Bill Cosby began as a stand-up comic and ended up as one of America's most beloved television stars. His comedy career was kick-started by a 1963 appearance on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show, and Cosby won multiple Grammy Awards for comedy recordings throughout the 1960s. He was particularly known for routines about childhood friends like Fat Albert and Old Weird Harold (both of whom later appeared in the 1970s cartoon series Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids). In 1965 Cosby starred with Robert Culp in the spoofy TV series I Spy, making him one of the few African-American stars on prime-time TV. Cosby appeared in many other TV shows (including the PBS educational show The Electric Company) and in movies including Uptown Saturday Night (1974, with Sidney Poitier) and Mother, Juggs and Speed (1976, with Raquel Welch). From 1984-92 he dominated prime time television with The Cosby Show, a family comedy in which he and Phylicia Rashad starred as Cliff and Claire Huxtable. The show was a huge hit and, along with the 1986 book Fatherhood, re-established Cosby as a leading comedian. From 1996-2000 he starred in a similar sitcom, Cosby, again with Rashad playing his wife.
Cosby has a bachelors degree from Temple University, and a PhD in education from the University of Massachusetts... Cosby's son Ennis was shot to death in January 1997 after stopping to change a tire just off a Los Angeles freeway... The same year, a woman named Autumn Jackson was arrested after trying to extort $40 million from Cosby, claiming to be his illegitimate daughter. Cosby admitted to an affair with Jackson's mother but denied fathering Jackson. She was convicted of extortion and sentenced to 26 months in jail... Cosby's 1987 movie Leonard, Part 6 was a famous Hollywood flop... Cosby was a longtime pitchman for Jell-O products.