new NBC show, that was scheduled for summer or autumn 2015, created by Mike O'Malley and Mike Sikowitz and to have been produced by The Cosby Show's Tom Werner, was set to feature Cosby as Jonathan Franklin, the patriarch of a multi-generational family. On November 19, 2014, NBC scrapped Cosby's new show after accusations that he sexually assaulted women resurfaced.
Reruns of The Cosby Show have been canceled as a result of the sexual assault allegations against Cosby. On November 19, 2014, TV Land and NBC both ended their relationships with Cosby: TV Land announced that it was pulling reruns from its schedule and also removing clips of the show from its website. In December 2014, the Magic Johnson-owned Aspire removed the series from its lineup. In July 2015, broadcast network Bounce TV pulled reruns, and BET's Centric (another Viacom unit) stopped airing reruns. The show is still available on Hulu Plus.
In late 2014, Cosby's agency since 2012, Creative Artists Agency, dropped him as a client.
Sexual assault allegations
Main article: Bill Cosby sexual assault allegations
An anti-Bill Cosby protest in Kitchener, Canada
Cosby has been the subject of publicized sexual assault allegations. With the earliest alleged incidents allegedly taking place in the mid-1960s, Cosby has been accused by more than 50 women of either rape, drug facilitated sexual assault, sexual battery, child sexual abuse, and/or sexual misconduct. Earlier sexual assault allegations against Cosby became more public after an October 2014 accusation as part of an onstage performance by comedian Hannibal Buress went viral, and many additional claims were made after that date. The dates of the alleged incidents span from 1965 to 2008 across 10 U.S. states and one Canadian province.
Cosby has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. In November 2014, Cosby said in response to a question about the allegations: "I don't talk about it." Cosby has declined to publicly discuss the accusations in past interviews. However, he told Florida Today, "people shouldn't have to go through that and shouldn't answer to innuendos". In May 2015, he said, "I have been in this business 52 years and I've never seen anything like this. Reality is a situation and I can't speak."
Most of the alleged acts fall outside the statutes of limitations for criminal legal proceedings, but numerous civil lawsuits have been brought against Cosby. As of November 2015, eight related civil lawsuits are active against Cosby, including two that also target Cosby's lawyer and one that also implicates his wife and manager Camille Cosby. In a December 11, 2015, interview, Gloria Allred who is representing 33 alleged victims, said that there are more alleged victims who have contacted her and that some of those who had contacted her would be coming forward. In July 2015, court records from Andrea Constand's 2005 civil lawsuit against Cosby were unsealed and released to the public. In his testimony, Cosby admitted to casual sex, involving use of Quaaludes, with a series of young women, including an admission that his use of drugs in the 1970s was illegal.
In the wake of the allegations, numerous organizations have severed ties with the comedian, and previously awarded honors and titles have been revoked. Reruns of The Cosby Show and other shows featuring Cosby have also been pulled from syndication by many organizations. More than a dozen colleges and universities have rescinded his honorary degrees. In an attempt to explain the backlash against Cosby, Adweek reporter Jason Lynch noted that the "media landscape has changed considerably—and has now been joined by the far-less-forgiving social media arena."
On December 30, 2015, Cosby was charged with sexual assault in Pennsylvania and a warrant for his arrest was issued. Cosby reported to court and was arraigned on the charge. On May 24, 2016, a Pennsylvania judge ruled that there was enough evidence for the case to go to trial. Cosby will remain free on $1 million bail until his trial. Each charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years; the sentences could be served either concurrently or consecutively as determined by a sentencing judge, if Cosby is convicted. Cosby's trial is scheduled to start on June 5, 2017.
Cosby at Frederick Douglass High School in Atlanta, Georgia, in 2006
Main article: Pound Cake speech
In May 2004, after receiving an award at the celebration of the 50th anniversary commemoration of the Brown v. Board of Education ruling—a ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court that outlawed racial segregation in schools—Cosby made public remarks critical of African Americans who put higher priorities on sports, fashion, and "acting hard" than on education, self-respect, and self-improvement, pleading for African-American families to educate their children on the many different aspects of American culture.
