Bill Cosby: Career

Stand-up comedian Bill Cosby began his serious comedian career in 1962, when he appeared at The Glasslight Cafe, in New York. His first national appearance was in 1963 at NBC's The Tonight Show in the summer of 1963 which led to a recording contract with Warner Bros. Records, who released his debut LP Bill Cosby Is a Very Funny Fellow...Right!, the first in a series of popular comedy albums, in 1964. Cosby was making his reputation with humorous recollections of his childhood.

In 1965, when he was cast alongside Robert Culp in the I Spy espionage adventure series, Cosby became the first African-American co-star in a dramatic television series, and NBC became the first to present a series so cast.

Cosby continued to do stand-up comedy performances, and recorded half-dozen record albums for Warners. He also began to dabble in singing, recording Silver Throat: Bill Cosby Sings in 1967, which provided him with a hit single with his recording of "Li'l Ole Man".

In 1968, Bill Cosby opened his own record label called Tetragrammatron Record, in association with Roy Silver and Bruce Post Campbell. The label lasted only until 1970 when they had to shut it down. It produced films as well as records, including Cosby's television specials, the Fat Albert cartoon special and series along with several motion pictures.

In 1969, he returned with another series, The Bill Cosby Show, a situation comedy that ran for two seasons. The show was interrupted but it came back on the air in 1972 under the name The New Bill Cosby Show. 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 and the Cosby Kids from 1979 to 1984.

Bill 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) costarring Raquel 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 the year. 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.

Cosby's greatest television success came in September 1984 with the debut of The Cosby Show. The program aired weekly on NBC and went on to become the highest ranking sitcom of all time. Much of the material from the pilot and first season of The Cosby Show was taken from his then popular video Bill Cosby: Himself, released in 1983.

In 1987, Cosby attempted to return to the big screen 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.

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).

Comedian Bill Cosby also made appearances in three more films, Ghost Dad (1990), The Meteor Man (1993); and Jack (1996); in addition to being interviewed in Spike Lee's 4 Little Girls(1997), a documentary about the racist bombing of a Birmingham, Alabama, church in 1963. Also in 1996, he started up a new show for CBS, Cosby.

Cosby was hired by CBS to be the official "spokesman" for the WWJ-TV during an advertising campaign from 1995 to 1998. In addition, Cosby in 1998 became the host of Kids Say the Darndest Things which aired until 2000.

In December 2004 was released in theatres Fat Albert, a live-action feature film centering on the popular Fat Albert character from his 1970s cartoon series. In the summer of 2009, Cosby hosted a comedy gala at Montreal's Just for Laughs comedy festival, the worlds largest.

Comedian Bill Cosby also becomes an active member of The Jazz Foundation of America 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.

Among his awards and honors are: October 27, 2009 the 12th annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. In a British 2005 poll to find The Comedian's Comedian, he was voted among the top 50 comedy acts ever. He received Kennedy Center Honors in 1998, Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2002 for his contributions to television. He won the 2003 Bob Hope Humanitarian Award. In 1969, he received his third "Man of the Year" award from Harvard University's performance group, the Hasty Pudding Theatricals. In 2011 he was made an honorary Chief Petty Officer (Hospital Corpsman) in the United States Navy.

Bill Cosby also received numerous Emmys for Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Dramatic Series three years in a row for I Spy (1966-1968) and Outstanding Variety Or Musical Program in 1969 for The Bill Cosby Special.

The Grammies are present as well in his collection: for Best Comedy Performance: 1965 I Started Out as a Child; 1966 Why Is There Air?; 1967 Wonderfulness; 1968 Revenge; 1969 To Russell, My Brother, Whom I Slept With; 1970 Sports; 1987 Those of You with or Without Children, You'll Understand. In the category Best Recording for Children :1972 Bill Cosby Talks to Kids About Drugs.

His books are very popular as well: Fatherhood (1986); Time Flies s (1987); Love and Marriage (1989); Childhood (1991); Kids Say the Darndest Things (1998); Congratulations! Now What? A Book for Graduates (1999).; with Allen Dwight William: American Schools: The $100 Billion Challenge (2000); with Booth George: Cosbyology: Essays and Observations from the Doctor of Comedy (2001); I Am What I Ate ... and I'm Frightened!!!: And Other Digressions from the Doctor of Comedy (2003); with Cosby Erika: Friends of a Feather: One of Life's Little Fable (2003); with Poussaint Alvin F.: Come on, People: On the Path from Victims to Victors (2007).

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