In the "Pound Cake" speech, Cosby asked that African-American parents teach their children better morals at a younger age. As reported in The Washington Times, Cosby "told reporters during a special session of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 34th annual legislative conference" that "Parenting needs to come to the forefront. If you need help and you don't know how to parent, we want to be able to reach out and touch you." Richard Leiby of The Washington Post reported, "Bill Cosby was anything but politically correct in his remarks Monday night at a Constitution Hall bash commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision."
Cosby again came under sharp criticism and was again largely unapologetic for his stance when he made similar remarks during a speech at a July 1 meeting commemorating the anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education. During that speech, he admonished apathetic blacks for not assisting or concerning themselves with the individuals who are involved with crime or have counter-productive aspirations. He further described those who needed attention as blacks who "had forgotten the sacrifices of those in the Civil Rights Movement."
In 2005, Georgetown University sociology professor Michael Eric Dyson wrote a book, Is Bill Cosby Right? Or Has the Black Middle Class Lost Its Mind? In the book, Dyson wrote that Cosby was overlooking larger social factors that reinforce poverty and associated crime; factors such as deteriorating schools, stagnating wages, dramatic shifts in the economy, offshoring and downsizing, chronic underemployment, and job and capital flight. Dyson suggested that Cosby's comments "betray classist, elitist viewpoints rooted in generational warfare."
Cornel West defended Cosby and his remarks, saying, "he's speaking out of great compassion and trying to get folk to get on the right track, 'cause we've got some brothers and sisters who are not doing the right things, just like in times in our own lives, we don't do the right thing... He is trying to speak honestly and freely and lovingly, and I think that's a very positive thing."
In a 2008 interview, Cosby mentioned Atlanta; Chicago; Detroit; Oakland, California; Philadelphia; and Springfield, Massachusetts among the cities where crime was high and young African-American men were being murdered and jailed in disproportionate numbers. Cosby stood his ground against criticism and affirmed that African-American parents were continuing to fail to inculcate proper standards of moral behavior.
Cosby has also been vocally critical of conservative Republican politicians in regard to their views on socioeconomic and racial issues. In a 2013 CNN interview regarding voting rights, Cosby stated "this Republican Party is not the Republican Party of 1863, of Abraham Lincoln, abolitionists and slavery, is not good. I think it's important for us to look at the underlying part of it. What is the value of it? Is it that some people are angry because my people no longer want to work for free?"
Cosby married Camille Olivia Hanks on January 25, 1964. Together, they have had five children, Erika, Erinn, Ensa, Evin, and Ennis. 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.
Cosby is a Protestant. He maintains homes in Shelburne, Massachusetts, and Cheltenham, Pennsylvania.
Cosby hosted the Los Angeles Playboy Jazz Festival from 1979 to 2012 (George Lopez has hosted the event since then). 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. His story, "The Regular Way", was featured in Playboy's December 1968 issue. Cosby has become an active member of The Jazz Foundation of America. Cosby became involved with the foundation in 2004. For several years, he has been a featured host for its annual benefit, A Great Night in Harlem, at the Apollo Theater in New York City. Cosby has stated many times in his stand-up shows that "kids these days don't know what the jazz is all about".
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.
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.
In 2016, it was reported by Cosby's attorney's that he is now allegedly legally blind. In an April 2017 interview with the National Newspaper Publishers Association (an interview he only agreed to do as long as the NNPA portrayed him in a positive light), both Cosby and a former publicist of his confirmed this, noting he lost his sight at some point in 2015.
Autumn Jackson extortion trial
During Autumn Jackson's extortion trial in July 1997, Cosby testified that he made private payments to Shawn Upshaw, a woman who had briefly been his lover in Las Vegas during the early 1970s. Upshaw later told Cosby that he was the father of her daughter, Autumn Jackson. Cosby denies being the father and said that he gave Upshaw a total of about $100,000 because he did not want her to publicly reveal the affair. Twenty-two-year-old Autumn Jackson was sentenced to 26 months in jail for trying to extort US$40 million from Cosby. In the trial and subsequent appeal, the courts held that Jackson's belief that she was Cosby's child—even if sincere—was irrelevant to the question of her guilt. The courts stated that the mere fact that she was Cosby's child would not have entitled her to the $40 million she demanded, and therefore the demand was extortionate, whether or not she believed herself to be Cosby's daughter. Although both Jackson and Cosby stated at various times that they were willing to undergo DNA testing to determine Jackson's paternity, the two sides never reached an agreement as to when and how to perform the test. After Jackson's conviction, Cosby provided a blood sample for testing, but Jackson refused to participate until after her sentencing.
Awards and honors
1998: Received the Kennedy Center Honor.
2002: The scholar Molefi Kete Asante included him in his book The 100 Greatest African Americans.
2005: In a British poll broadcast on Channel 4 to find the Comedian's Comedian, he was voted among the top-50 comedy acts ever by fellow comedians and comedy insiders.
2009: Presented with the 12th annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.
2010: Received the Lone Sailor Award by the United States Navy Memorial.
Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Dramatic Series – Primetime Emmys
1966 I Spy – Alexander Scott
1967 I Spy – Alexander Scott
1968 I Spy – Alexander Scott
Outstanding Variety Or Musical Program – Primetime Emmys
1969 The Bill Cosby Special
Best Comedy Performance – Grammy Awards
1965 I Started Out as a Child
1966 Why Is There Air?
1969 To Russell, My Brother, Whom I Slept With
1987 Those of You with or Without Children, You'll Understand
Best Recording for Children – Grammy Awards
1971 The Electric Company – Cast member
1972 Bill Cosby Talks to Kids About Drugs
Cosby has been awarded at least 57 honorary degrees since 1985 (some have been revoked; see next section):
Honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of Pennsylvania, 1990. He also served as the commencement speaker in May 1997.
Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Southern California, May 8, 1998.
Honorary Doctorate from Colgate University, May 22, 1999; he was also the keynote speaker for the commencement ceremony.
Honorary Doctorate from Amherst College, May 1999. (Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa)
Honorary Degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 2001
Honorary Degree from the University of Cincinnati in 2001.
Honorary Doctorate from Paine College in 2003.
Honorary Degree in 2003 from Sisseton Wahpeton College for his contributions to minority education.
Honorary Doctorate from West Chester University of Pennsylvania during the 2003 graduation ceremony.
Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Yale University, May 26, 2003.
Honorary Doctor of Music degree from Berklee College of Music, May 8, 2004. Cosby was also the host of the school's 60th Anniversary Concert in January 2006.
Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Carnegie Mellon University, May 20, 2007; he was also the keynote speaker for the commencement ceremony.
Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Virginia Commonwealth University, December 5, 2008.
Following numerous allegations of sexual assault made against Cosby, a number of his awards were revoked:
Revoked Honorary degrees
Awarded Honorary Doctor of Letters degree from Brown University, May 1985. Degree rescinded September 2015.
Awarded Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Lehigh University, May 1987. Degree rescinded February 2016.
Awarded Honorary Doctor of Letters degree from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, 1992. Degree rescinded November 2015.
Awarded Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Swarthmore College, 1995. Degree rescinded December 2015.
Awarded Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts from the University of Connecticut, and served as the commencement speaker May 18, 1996. Degree rescinded June 2016.
Awarded Honorary Doctor of Arts degree from Tufts University, 2000. Degree rescinded October 2015.
Awarded Honorary Doctorate from Goucher College, 2001. Degree rescinded October 2015.
Awarded Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts from Fordham University in 2001. Degree rescinded September 2015.
Awarded Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Haverford College, May 2002. Degree rescinded February 2016.
Awarded Honorary Doctorate from Drew University during the May 2002 graduation ceremony. Degree rescinded October 2015.
Awarded Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Baylor University, September 4, 2003, at the "Spirit Rally" for the Baylor and Central Texas communities. Degree rescinded October 2015.
Awarded Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Wilkes University, May 2004. Degree rescinded October 2015.
Awarded Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Oberlin College, May 1, 2010. Degree rescinded December 2015.
Awarded Honorary Chief Petty Officer (Hospital Corpsman) in the United States Navy in 2011. The Navy revoked this award on December 4, 2014.
Awarded Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from The University of San Francisco, May 18, 2012. Degree rescinded September 2015.
Awarded Honorary Doctor of Letters degree from Marquette University, May 19, 2013. Rescinded September 2015.
Awarded Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Boston University, May 18, 2014. Degree rescinded December 2015.
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Bill Cosby Is a Very Funny Fellow...Right! (1963)
I Started Out as a Child (1964)
Why Is There Air? (1965)
To Russell, My Brother, Whom I Slept With (1968)
200 M.P.H. (1968)
8:15 12:15 (1969)
It's True! It's True! (1969)
Live: Madison Square Garden Center (1970)
When I Was a Kid (1971)
For Adults Only (1971)
Bill Cosby Talks to Kids About Drugs (1971)
Inside the Mind of Bill Cosby (1972)
Fat Albert (1973)
My Father Confused Me... What Must I Do? What Must I Do? (1977)
Bill's Best Friend (1978)
Bill Cosby: Himself (1982)
Those of You with or Without Children, You'll Understand (1986)
Oh, Baby! (1991)
Bill Cosby: Far from Finished (TV broadcast on November 23, 2013, Blu-ray, DVD, CD and digital distribution on November 26, 2013)
Silver Throat: Bill Cosby Sings (1967)
Bill Cosby Sings Hooray for the Salvation Army Band! (1968)
Badfoot Brown & the Bunions Bradford Funeral & Marching Band (1971)
Charles Mingus and Friends in Concert – As master of ceremonies (Columbia, 1972)
Bill Cosby Presents Badfoot Brown & the Bunions Bradford Funeral Marching Band (1972)
At Last Bill Cosby Really Sings (1974)
Bill Cosby Is Not Himself These Days (1976)
Disco Bill (1977)
Where You Lay Your Head (1990)
My Appreciation (1991)
Hello Friend: To Ennis, With Love (1997)
Quincy Jones & Bill Cosby – The Original Jam Sessions 1969 (2004)
Quincy Jones & Bill Cosby – The New Mixes Vol. 1 (2004)
State of Emergency (2009)
Keep Standing (2010)
The Best of Bill Cosby (1969)
More of the Best of Bill Cosby (1970)
Down Under (1975)
Cosby and the Kids (1986)
At His Best (1994)
20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection: The Best of Bill Cosby (2001)
The Bill Cosby Collection (2004)
Year Single Chart Positions
US US R&B
1967 "Little Ol' Man (Uptight—Everything's Alright)" 4 18
1970 "Grover Henson Feels Forgotten" 70 —
1976 "I Luv Myself Better Than I Luv Myself" — 59
"Yes, Yes, Yes" 46 11
Year Title Role Notes
1965–1968 I Spy Alexander Scott Main role (82 episodes)
1969 Hey, Hey, Hey, It's Fat Albert Bill / Fat Albert / Dumb Donald (voice) Movie; also writer
1969–1971 The Bill Cosby Show Chet Kincaid Lead role (52 episodes); also executive producer
1971 Man and Boy Caleb Revers Movie
1971–1973 The Electric Company Hank 260 episodes
1972 The New Bill Cosby Show Himself/host
1972–1985 Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids "Fat" Albert Jackson (voice) / Himself/host Main role (34 episodes); also creator
1972 To All My Friends on Shore Blue Movie
1974 Journey Back to Oz The Wizard of Oz TV version
1976 Cos Host Series
1977–1990 Pinwheel Himself Host of the Picture Pages segment
1978 Top Secret Aaron Strickland Movie
1984–1992 The Cosby Show Dr. Heathcliff "Cliff" Huxtable Main role (197 episodes); also creator and theme music composer
1987 A Different World Dr. Heathcliff "Cliff" Huxtable 3 episodes; also creator and theme music composer
1992–1993 You Bet Your Life Himself/host Game show; also theme music composer
1994–1995 The Cosby Mysteries Guy Hanks Lead role (18 episodes)
1994 I Spy Returns Alexander Scott Movie
1996–2000 Cosby Hilton Lucas Main role (95 episodes); also exec. producer and theme music composer
1998–2000 Kids Say the Darndest Things Himself/host
1999–2004 Little Bill Captain Brainstorm (voice) Also exec. producer, writer and theme music composer
2010–2012 OBKB Himself 33 episodes; also executive producer
Year Title Role Notes
1968 Black History: Lost, Stolen, or Strayed Self Documentary
1969 Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice Patron at Nightclub Uncredited
1971 Aesop's Fables Aesop
1972 Hickey & Boggs Al Hickey
1974 Uptown Saturday Night Wardell Franklin
1975 Let's Do It Again Billy Foster
1976 Mother, Jugs & Speed Mother
1977 A Piece of the Action Dave Anderson
1978 California Suite Dr. Willis Panama
1981 The Devil and Max Devlin Barney Satin
1987 Leonard Part 6 Leonard Parker Also producer and writer
1987 Bill Cosby:49 Himself Live comedy concert film released on VHS
1990 Ghost Dad Elliot Hopper
1993 The Meteor Man Marvin
1996 Jack Lawrence Woodruff
2003 Baadasssss! Himself
2004 Fat Albert Himself Also executive producer and writer
2014 Bill Cosby 77 Himself
Cosby, Bill (1986). Fatherhood. New York: Doubleday. ISBN 978-0-385-23410-8. OCLC 15686687.
Cosby, Bill (1987). Time Flies. New York: Doubleday. ISBN 978-0-385-24040-6. OCLC 16081611.
Cosby, Bill (1989). Love and Marriage. New York: Doubleday. ISBN 978-0-385-24664-4. OCLC 18984758.
Cosby, Bill (1991). Childhood. New York: Putnam. ISBN 978-0-399-13647-4. OCLC 23650310.
Cosby, Bill (1998). Kids Say the Darndest Things. New York: Bantam Books. ISBN 978-0-553-11043-2. OCLC 39498709.
Cosby, Bill (1999). Congratulations! Now What?: A Book for Graduates. New York: Hyperion. ISBN 978-0-7868-6572-7. OCLC 40979923.
Allen, Dwight William; Cosby, Bill (2000). American Schools: The $100 Billion Challenge. New York: IPublish.com. ISBN 978-0-7595-5000-1. OCLC 48915448.
Cosby, Bill; Booth, George (2001). Cosbyology: Essays and Observations from the Doctor of Comedy. New York: Hyperion. ISBN 978-0-7868-6810-0. OCLC 46359836.
Cosby, Bill (2003). I Am What I Ate ... and I'm Frightened!!!: And Other Digressions from the Doctor of Comedy. New York: HarperEntertainment. ISBN 978-0-06-054573-4. OCLC 52387894.
Cosby, Bill; Cosby, Erika (2003). Friends of a Feather: One of Life's Little Fables. New York: Harper Entertainment. ISBN 978-0-06-009147-7. OCLC 52206847.
Cosby, Bill; Poussaint, Alvin F. (2007). Come on, People: On the Path from Victims to Victors. Nashville: Thomas Nelson. ISBN 978-1-59555-092-7. OCLC 153581209.
Cosby, Bill (2011). I Didn't Ask to Be Born (But I'm Glad I Was). New York: Center Street. ISBN 978-0-89296-920-3. OCLC 707964887.